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John Darnielle debuts new Mountain Goats song “Skeleton’s Tooth” at Symphony Space

John Darnielle at Symphony Space
photo via @haiduz

On Wednesday (10/25) night, John Darnielle, author and singer/songwriter of folk rock legends The Mountain Goats, hosted a night of chilling tales at Symphony Space on the Upper West Side. This special Halloween edition of Selected Shorts had a theme of “speculative, spooky, sensational stories.” In addition to his hosting duties, as promised, Darnielle performed a spooky new song “Skeleton’s Tooth.”

Reading Darnielle’s selections were a handful of famed TV and screen actors: ‘80s teen icon Molly Ringwald read “No More Loves” by Javier Marías; Law and Order: Criminal Intent star Kathryn Erbe read “Le Miroir” by Robert Aickman; prolific actor Peter Jay Fernandez, most recently known for Luke Cage, read “Moses and Gaspar” by Amparo Dávila; and outspoken and intense TV and film actor, The Shape of Water’s Michael Shannon read “The Pitch” by Dennis Etchison. In addition to debuting “Skeleton’s Tooth”, Darnielle read the Robert Browning poem “My Last Duchess.”

Darnielle tweeted the day of the event that he had written “Skeleton’s Tooth” a mere 10 days ago. Before sitting down at the piano, he explained the inspiration for the title. “I sat down to write this song with my son. I said, ‘what should we call this jam?’ He said ‘Skeleton’s Tooth’, Darnielle laughed, “So I wrote Skeleton’s Tooth.”

“Skeleton’s Tooth” continues the minimalistic style of the most recent Mountain Goats EP, Hex of Infinite Binding. The lyrics fit the theme of the night and used imaginative horror imagery, while still being evocative of real life emotions in their metaphor. Clearly, Darnielle was having fun with this one. While it’s unclear if the song will be on an upcoming record, it seems unlikely. The past two Mountain Goats LPs have been tight concept records, and I expect nothing less of Darnielle than a total swerve from the gothic imagery and brooding melodies of Goths for the next full length release.

Selected Shorts is recorded for the NPR podcast network, and while a recording of Wednesday night’s show isn’t available yet, stay tuned for it to appear on a future episode.

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