Lots of musicians have taken a crack at Jason Molina’s music, particularly since we lost the legendary Songs: Ohia/Magnolia Electric Co. frontman to alcohol-inflicted organ failure two years ago. But I haven’t heard a Molina cover I like as much as John Vanderslice’s rendition of “Long Dark Blues,” the demo that would eventually blossom into all-time classic Magnolia Electric Co. opener “Farewell Transmission.” Vanderslice is a very different kind of indie-rock auteur, but his spare, choral, synth-pop treatment stays true to the spirit of the original while spinning it out into an entirely new direction. It sounds like a Molina song, a Vanderslice song, and nothing I’ve ever heard. Vanderslice offered this explanation to Spin via email:
I really dislike covers. Usually they are too deferent to the source, too timid. They need to be a reaction to or an undermining of the original. This song was originally commissioned for a Molina comp and was rejected; I wasn’t surprised… Everyone hears the confessional folk, the Oldham, and the On The Beach-era Neil Young in Molina. I heard the Pink Floyd, the drugs, and the loneliness.
The cover will be included on an upcoming reissue of Vanderslice’s Mass Suicide Occult Figurines. Hear it below.