Three years ago, the Mountain Goats released Beat The Champ, a full concept album about the truly American art of pro wrestling. Shortly before the album’s release, I went to an independent wresting show with frontman John Darnielle — his first show in decades, though he’d been a regular as a kid — and it was an absolute blessing to see him and the wrestlers gushing over each other. At the time, Sasha Banks, then one of the leading stars in NXT, WWE’s developmental promotion, asked Darnielle, on Twitter, to write her a song. Darnielle said that he’d do it before his tour was over. It’s a little late, but that song is finally here.
These days, Banks is one of the most important women’s wrestlers in WWE — and a multiple-time Women’s Champion — in the greatest boom in big-time women’s wresting that history has ever seen. Banks’ match against Bayley at the first NXT Takeover Brooklyn show in 2015 is one of the greatest American pro wrestling matches in recent years, in any company. And still “Song For Sasha Banks” feels like a big moment for everyone involved.
Darnielle wrote “Song For Sasha Banks” from Banks’ perspective, telling the whole story of how she fell in love with wrestling and became a part of its history herself. Best lyric: “Head off to camp in Boston / Come up through the independents / Those who would stand between me and my final destination get torched inside the fire of my transcendence.” They posted it on Bandcamp this afternoon, and here it is:
We here in the @mountain_goats acknowledge @SashaBanksWWE as the Boss and we know no road worth traveling doesn't have some bumps and we promised her this song several years back and I wrote it last week and here it is https://t.co/FZApRe6p1m
— The Mountain Goats (@mountain_goats) June 18, 2018
Here’s what Darnielle wrote about the release via his newsletter:
When Beat the Champ came out, a wrestler named Sasha Banks tweeted at me: “Where’s my song, @mountain_goats?” As a territories guy I had to learn her story. I said I’d finish the song by the end of the tour; it took a little longer than that.
Last night Sasha Banks wrestled for the Money in the Bank title, and while she didn’t take it home this time, I’ve learned enough about where she came from and how she got to where she is now to say with confidence: the sky is the limit for you. Your walk is just beginning and the day will come when all your setbacks look like steps on a ladder.
Jon Wurster and I recorded this song at Chris Stamey’s place last week — that’s Chris on bass; I last worked with Chris on the Moon Colony Bloodbath DP. Thanks to Chris for making this happen and to the Boss, Sasha Banks herself, for inspiring us all – to learn about you and to write this song was a real honor for me.
Dedicated of course to Sasha and to everybody who’s even had a hint of what it looks like when your dreams start pushing their elbows through the gauze into the real world of blood & sweat & bone.
You can buy “Song For Sasha Banks” at Bandcamp.