A decade ago, the Mountain Goats were guests on The Colbert Report. While they were there, they did something special. Together with Stephen Colbert, they performed “This Year,” the anthemic opening song from their 2005 masterpiece The Sunset Tree. That’s a song that means a whole lot to a whole lot of people, and Stephen Colbert is one of those people. But this was the era when Colbert never broke his smarmy right-wing character, and that performance never aired on TV. It wasn’t even an online exclusive. There’s no footage of it. Some friends of mine were in the audience that night, and they said rapturous things about it, but we never got to see it. Today, we do.
Last night, the Mountain Goats were the musical guests on Colbert’s Late Show. They’ve just released the excellent new album In League With Dragons, and they played an impassioned version of “Sicilian Crest,” one of that album’s singles. They sounded great. And I love how all the members of the band dressed up nice except for John Darnielle, who wore some sneakers and an Inter Arma shirt. But the real main event came when Colbert, once again, joined them for “This Year.”
“This Year” is one of those songs that, if it means something to you, it means everything to you. And if you watch Stephen Colbert sing it, you will watch Stephen Colbert transform. He pogos madly. He does this weird ballet thing. He howls out the second verse, nervous but impassioned. He seems close to tears by the end of the song. Then he and Darnielle are pogoing together, and euphoria takes over again. As the song ends, Colbert lets out the most sincere “whooo!” that you are likely to hear today. It’s a beautiful thing to witness. Watch the performance below.
10 years ago we did this song with Stephen on Comedy Central but it never aired. Tonight we did it again https://t.co/m8DwwRj6LH
— The Mountain Goats (@mountain_goats) July 17, 2019
In League With Dragons is out now on Merge. The Mountain Goats are so great.