The Cream of the Crop


1) raising first son, assisting in debut of second son

2) seeing novel Wolf in White Van through publication, nomination for National Book Award, NY Times Bestseller list, repeatedly pinching self and writing letters to younger self about how awesome 2014 is

3) writing songs in living room, office, van, hotel rooms, basement


1) vultures, pigs, dinosaurs, necklaces, plates with pictures of cats on them, attachable dragon tails

2) the career trajectory of Black Sabbath

3) professional wrestling


1) write more

2) tour more

3) release album of songs about professional wrestling

The songs about the animals and dinosaurs you can only wrangle out of me if 1) you’re one of my sons or 2) I’m feeling sentimental, and the Ozzy songs must ripen in the darkness until the fullness of the last days. But the wrestling songs, several of which, surprise surprise, are really more about death and difficult-to-navigate interior spaces than wrestling — those will all be let out of their cages on April 7th in North America. (Europe and the UK prefer to let the album cellar for a week to develop its bouquet, so it comes out there on April 13th. Australia and NZ are always first in everything as we know so y’all get it on April 3rd.)  The album’s called Beat the Champ, and features cover art by Leela Corman; the vinyl will be two LPs at 45 rpm with lyrics printed on the gatefold. Why lyrics now, after a whole career of refusing to print lyrics? I don’t know. Instinct. I am especially proud of these ones. They are rather more emotional than you might guess at first blush.

There’s more about the album over here, on Merge’s site. The vinyl comes with a download code because that is the natural order of things, seriously everybody needs to get with the program on this. On the last night of tracking we did a not-like-the-others song called “Blood Capsules”; it’s been pressed onto red vinyl 12″ at 45 rpm and is backed with “Dub Capsules,” Scott Solter’s full dub treatment of the A-side, reassembled entirely from sounds originating on that A-side, bearing almost no resemblance to its source. It costs a little extra to get the deluxe edition with the 12″, because the powers of industry have repeatedly declined my requests to press up my records for free. There’ll be a handful of deluxe-edition copies at retail and in Europe, but if you think you want it, I’d recommend the pre-order. All copies of the deluxe LP are gold and green vinyl until we run out — gold for the championship belt, green for the payout LA wrestlers got when they took home the Beat the Champ title. All that glory. All that shine. Nameless bodies in unremembered rooms. Some people might be thinking to themselves, JD, wrestling, I don’t know, I’ve never really been into wrestling, but did I steer you wrong with the Bible album, even though you may not have been super-into the Bible? Fear not. In a world of false promises and hollow gimmicks, please rest assured that the old maxim still holds true, whether scrawled on the back of a claim check or carved into a bench in an abandoned locker room: you can’t trust much, but you can trust the Mountain Goats.

Tour dates are over here. A song about my childhood hero, Chavo Guerrero, may he live a thousand years and all his days be filled with joy, is streaming here: enjoy! We will see you in the spring!