My suspicion is that it’s different for everybody. You can’t speak monolithically about why people do that. I think this is one major problem in the treatment of younger people is that there’s this assumption that there’s a model on which you can treat everybody. …
For me, [cutting] hurt bad and that felt good, in part because it’s about controlling pain. It’s about remaining in control. I get to do this. I say where my limits are. …
My friends knew. They didn’t like it, but I think that’s part of the appeal if you’re 16 and your friends don’t like it and you say, “Yes, but it’s my body and I’ll do what I like with it.” And I think that’s what it’s about — or at least what it was for me — is stating that my body belongs to me and I will do what I like with it, whether anyone likes it or not.
I pitched it to Disney and they were like “we already did that one only with a cat” so I crawled up on the conference room table and started wriggling all around saying “but the eel, man, think of the eel”
later in the same dream I invented a new kind of pizza that you can only eat while driving
It rhymes with “barn feel,” accent on the second syllable, as in the sentence, “I love John Darnielle’s hair, even when it doesn’t have the barn look it’s got that barn feel”
MD: People often speak of certain common technical mistakes in the work of young fiction writers — POV that doesn’t gel, overuse of adverbs in dialog tags, that sort of thing. Are there specific technical problems you see repeatedly in the work of beginning songwriters?
JD: Yeah there’s one, a pet one, which I’ll get to shortly, but the main thing is less technical than - well, for lack of a better term, “moral.” Not moral problems in the sense so much of “what you are doing is morally indefensible,” but more of a “the terms of the moral universe in which you are setting your song are lame, and since you’re the one setting those terms, this is a problem you should fix.” What the hell am I even talking about — this: young men (this problem really doesn’t seem to exist for young women who write songs) often like to present a narrator whose self-destructive “urges” (they usually aren’t real “urges” so much as cosmetic choices about how to present himself) are clearly placing him on a collision course with doom. The narrator of these songs often seems to hope that the important people in his life will be both very impressed by the special nature of his pain, and that some people who have spurned him will be so horrified by the things his pain has made him do that they will either a) give him what he wants from them or b) speak with awe about him.
Really can’t stand that kinda stuff. There is one thing special about your pain: it’s yours. That ought to be enough, in my opinion; you can describe it from there, and take control of it, detail it lovingly, etc. But when a narrator seems to think that he is somehow beatified by his own particular collection of neuroses, well, this bugs me. I was as guilty of this early on as anybody, and one of my most popular songs is pretty much One Of These Types, and it’s not that all songs like this are bad. In fact many of them are quite good. But it’s a tendency that should be outgrown quickly. Often there are two main characters in a song like this, and almost always, the song would be a much better one of the two weren’t acting like a child.
I feel obligated to share this photo of toddler John Darnielle literally eating jam out of the jar. I had no idea this photo existed or that this had happened until about one minute ago.
DARNIELLE: And I went back to my room and just sat there listening to music and my mom came down the hall to see what time she should make dinner and I had been sitting there for a half hour contemplating what I was gonna do to express that I didn’t deserve this, and this was at the extent of the rage, so I punched my window. I put my fist through the window. It felt like a million bucks. I never felt so good in my whole life. It was like, holy shit. And the house melted down. Right there was just this immediate, my stepfather screamed he was gonna beat everyone’s ass even worse and my mother and my sister’s crying and this whole terrible scene… bleeding down my arm and I just felt like a million bucks. It was like, you know what, it felt so good, to show them what it felt like inside. There was no way of getting it through their heads.
MARON: It’s also a way of trumping the pain they inflicted.
DARNIELLE: Exactly, that’s right.
MARON: You win in some weird way.
DARNIELLE: Yeah that’s right, that was my victory.
oh and john darnielle introduced “up the wolves” by saying “this is a song about verb tenses” and talking about how when people say “you will live to fight another day” they mean “fight” in the intransitive sense, you will live to fight (something) another day, but the song is about using “fight” transitively instead, so “what will you fight? another day”
it was really lovely