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Jason Molina

Riding with the Ghost

Erin Osmon

Erin Osmon presents a detailed, human account of the Rust Belt–born musician Jason Molina—a visionary, prolific, and at times cantankerous singer-songwriter with an autodidactic style that captivated his devoted fans. The songwriting giant behind the bands Songs: Ohia and Magnolia Electric Co. had a knack for spinning tales, from the many personal myths he cultivated throughout his life to the poems and ballads he penned and performed. As with too many great musicians, Molina’s complicated relationship with the truth, combined with a secretive relationship with the bottle, ultimately claimed his life.

Jason Molina: Riding with the Ghost details Molina’s personal trials and triumphs and reveals for the first time the true story of Molina’s last months and works, including an unpublished album unknown to many of his fans. Offering unfettered access to the mind and artistry of Molina through exclusive interviews with family, friends, and collaborators, the book also explores the Midwest music underground and the development of Bloomington, Indiana–based label Secretly Canadian.

As the first authorized and detailed account of this prolific songwriter and self-mythologizer, Jason Molina provides readers with unparalleled insight into Molina’s tormented life and the fascinating Midwest musical underground that birthed him. It’s a story for the ages that speaks volumes to the triumphs and trials of the artistic spirit while exploring the meaningful music that Molina’s creative genius left behind.
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Rowman & Littlefield Publishers
Pages: 240Size: 6 1/4 x 9 3/8
978-1-4422-6867-8 • Hardback • May 2017 • $35.00 • (£23.95) - Currently out of stock. Copies will arrive soon.
978-1-4422-6868-5 • eBook • May 2017 • $33.00 • (£22.95)
Erin Osmon is a music writer based in Chicago. Her work has appeared in dozens of newspapers, magazines, websites, and journals dealing with music and culture. She also writes long-form liner notes for reissues of historic albums. A native of Evansville, Indiana, Ms. Osmon grew up in the Midwest underground music scene. She discovered Jason Molina’s music in 1998 after the song “Vanquisher” from the first Songs: Ohia LP made rounds on a mix tape among her high school friends. This is her first book.
Chapter 1: Lorain
Chapter 2: Metal
Chapter 3: Oberlin
Chapter 4: Secretly Canadian
Chapter 5: Darcie
Chapter 6: Ireland
Chapter 7: Chicago
Chapter 8: Lightning in a Bottle
Chapter 9: The Electricians
Chapter 10: London
Chapter 11: Rehab
Chapter 12: Indianapolis
Among Riding with the Ghost’s most memorable passages are instances of Molina’s fandom, from his unconditional love for Sade and his evangelizing of Kraftwerk to Damien Jurado, to his edict to bandmates to study Neil Young’s After the Gold Rush. Molina’s passion rings through these pages, nowhere more distinctly than in the retelling of the fateful interaction that launched his career while studying at Oberlin College (where he was known as 'Sparky').
Pitchfork Media Inc.

Jason Molina: Riding with the Ghost delves into each period of the artist’s life: from his first high school punk band Chronic Insanity, to his last days with heralded alt-country act Magnolia Electric Co., and the numerous iterations of his beloved folk-leaning band Songs: Ohia, as well as solo material and unreleased demos unkown to fans. It’s a fascinating look at one of the last pre-internet indie successes and the underground music scene that supported his meteoric rise. The book also examines the origin story of Bloomington, IN-based Secretly Canadian, and how the record label and Molina became inexorably linked in a nearly 17-year run as label and artist, despite major ideological and technological shifts in the landscape of independent music. It’s a book not just for Molina fans, but for music fans — a story for the ages that explores the triumphs and pitfalls of a very pure artistic spirit.
Glide Magazine

Jason Molina: Riding with the Ghost, written by Erin Osmon, pretty much answered questions about Molnia’s life that some of me never wanted to know. From tales of his youth in a trailer park Lorain, OH to memories in recording studios and overseas, this family-authorized book really covered it all. Family, friends, bandmates, and even tourmates all provided insight to the life of Molina. Where most of the book spoke on Molina’s journeys from Songs: Ohia to Magnolia Electric Company and even his solo work and impromptu sessions, the book also brought to light family tensions, failed relationships, depression, and of course the demise of greatness.... Overall, the book carried a life-spanning account of a musician from his young days on Lake Erie to his final days secluded in a room slowly drowning his life away. The emotions were really felt through this book from those who were stunned at his approach to making music to finding out their friend was no more.... Fans of Molina will appreciate this book due to all of the content Osmon was able to hunt down over the span of three years. There were so many angles of Molina’s life put down in this book and I am sure it was not easy for Osmon to capture it all, yet she did it well.

Erin Osmon paints an empathetic and deeply human portrait of Jason Molina, both the artist and the man. A biography that's as beautifully haunting as one of his songs.
Bob Mehr, author, "Trouble Boys: The True Story of the Replacements"

In Jason Molina: Riding with the Ghost, Erin Osmon gives us a riveting biography not only of a great musician whose work deserves to be much wider known, but a well-rounded portrait of a fascinating human being, as well as a glimpse into the creative process. It's a ride well worth taking.
Jim DeRogatis, co-host, "Sound Opinions," and author, Let It Blurt: The Life and Times of Lester Bangs

During his all-too-short lifetime, Jason Molina created some of the most emotionally stirring, soul-enriching, and thought-provoking rock this side of Neil Young, Lou Reed, and Nick Drake. First time author Erin Osmon has crafted a meticulously researched biography infused with both passion and a keen analytic eye. During his lifetime, Molina was criminally under recognized. In a perfect world, Osmon’s loving tribute will play its part in rectifying this.

Rob Bowman, Grammy Award–winning author, Soulsville U.S.A.: The Story of Stax Records

Jason Molina: Riding with the Ghost accomplishes a tremendous feat—an examination of Molina's life and work as rich, complex, and fearless as the music he made. Erin Osmon unpacks the mythology and gives us a portrait that is human, tangible, and deeply moving.
Jessica Hopper, author, The First Collection of Criticism by a Living Female Rock Critic