On the Mountain Goats and Kaki King’s “Black Pear Tree”


Former subway busker Kaki King’s collaboration with John Darnielle, Black Pear Tree, got its 10 seconds on the Internet in the form of “Thank You Mario But Our Princess Is In Another Castle,” then sort of disappeared when it turned out BPT was a vinyl-only tour 12″ that would not in fact play on computers without 12″ drives.

“Black Pear Tree,” the song, is an obscurely autobiographical track written by a hypochondriatic Darnielle in a Stockholm, Sweden emergency room, where he was momentarily convinced he was dying of cancer. It’s an intensely delicate song where the quiet lyrics–primarily about gardening–reveal themselves as masking all kinds of mortal terror. On the LP, the song is sung entirely by King, but during their tour together, it made for a lovely duet. In both versions, they sing together in two electric moments–one of abject despair, one of defiant reassurance. “I saw the future in a dream last night,” sings Darnielle, contemplating the former: “There was nothing in it.”

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