When, in December, Mountain Goats frontman John Darnielle announced that he’d be doing a live score for a screening of the silent 1919 Swedish film Sir Arne’s Treasure at the San Francisco Film Society, he described his plan like so:
“One thing led to another, though, and I ended up synching up a few Hail and Farewell, Gothenburg songs, which I how I got the idea to start excavating a bunch of old Sweden-era notebooks, which is how I ended up finally setting to music a good handful of long-orphaned lyrics from the Sweden cycle: abandoned side-stories, extended soliloquies, muttered curses. So that is what we’ll be doing: not all of Sweden, but a version of it, live, as accompaniment for Mauritz Stiller’s gorgeous Swedish tale of lost treasures.”
Hail and Farewell, Gothenburg, of course, is the never released 1995 follow-up to Sweden, the crown jewel in the extensive secret history of Mountain Goats records that never quite actually became records. This score seemed destined to join that history: a one-off live blitz through vintage Mountain Goats lyrics never before set to music, only to be once again abandoned and never heard by most of the band’s fans.
Except that it’s 2011, which means that of course someone bootlegged the entire concert and posted it online. Here it is via the Indie Rock Snob, caveat pending–this may well not be the state Darnielle would prefer anybody to hear it in. Do with that information what you will. Since we personally we couldn’t resist, we can tell you bits of “The Recognition Scene,” “Send Me An Angel,” “Downtown Seoul,” “FM,” and other Sweden tracks make the cut in some form or another, along with extensive passages of stuff we’ve never heard before. And we’ve heard a lot of Mountain Goats in our day. Here’s hoping this one day gets the studio treatment, too, though we’re not holding our breath.