When you came in, I could breathe again

I haven’t been particularly enthusiastic about anything John Darnielle has done since the marvelous The Sunset Tree a few years back. Still, there’s no denying that when everything goes right he is without peer in his ability to tell the stories in a way you never knew you were missing. He does so by capturing the tiniest details, bringing to vivid life characters that we might blow off as utterly mundane.

Thank You Mario But Our Princess Is In Another Castle – The Mountain Goats and Kaki King

This song – a joint effort of The Mountain Goats and Kaki King is told from the perspective of Toad, is a perfect example. As a child of the 80s, I encountered Toad countless times but never once questioned his bizarre role in Mario’s world. I’m sure many others can relate.

Which is what makes this such a perfect platform. It taps in on two levels: first as a message that everyone -no matter how seemingly unimportant – has a story to tell, and second as a reminder of the countless ways that we share a cultural landscape with millions of people we will never meet. Because a big part of what’s so fascinating about this song is that it’s not just one person encountering Toad, filing him away in their memory but only in the most glancing fashion. It’s thousands, millions of them.

For each individual, there is no underlying significance or meaning. But in totality, there’s something peculiar that emerges in the latticework of a million fleeting remembrances.

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