Left and Leaving
July 15, 2015 4:19 PM   Subscribe

The Weakerthans were a perfect Sunday afternoon in a particularly difficult year that made you feel like everything might be better soon. And now they’re gone.

Many teens who discovered Propagandhi in high school eventually stumbled on the sensitive spin off band from John K Samson. The group quickly dominated my fall car ride play lists. I was lucky enough to see them a handful of years back in NYC when they did a different studio album each night. I was thrilled to find out that the band made as strong of a connection live as on record. The group had not made a record since 2007 or played live since 2013. This isn't much of a surprise, but its still a bummer for it to be official.

A band as emotionally open as the Weakerthans makes it difficult to pick a small handful of universally recognized best moments. Instead, here are some of my favorites:

One Great City

Letter of Resignation

Left and Leaving

Confessions of a Futon Revolutionist

Plea from a Cat Named Virtute
posted by lownote (78 comments total) 47 users marked this as a favorite
Thanks for the post. And for spelling the cat's name correctly. :) Like you say, not unexpected but still a bummer.
posted by Xavier Xavier at 4:23 PM on July 15, 2015 [2 favorites]


I'll miss them so much. I guess I haven't seen them perform in a few years anyway, but at least there was always the chance something new would be coming.

Also, wanted to add one to the playlist: the sequel to Plea from a Cat Named Virtute, Virtute the Cat Explains Her Departure. Cutting-onions warning for cat owners.
posted by saturday_morning at 4:27 PM on July 15, 2015 [3 favorites]

Oh, damn. I found them randomly via a friend's playlist a few years back, and Plea from a Cat Named Virtute is one of my favorite songs (even though I am emphatically not a cat person).

Great band. Well, at least I have them on my iPod.

And now I'm listening to "Watermark" and it's great.
posted by suelac at 4:31 PM on July 15, 2015 [1 favorite]

I hate Winnipeg.
posted by Nanukthedog at 4:31 PM on July 15, 2015 [19 favorites]

The Weakerthans were a Propagandhi spinoff band?!
posted by naju at 4:40 PM on July 15, 2015

The Weakerthans were a Propagandhi spinoff band?!

John K. Samson was the bassist for a while, yeah. Here's a song where he shares vocal duties: Propagandhi - Showdown
posted by The Minotaur at 4:51 PM on July 15, 2015 [1 favorite]

Great band, saw them live at GAMH. Samson is one great lyricist. Sun in an Empty Room.
posted by oluckyman at 4:56 PM on July 15, 2015 [2 favorites]

Not mentioned yet is Tournament of Hearts, an amazing song that basically only makes sense from the title on down if you are totally fluent in curling jargon. "I'm always throwing hack weight" is such a great metaphor.
posted by Homeboy Trouble at 5:02 PM on July 15, 2015 [8 favorites]

posted by Poldo at 5:03 PM on July 15, 2015 [1 favorite]

For Weakerthans obsessives, and anyone who likes great writing about song lyrics, I highly recommend Sue Sorensen's essay John K Samson: Poet Laureate of Winnipeg Rock. Sue is Assistant Professor of English at Canadian Mennonite University
in Winnipeg, but (!) writes lovely jargon-free prose. Should have made the Da Capo Best Music Writing series.
posted by oluckyman at 5:23 PM on July 15, 2015 [8 favorites]

I saw the guy play a few years back in NYC, did a bunch of Weakerthans tunes. I never got into them so was bemused to see a great mass of hip 32 year olds belting out lyrics about tundra and crying. Since then I get it.

Here's my plan: let's call them Emo. And refuse to acknowledge the garbage that got played on MTV as Emo. That's what Emo should be.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 5:26 PM on July 15, 2015 [5 favorites]

By the way this type of thing is making a huge comeback. Search for #newmo or #nuemo or just listen to the Hotelier.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 5:28 PM on July 15, 2015 [2 favorites]

One of my favorite videos is The Reasons. The earnest lyrics, the Wes Andersen shots and the resigned, befuddled complacence of the accused come together in an odd way.
posted by duende at 5:34 PM on July 15, 2015 [4 favorites]

The Weakerthans are not one of my favourite bands though I do like them, they do however have the highest success rate of any band I recommend to others.

Sue is Assistant Professor of English at Canadian Mennonite University
in Winnipeg, but (!) writes lovely jargon-free prose.

As a fellow Mennonite I have to ask; are we known for jargon?
posted by Cosine at 5:53 PM on July 15, 2015 [3 favorites]

At least release one last song titled "Virtute finds a loving forever home"!
posted by Poldo at 6:00 PM on July 15, 2015 [5 favorites]

Cosine: LOL! I was dissing the prose of Professors of English.
posted by oluckyman at 6:04 PM on July 15, 2015

Not a cure for depression, but the best musical palliative I've ever heard.

Buy me a shiny new machine that runs on lies and gasoline,
and all those batteries we stole from smoke-alarms,
and disassembles my despair. It never took me anywhere.
It never once bought me a drink.

posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 6:04 PM on July 15, 2015 [2 favorites]

It's as if 7,386 writers cried out at once. And were suddenly silenced. I'm not counting Ezra Levant, who also was allegedly a fan.
posted by Jessica Savitch's Coke Spoon at 6:06 PM on July 15, 2015 [1 favorite]

posted by eyesontheroad at 6:20 PM on July 15, 2015

... Virtute the Cat Explains Her Departure. Cutting-onions warning for cat owners.

It took me a long time to realize what "the sound you found for me" meant, but when I did, the song got 500% sadder.
posted by Johnny Assay at 6:35 PM on July 15, 2015 [9 favorites]

I'm annoyed that my decade+-younger Decemberists-loving self shunned the W's, because they were labelled ‘punk’ so I was expecting gobbing and all.

JKS' solo album is good. Every postgrad has felt like this: “When I Write My Master's Thesis”.
posted by scruss at 7:03 PM on July 15, 2015 [7 favorites]

Fans should be free to check out Christine Fellows, who is a bit of a partner in crime.
posted by clvrmnky at 8:00 PM on July 15, 2015 [2 favorites]

For those interested they've got the lyrics up on their website: http://www.theweakerthans.org/discography/ just click the album title then the song title
posted by zenon at 8:01 PM on July 15, 2015

this really bums me out. i spent a lot of time in the peg.
We meet here for our dress-rehearsal to say
" I wanted it this way"
and wait for the year to drown
Spring forward, fall back down.
I'm trying not to wonder where you are.

All this time
lingers, undefined.
Someone choose who's left and who's leaving
posted by zenon at 8:19 PM on July 15, 2015 [1 favorite]

Here's another of my favourite Weakerthans songs: Psalm For the Elks' Lodge Last Call. I'd actually never seen the video before digging up this link to post, and now I like the song even more.

Oh protect our secret handshake once more, with feeling
Let the toast to absent members push through the ceiling
Before we say goodnight

posted by HillbillyInBC at 8:36 PM on July 15, 2015 [1 favorite]

They're one of my favorite bands. I've never seen them live or anything, I just picked up Reconstruction Site after hearing them on some music blog and played the shit out of it. For some reason, of all the music I've thrown at my 16 year old son, the Weakerthans have stuck the most. He's always quoting lyrics to songs I only kind of half know.

I agree that Sampson's solo album is worth a listen. He's got a real way with the tear-jerkers.
posted by gamera at 8:43 PM on July 15, 2015

Admittedly, I haven't thought of them in a few years, but good god damn did I love their music.
I was introduced to the Weakerthans through 'My Favorite Chords' when a girl I was super crushing on included it on a mix CD she made for me. While she and I didn't date for long, pretty soon I owned all their albums.
I've had to sell all my books and music a couple times due to extreme broke-ness, and I remember sweetly picking up my copy of Fallow, and being heartbroken while slipping it into the padded mailer.
Man, time to re-buy all of their albums. brb.
posted by missmary6 at 9:35 PM on July 15, 2015 [1 favorite]

Aww, Weakerthans! Not a band I followed closely, but one I always let the songs play through when they come up on shuffle.

My favorite lyrics:
and I love this place, the enormous sky,
and the faces, hands that I'm haunted by
from "This is a Fire Door Never Leave Open," and how can you not love that title?
posted by nicebookrack at 9:49 PM on July 15, 2015 [6 favorites]

Virtute the Cat Explains Her Departure is the saddest damn song I've ever heard.
posted by valrus at 10:08 PM on July 15, 2015 [3 favorites]

Aw man. I'm sad now.

Every one of their albums is great. Can't say better than that.
posted by wemayfreeze at 10:26 PM on July 15, 2015

Oh and as some sort of consolation, it appears that Rainer Maria is playing two shows at the end of September! SF and LA.


Confirmed on the Polyvinyl site.
posted by wemayfreeze at 10:27 PM on July 15, 2015

Crisp fall, perfect October leaves in western Mass, windows down, driving my first car (93 Corolla wagon, silver) through the back roads, and Left and Leaving.

None more emo.

Memory will rust and erode into lists of all that you gave me:
a blanket, some matches, this pain in my chest,
the best parts of lonely,
duct-tape and soldered wires,
new words for old desires,
and every birthday card I threw away.

posted by wemayfreeze at 10:36 PM on July 15, 2015 [1 favorite]

Thank you for the flowers and the book by Derrida.
posted by unknowncommand at 11:04 PM on July 15, 2015 [11 favorites]

I have a Weakerthans CD that I bought because I had a vague memory I'd heard about them on Metafilter. Plus, how can you pass up a CD with a song that has "Virtute the Cat" in the title?

For the relatively uninitiated like me, here's Paul Tough's City Still Breathing: Listening to the Weakerthans (included in Da Capo's Best Music Writing of 2003).
posted by kristi at 11:27 PM on July 15, 2015 [3 favorites]

John K. Samson's solo stuff is worth diving into. I've got a particular soft spot for Letter in Icelandic from the Ninette San (which I sometimes use to make an argument about the outer bounds of what constitutes national literature).
posted by Kattullus at 1:04 AM on July 16, 2015 [1 favorite]

You breathe in forty years of failing to describe a feeling.
I breathe out smoke against the window, trace the letters in your name.

My favorite Weakerthans lines. But there are so many to choose from, I could go on. I hope Samson doesn't put down his pen, because his poetry is magic.
posted by axiom at 1:16 AM on July 16, 2015 [1 favorite]

the best musical palliative I've ever heard

Agreed. It's kind of cliché, but Reconstruction Site got me through some stuff.
posted by Foaf at 1:49 AM on July 16, 2015 [3 favorites]

Also, wanted to add one to the playlist: the sequel to Plea from a Cat Named Virtute, Virtute the Cat Explains Her Departure

Oh gods now, that always leaves me in tears. Such an elegant song of loss.
posted by MartinWisse at 3:21 AM on July 16, 2015

My wife introduced me to The Weakerthans, and they are a really important part of our relationship. I'm sad to hear this, though as they haven't released an album for longer than we've been together, it's indeed not that big a surprise. But Jon K. Samson's solo album is great, too.

It's not really possible to pick a favorite song with them; they have so many good ones. Sun in an Empty Room captures the feeling of moving out of a place you liked living in more than I would have thought would be possible before I heard it. It maybe captures an emotion better than any song I've ever heard. valrus isn't lying about Virtute the Cat Explains Her Departure. I literally can't listen to it without crying a little, which is awkward at work. But it's also one of the most beautiful songs I've ever heard.

I want to mention Pamphleer as another one of my favorites.

I walk this room in time to the beat of the Gestetner,
contemplate my next communique.
The rhetoric and treason of saying that I'll miss you.
Of saying "Hey, well maybe you should stay."

posted by Caduceus at 6:29 AM on July 16, 2015 [5 favorites]

Thank you for the post. I appreciate learning about this on Metafilter.
posted by Caduceus at 6:30 AM on July 16, 2015 [2 favorites]

I always wanted to be in a supergroup with John K Samson and Ted Leo. How perfect would that be?

It's nice to have a Weakerthans reminiscing thread. They could put more feeling into a three-chord songs in the key of G than anybody else. I don't play much music anymore, but half of Reconstruction Site is still on steady rotation in my fingertips, on my guitar, on the couch.

They really put a wonderful tenderness to dreary rainy-autumn mopiness or the workaday depression. The good honest grinding out a life through feelings and confusion.

The visions that I see believe in me.
posted by entropone at 6:47 AM on July 16, 2015 [4 favorites]

I'm not exaggerating when I say that seeing them play live (for my first time) in 2000 literally saved my life.

2001 was the worst year of my life, and if I hadn't had their music to hold on to as a lifeline, I don't know if I would have made it.

I forever regret not dropping everything and going to see one of their multi-night stands in SF or Winnepeg.

I mean, I knew this had to be coming, but I'm still pretty sad.

and I am totally going to be a pedant and say that the Weakerthans aren't really a spin off from Propagandhi, because they are a totally different thing. P-gandhi ended up going much more hardcore and metal (so good), and JKS went in a different direction. All you need to do is listen to Less Talk, More Rock and see which songs are One Of These Things Are Not Like The Other (namely the brutal, wonderful, political bombast of Less Talk, More Rock going into Anchorless and then on the flipside, Resisting Tyrannical Government going into what is probably my favorite JKS song, Gifts. All of the songs on that album are fucking amazing, but it's pretty obvious that JKS was moving in a completely different musical direction than P-gandhi. (Note, Less Talk, More Rock and Reconstruction Site battle for the top of my favorite albums of all time list on a regular basis). (Thank you for reading my rant).
posted by bibliogrrl at 6:48 AM on July 16, 2015 [7 favorites]

To the point of Samson's able poetry: how fucking terrific is his ability to list things vividly?

I don't know how he manages to capture so much emotion by just looking at things and reciting nouns.

But god damn.
posted by entropone at 6:50 AM on July 16, 2015 [9 favorites]

and i'm totally okay with the line "got more faults than the state of california, and the heart is a badly-built bridge."
posted by entropone at 6:53 AM on July 16, 2015

Well, I guess I know what is getting some airtime on our radio show Saturday! (Thank god for really good CanCon.)
posted by Kitteh at 7:20 AM on July 16, 2015 [1 favorite]

@kristi- I had never seen that piece before and really enjoyed it. They are a band that is more about place than most.

For the record, I do not think the weakerthans are literally a spin off band. I had written the post to be about 3x as long as it ended up, and then I spent a while trying to prune into something more manageable. I also wanted to sneak that propagandhi song into the post because JKS's verse in it is so different than anything else on the record and beautiful.

I also hadn't listened to them since moving to Texas about a year ago. At first, i thougnt it was because their music just doesn't seem to fit into the climate. I think its got more to do with the attitudes down in austin being very different than Winnipeg or the suburban NJ I grew up in. I've never been there but I definitely felt like I could relate to it.
posted by lownote at 7:23 AM on July 16, 2015

Damn. I got seriously verklempt seeing the title of this post and am actively trying to stop from straight-up crying right now, not because I'm sad that they broke up (I actually assumed they had already) but because I can't listen to that record AT ALL, not a single song. It makes my whole chest feel caved in from the very first note, which is even now still resonating inside of my brain. I can happily rock to Fallow like nobody's business, but Left and Leaving? GOD NO. I'm actually kind of afraid of it, the emotional weight it carries, all the blood and hope and tears and loss inside of it, the breaking apart and mending back together. And if that ain't emo, well.

I met JKS once and he was so sweet to me that I'll never not straight-up love him, even though it's almost physically painful for me to listen to a lot of his (imo) best songs. I had given him a bouquet of flowers before the show because I'm an awkward, embarrassing nerd and, I guess in return, he surprised me by pulling me up on stage, positioning me in front of a microphone, and slinging his guitar over my shoulder during their performance of, I think, "Anchorless." I yelled, "I don't know how to play guitar!" and he gave me a split-second "Oh, shit!" look, then immediately pressed his hand over mine and moved it over the fretboard to hit the right chords while I strummed and he sang. It was completely fucking magical, time moved in slow-motion for the rest of the song, and I'm sure he had no idea how excited I would still be, 15+ years later, that he would think to give some random stranger such an impulsive, delightful gift. What a dude!

My contribution to the lyrical/musical memory parade is "Confessions of a Futon-Revolutionist."

Held like water in your shaking hands
are all the small defeats a day demands.
10-6 or 9-5
trying, dying to survive.
Never knowing what survival means.

posted by divined by radio at 7:34 AM on July 16, 2015 [22 favorites]

I haven't heard this before but it's excellent, and similar to The Mountain Goats. Similar style of story telling, in some cases as specific events. TMG is a little more lo-fi.

I really look forward to listening to this all day.
posted by shenkerism at 8:15 AM on July 16, 2015 [1 favorite]

For years the only Weakerthans song I've known is "Our Retired Explorer," which was on a mixtape a friend gave me in 2007. It runs through my head whenever I read about a polar expedition, which considering my hobbies is very often, but I've never gotten sick of it. I love its sense of hallucinatory elegy.

I haven't explored them further but, OK, this is my cue.
posted by thesmallmachine at 8:45 AM on July 16, 2015 [1 favorite]

For the most part I think about golfing and constantly calculate
All the seconds left in the minutes and so on, etcetera
Or recite the names of provinces and Hollywood actors
Oh Ontario, Oh Jennifer Jason Leigh

This part of the day bewilders me.

Not the deepest snippet there but man were they good at drawing a perfect, specific picture.
posted by everybody had matching towels at 9:27 AM on July 16, 2015 [3 favorites]

How I'd knead into your chest while you were sleeping

Figured they were done, but still sad to see it's true.
posted by tehjoel at 9:28 AM on July 16, 2015

And for the perfect overlap, John K. Samson and John Darnielle (enthusiastically) singing Anchorless.
Got an armchair from your family home.
Got your P.G. Wodehouse novels, and your telephone.
Got your plates and stainless steel.
Got that way of never saying what you really feel

Guess I got to go listen to all those Weakerthans albums today.
posted by redsparkler at 9:31 AM on July 16, 2015 [4 favorites]

Everything I know about curling I learned from the Weakerthans.
posted by Sunburnt at 9:38 AM on July 16, 2015 [3 favorites]

Misspelled Pamphleteer. Pretty sad.

I really can't emphasize enough how wonderful the Weakerthans are.

Another favorite song of mine is My Favorite Chords. The first half of the song is just Samson on his guitar, and when the rest of the band comes in between lines it never fails to give me chills. (On my phone at work now, can't really dig up a link.)
posted by Caduceus at 9:40 AM on July 16, 2015

Hold still, let me scrub that brackish line
That you got when something rose and then receded...

posted by bleep at 10:00 AM on July 16, 2015 [2 favorites]



Favourite Canadian band most definitely.
posted by wyndham at 10:16 AM on July 16, 2015

Reconsidering, let's go with top five bands ever, actually.
posted by wyndham at 10:29 AM on July 16, 2015

In 1995, I think, at a Propagandhi show in Omaha, we couldn't get out of the parking lot because a U-haul trailer was blocking our exit. We started picking it up to move it, looking down at the ground, and some sweet little canvas shoes trotted into my visual frame. They were JKS' feet and he helped us move the trailer. I was so impressed, for some reason.

Twenty years later he's been a guide to so many things. So many of those songs got me through so much. What an artist. What a band.

That brackish line bit always makes me cry, as do about fifty of their other lyrics/chord changes.
posted by eyesontheroad at 10:40 AM on July 16, 2015 [2 favorites]

Oh, and this was my general descriptor for a long long time.

Rely a bit too heavily on alcohol and irony.
Get clobbered on by courtesy,
in love with love and lousy poetry

posted by redsparkler at 10:52 AM on July 16, 2015 [3 favorites]

For reasons I forget I had to go to their show by myself, so I openly bawled through half the set by myself. I regret nothing. <3 Also, it was a small room and a guy yelled from the way back, "SKA SUCKS!" and Samson paused dramatically and said with great feeling something like, "Sir. I hate you. I don't know how you follow us to every show, but I hate you. After this show is over I will find you and I will fight you." Of course what I actually saw him doing after the show was helping people carry equipment, nodding and smiling politely to passersby. And an old friend has a story about writing to thank him for getting her through a time of great personal crisis; he wrote her back a nice note and enclosed I forget what exactly, but a sweet small object, I think a folded paper crane or frog.

entropone beat me to "the heart is a badly built bridge," so: "I just wish I were a toothbrush or a solder gun, make me something somebody can use."

And the Hopper paintings, Night Windows and Sun in an Empty Room.
posted by clavicle at 11:29 AM on July 16, 2015 [3 favorites]

I'm sadder than I would have expected to be at this news, but I'm also glad they're quitting while they're ahead, having given us four amazing studio albums. I can't pick a favourite song by The Weakerthans. Every time I listen to them I find something new to love about a song I thought I knew.

I saw them live in Toronto at The Horseshoe Tavern in 2010, only a year after I discovered their music. I had liked their albums, but they hadn't wormed their way into my psyche yet, and I swear I fell in love with John K. Samson right then and there. It was a last-minute-ish fundraising show for a Regina band that had lost their equipment to water damage, ahead of sold-out show at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre the next day. The Horseshoe is a small venue with not-great acoustics, but there were only maybe 200 people in the room, all of us eager and earnest on a Monday night, and Samson somehow managed to make it seem like he was singing to each of us individually.

Since then I have metaphorically worn out their digital records through repeated plays, and I've always vaguely regretted not having realized at the time how much that concert would come to mean to me. They were responsible for me significantly stepping up my efforts to attend live concerts since, hoping to recreate that feeling.

I know you might roll your eyes at this
But I'm so glad that you exist

posted by Phire at 11:45 AM on July 16, 2015 [8 favorites]

I also realized recently that a guy I dated briefly before I met my fiancé looks uncannily like John K. Samson and that explains so much about my fond retrospection for what amounted to a handful of okay dates and some text banter.
posted by Phire at 11:47 AM on July 16, 2015 [4 favorites]

Only thing I've heard from them was the Virtute song, and it made me so sad that I never looked up more of them. Good song, mind you, but I get sad enough without help...
posted by tavella at 12:38 PM on July 16, 2015

And the Hopper paintings, Night Windows and Sun in an Empty Room.

and something called the Politics of Lonely.
posted by entropone at 12:50 PM on July 16, 2015

The Weakerthans were a Propagandhi spinoff band?!

No surprise: Propagandhi - Anchorless circa 1996
posted by Theta States at 1:06 PM on July 16, 2015

And for the perfect overlap, John K. Samson and John Darnielle (enthusiastically) singing Anchorless.

I was really hyped for this, but wish it was so better. Darnielle didn't seem to nail the tone, and then he starts clapping WAY TOO FAST. Stop rushing him dood.
posted by Theta States at 1:16 PM on July 16, 2015

For years I had my diploma hanging in my bathroom, currently trying to convince the boyfriend to paint just one wall in our house purple.
posted by marshmallow peep at 1:20 PM on July 16, 2015 [1 favorite]

We're listing what's left: a signed Slayer t-shirt, a car up on blocks in his mother's back yard.
posted by hubs at 1:59 PM on July 16, 2015 [2 favorites]

I was really hyped for this, but wish it was so better. Darnielle didn't seem to nail the tone, and then he starts clapping WAY TOO FAST.

I like to see John doing the same thing that I do when I fan out on somebody. I'm gonna assume he was just so excited that he briefly lost control of his functions.
posted by redsparkler at 2:19 PM on July 16, 2015 [2 favorites]

GOD, I'm getting misty-eyed at my desk. In 2003 I had a bad breakup, dropped out of college, and moved back to my rust-belt hometown to write bad poetry while underemployed and living in shitty co-op housing. I spent most of that year wandering around town aimlessly for hours and hours at a time, miserably depressed but trucking on, listening to Left and Leaving on a loop. Which is really the perfect listening environment for the Weakerthans.

During getting-to-know-you pillow talk with the hardcore-enthusiast I ended up marrying, we couldn't come up with any bands we both liked until I mentioned the Weakerthans (along with Propaghandi and the Mountain Goats, naturally), and they became much of the soundtrack to the early years of our relationship. Man, so many of the pivotal years of my life were spent listening to these guys, and I don't think I fully appreciated that until now.
posted by libraritarian at 2:24 PM on July 16, 2015 [2 favorites]

By far my favorite band. By now I must have listened to Reconstruction Site at least 1000 times beginning to end. I bought it the day it was released. It's been played on every road trip I've taken in the last 12 years. I bonded with my future wife over the lyrics. I'll be playing it for my kids. If I ever get stranded on a desert island, it's about the only thing I'd be able to sing to myself, burned into my brain as it is.

I've had every single Weakerhans album in every form of media, from CDs to streaming from the cloud.

When I read the news this morning, it was like losing something I had forgotten was there. I immediately cued up Reconstruction Site on my phone and showered to the first few songs. The first tinkling notes of One Great City hit just as I was stepping into my bedroom and I stopped dead. I fought back tears as I silently listened to a song I've sung along with hundreds of times.

I grew up in a cold, northern city with long winters and blank featureless skies. When John sings 'a darker grey is breaking through a lighter one' or 'staring at a smudge on a newspaper sky', or even 'his mother laughed and talked on the long ride home', I feel right there again for good or bad. No other band can so effectively put me in a beat up cafeteria, or place me with a friend flicking cigarettes in a bottlecap ashtray, or sit me in a smoke filled Elk's Lodge toasting absent members.

I haven't used this account in a long long time, but I had to log in so I could at least thank the band in some semi-permanent form. From the bottom of my heart, thank you. Words can't express my gratitude. I'll miss you.
posted by quite unimportant at 4:13 PM on July 16, 2015 [13 favorites]

Oh, man. Three of my top four most-played songs are by them. Plea from a Cat named Virtute is my favorite song. Last year, my husband used lyrics from it in a complicated scheme to help cheer me up when my dad was dying of cancer.

I'm sorry there won't be any more songs, but am grateful for the ones they put out.
posted by creepygirl at 10:08 PM on July 16, 2015 [1 favorite]

I am so glad to see so many others who feel the same way about WT as I do. I found them accidentally: they were the opener for the band I actually went to see. The band I wanted to see? Forgettable, bad show. The Weakerthans? Changed my life, and ended up getting me through years of hard times. The best lyrics ever written, and some of the only songs I know of that can be so sad and so happy at the same time.

And, thanks to one of those songs, I really did hang my diploma on the bathroom wall.
posted by barnacles at 12:10 AM on July 17, 2015 [3 favorites]

creepygirl: Last year, my husband used lyrics from it in a complicated scheme to help cheer me up when my dad was dying of cancer.

If it's not too personal to share, I would be interested in hearing this story.
posted by Kattullus at 12:33 PM on July 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


Also fuck yeah Ernesto!
posted by busted_crayons at 6:05 PM on July 17, 2015 [1 favorite]

If it's not too personal to share, I would be interested in hearing this story.

Bear with me, this story requires a fair bit of background information to make any kind of sense:

Mr. creepygirl and I have a running joke about an imaginary cat in our house called Secret Hidden Kitty.

I have played Plea From a Cat Named Virtute whenever we go on a road trip, so Mr. creepygirl knows it by heart, too.

One night the two of us were out at a taco truck, waiting for our food, when we noticed some blinking lights in a nearby office building. They looked kind of like strobe lights, so we started joking about dance parties, then kitty dance parties, and then Secret Hidden Kitty dance parties.

Sometime shortly after that, my dad was diagnosed with Stage IV pancreatic cancer. I was devastated, because we'd been through this with another relative and I knew how bad it could get. (And the prognosis turned out to be just as bad as I feared).

My parents were determined to keep a positive outlook, so I tried to follow their lead. Occasionally, I'd joke with Mr. creepygirl about having a bad day and wishing for a Secret Hidden Kitty dance party.

Mr. creepygirl, very casually, asked, "So what do you think that would be like?"

I said, "Um, lots of music, and lots of kitties, and food, and no pressure on the kitties to dance," (We also have a running joke that I think kitties should be pampered and accommodated in every way).

Maybe a week or two after that, I received a couple of envelopes addressed to Secret Hidden Kitty [c/o creepygirl]. Inside were invitations/RSVP cards with pictures of cats playing.

They said:
Tired of that piece of string?
You're invited to Secret Hidden Kitty Dance Party!
Show Up, dance (or not, no pressure), have fun!
Location: Office building near that one taco truck
Girly drinks!
Parlor games!
Catered food [a reference to "And I'll cater, with all the birds that I can kill"]

He'd sent them out to all of our friends with cats, and the cards were addressed to and ostensibly filled out by the cats. Some of the owners sent photos and notes about their cats as well.

It was a really sweet gesture, and the cards were one small thing to make me smile during a very difficult time.

In case it's not obvious, I love my husband.
posted by creepygirl at 4:48 PM on July 19, 2015 [19 favorites]

And all of this made me go digging through the giant bin of t-shirts that I will eventually make into a quilt and discovered that I have *five* Weakerthans shirts. None of which it.

I spent an afternoon shaking my fist at my skinnier self for not having more forethought in buying larger sizes.
posted by bibliogrrl at 9:04 AM on July 21, 2015

I live in Winnipeg and, from time to time, I see John K. I saw him a few months ago at a local coffee shop. He has let his hair and beard grow long, but one can still discern the boyish face and sparkling eyes amid all that hair. He briefly chatted with one of the staff before leaving, and I take comfort in knowing he's out there, living his life, quietly and modestly, like the rest of us.
posted by toby_ann at 10:16 AM on July 22, 2015 [2 favorites]

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