John K. Samson has finished the Virtute song series
November 2, 2016 8:29 PM   Subscribe

In 2003, The Weakerthans, fronted by John K. Samson, released One Great City! On the album was a song named Plea From A Cat Named Virtute.

Virtute The Cat Explains Her Departure was on the 2007 Weakerthans album Reunion Tour.

John K. Samson's new album Winter Wheat came out on October 21st.

We finally hear from Virtute's owner in 17th St. Treatment Center.

The album ends with Virtute At Rest.
posted by MrVisible (40 comments total) 59 users marked this as a favorite

I can't take much more of this.
posted by maudlin at 8:45 PM on November 2, 2016 [17 favorites]

I feel grateful that the last song didn't get me like the first song did the first time I heard it. I couldn't have taken it.
posted by bleep at 8:52 PM on November 2, 2016 [3 favorites]

As. Nice post. I love this song.
posted by es_de_bah at 9:48 PM on November 2, 2016 [1 favorite]

I listened. I lived. Thank you.
posted by maudlin at 9:53 PM on November 2, 2016 [2 favorites]

The first two are just … too good. Scared to listen to the rest. <3

Also John K Samson was in my dream last night, so this seems appropriate.
posted by wemayfreeze at 9:55 PM on November 2, 2016 [2 favorites]

The last two songs provide a sense of closure to the story that I didn't believe was possible.

I cried great heaving blubbering sobs at the end of the last one, but they were the good kind.
posted by MrVisible at 9:59 PM on November 2, 2016 [3 favorites]

Crying a little and petting my cat who loves me.
posted by nicebookrack at 10:44 PM on November 2, 2016 [1 favorite]

I really, really like that song
posted by james33 at 2:00 AM on November 3, 2016 [1 favorite]

Never have I hit 'add to favorites' with so much meaning.
posted by Catseye at 3:11 AM on November 3, 2016 [6 favorites]

Very little can make me cry more reliably than the first two songs in this cycle. Thanks for this.
posted by penduluum at 3:51 AM on November 3, 2016 [1 favorite]

This guy! I was totally unaware of him until the local NPR station played Postdoc Blues off this album a few weeks back. It is now my lowfi academic talk anthem.

Thanks for reminding me I needed to go back to listen through his earlier stuff.
posted by deludingmyself at 5:34 AM on November 3, 2016

I held my breath the entire song, waiting, expecting, to be torn apart. The song ended and I exhaled and took a sip of my coffee. No tears, just relief. John must have written that song to free all of us who got caught up in that world.
posted by tehjoel at 5:41 AM on November 3, 2016 [6 favorites]

Whoa - very pleased to see this news. Given the songs that followed, the first one feels like the odd one out, rocking pretty hard where the others shake out into ballads pretty fast. He delivers these simple lines - "Most of us probably not getting better, but not getting better together" - that, I think, get a lot of their emotional impact from his patient delivery, his lovely reedy voice perfectly complementing their simplicity.

Some of my favorite JKS/Weakerthans songs deal with mental illness - Utilities (where he really shows off the terrific effect of just listing things), the sonnets on Reconstruction Site (especially Hospital Vespers).

When I was younger I wanted to see a rock band collab between John K Samson and Ted Leo, but now that I'm a little older I want to see a sweet sad project by John K Samson and John Darnielle.
posted by entropone at 5:43 AM on November 3, 2016 [14 favorites]

No song has ever made me cry the same way "Virtute the Cat Explains Her Departure" has. I've been a fan of the Weakerthans for seven or eight years now since my wife introduced them to me, and I've only in the last few months gotten to a point where I can listen to it without crying.

Thanks for the heads up on the new album! I really appreciate it.
posted by Caduceus at 5:52 AM on November 3, 2016 [9 favorites]

Dammit, just seeing that title is enough to get the water works flowing.
posted by MartinWisse at 6:20 AM on November 3, 2016 [3 favorites]

Another person who gets reduced to emotional wreckage with astonishing reliability by "Explains Her Departure" here, checking in to say "Virtute At Rest" got me choked up at work but it was the happy kind. Also the fact that it's only about a minute and a half long helps.
posted by valrus at 6:36 AM on November 3, 2016 [1 favorite]

I'm already an emotional wreck today go cubs so there is no way I'm digging in to the new songs until I get home. (thank you for the post!!)
posted by bibliogrrl at 6:56 AM on November 3, 2016 [1 favorite]

Thanks for this post! I wasn't aware of Samson's new solo album. Will be buying ASAP.
posted by Ike_Arumba at 7:05 AM on November 3, 2016 [1 favorite]

I saw Virtute at Rest through a Youtube page that had the lyrics posted, so I was able to ease into it. Thank goodness.
posted by marguerite at 7:17 AM on November 3, 2016 [1 favorite]

Who knew happy memories and cautious hope for the future could be so heartwrenching?
posted by whuppy at 7:31 AM on November 3, 2016 [2 favorites]

I want to see a sweet sad project by John K Samson and John Darnielle.

I want that desperately too, but I suspect that if they got together they'd form the world's most literate death-metal band.
posted by MrVisible at 7:51 AM on November 3, 2016 [8 favorites]

I can remember crying to much to Departure, not sure I'm ready for At Rest.
posted by Kurichina at 8:07 AM on November 3, 2016 [1 favorite]

  Postdoc Blues … is now my lowfi academic talk anthem.

It's a lot more hopeful and realistic than his earlier When I Write My Masters Thesis, anyway.
posted by scruss at 8:08 AM on November 3, 2016 [3 favorites]

I got divorced last year and left the two cats with the ex in the only house they've ever known. It was the right decision.

These songs hit so fucking hard, though, now--I can't listen to any of them without sobbing to the point of doubling over, gasping for air.

Thanks for this post.
posted by VeritableSaintOfBrevity at 8:18 AM on November 3, 2016 [5 favorites]

For those wishing for Johns Samson and Darnielle to do a collab, here's some apocrypha to whet your appetite further:
- Darnielle waxing rhapsodic about "One Great City!" after Samson performs it at a songwriter panel at something called "Ships and Dip"
- Photos of a Mountain Goats show at "ZOOP II" at Farm Sanctuary, where Samson was a special guest and played an opening set of which as far as I know there are no extant recordings
posted by valrus at 8:26 AM on November 3, 2016 [7 favorites]

...and also, from the same panel, Samson discussing advice he received from Danielle, and then performing his wonderful song "Bigfoot!"
posted by neroli at 9:14 AM on November 3, 2016 [4 favorites]

This was nice to see. I'll be at tonight's album release, less because I'm a fan (though I've known and liked John's music for north of a decade) than because he's the skip of my partner's curling team. One great (and small) city, indeed.
posted by wreckingball at 10:21 AM on November 3, 2016 [7 favorites]

I saw The Weakerthans once (video here) and seeing "Virtute The Cat Explains Her Departure" performed live was one of the most overwhelming emotional experiences I've ever had. I actually haven't listened to that song since. Between that show and the time I saw Propagandhi on their tour for Less Talk, More Rock, John K. Samson was involved in 2 out of 5 of the best musical experiences of my life.
posted by ndfine at 11:46 AM on November 3, 2016 [3 favorites]

Nope, still can't see the title of "Departure" without crying. I guess I'll check back in a couple years' time. Started crying at the top of the post, listened to the new songs, have now booked off the entire afternoon to sob. It's better but not better enough. You think about what you did, John Samson; Virtute is apparently more forgiving than I am.
posted by ilana at 12:09 PM on November 3, 2016 [7 favorites]

Thanks so much for posting this! I've written before about how much the first song meant to me. The second song just gutted me, so I am so relieved that there's closure at last for Virtute.
posted by creepygirl at 1:21 PM on November 3, 2016 [3 favorites]

Mixcloud mix here.
posted by oluckyman at 6:42 PM on November 3, 2016 [1 favorite]

Well I honestly didn't know until reading this AV Club essay that the cat's name is Virtute, not Virtue. My eyes skimmed right over that every time. Also I lost one cat and had to give the other up (to a happy home, thank god) last year, so stop making me cry about cat things, Internet.
posted by MsMolly at 8:31 PM on November 3, 2016 [1 favorite]

Song Virtute impacted me so much as a young high schooler Teslacoilswoah. I met John K at a show a few years ago and I cried and thanked him for writing songs that helped so much.

Now for some sad!: I got a cat two years ago and named him Virtute. When you think of an awesome, supportive, loving, smart cat, this was that cat. When I learned about Winter Wheat I immediately pre-ordered it, with the Vivat Virtute shirt. Two weeks to the day before it came out my Virtute went missing after a big storm (and has not returned still). I had two weeks of anticipating the most crying ever. And cry I did. But I'm glad to know song Virtute is at rest.
posted by teslacoilswoah at 10:04 PM on November 3, 2016 [4 favorites]

John K. Samson has such an incredible talent for writing songs that capture details and feelings that would be easy enough to overlook, but which he shows us are important things to remember and consider. there are so many lines from so many songs that just bowl me over.

god, I love his writing style. seeing him perform live, whether as part of the Weakerthans or as a solo artist (I've never seen Propagandhi live, sadly), is a moving, fun, overwhelming, completely necessary experience.
posted by gursky at 1:51 AM on November 4, 2016

Vivat Virtute = Live Power. I'd never looked that up. Virtute is perfectly named.

I'm so sorry about your cat, teslacoilswoah.
posted by marguerite at 5:27 AM on November 4, 2016

The year is 2012. My cat has just died unexpectedly, and I am listening to Plea from a Cat Named Virtute and crying at my desk at work.

I can still barely keep it together when I hear that song. But I keep listening. Okay, I'm going to take a deep breath and try the new songs. Thanks for posting!
posted by agentofselection at 10:54 AM on November 4, 2016 [2 favorites]

Against my better judgment I came back into this thread, read teslacoilswoah's comment (I'm so sorry!), read the essays, and am promptly bawling again. If I ever change jobs from theatre professor to theatre actor, I know exactly what I need to think of to cry on cue.

(Of course, the essay was a musing on the sadness of depression and destructive relationships, and now my literary analysis brain is kind of embarrassed because I can't really get beyond "poor kitty WAAAAAAAAAHHHHUHUHUH")
posted by ilana at 11:47 AM on November 4, 2016 [2 favorites]

  because he's the skip of my partner's curling team

this could well be the most Canadian statement ever uttered. Not just because of the content (JKS, curling), but also because of the low-key delivery of a gently awesome connection.

Just listened to the album. Really good. Last one made the room dusty.
posted by scruss at 2:49 PM on November 5, 2016 [2 favorites]

"Let it rest, all you can't change. Let it rest and be done."
posted by Theta States at 5:13 AM on December 1, 2016 [4 favorites]

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