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One Track Mind

John Darnielle discusses and performs “Stabbed To Death Outside San Juan”
About This Episode

It’s been three years since the release of The Mountain Goats’ last full-length album, Transcendental Youth. In that time, Mountain Goats’ mastermind John Darnielle became a father, published his first novel, and stockpiled songs inspired by a youthful fascination with professional wrestling. The squared circle is a fresh setting for Darnielle, but Beat The Champ—which arrives in North America via Merge Records on April 7—still bears the hallmarks of his main musical outlet: impeccable storytelling, deep thoughts about mortality and other human concerns. And, most importantly, Darnielle’s voice and guitar, the two instruments he brought along to perform Beat The Champ’s “Stabbed To Death Outside San Juan” for One Track Mind. Among the humming refrigerator’s of Sam’s Quik Stop (in Darnielle’s adopted hometown of Durham, North Carolina), the singer-songwriter recounted the tragedy of Frank Goodish (a.k.a. Bruiser Brody, a.k.a. King Kong Brody), whose unsolved murder before a match in Puerto Rico forms the basis of “Stabbed To Death Outside San Juan.” It’s a quintessential Mountain Goats composition, in which Darnielle steps into the shoes of yet another ill-fated soul, his doomy strumming setting the scene for Goodish’s final moments—and his encounter with a graph of heavenly bodies.