"It Should Be Called 'Hawaiian Feeling'": On Artistic Anxiety and Great Music

This week a new story of mine, "Invasion from Planet-Z400," went up at fwriction : review. The folks at fwriction curate an ever-growing playlist of songs chosen by their contributors, and I wanted to talk a bit about my contribution. I chose "The Day the Aliens Came (Hawaiian Feeling)" by the Mountain Goats, a song off the 2005 LP Come, Come to the Sunset Tree. 

It's an assertive, unhinged, very compelling song, the singer looking adamantly forward to the day their troubles lift. Their specific vision of the future, involving alien invasion and their own glory in the midst of destruction, is unlikely—sounds, in fact, crazy—but I've found it a stand-in for any hope for deliverance from an unbearable situation. There are times in everyone's life when any solution to a problem seems equally fantastic--sure, I might find a way out of this situation. Or aliens might invade. Why not both? Why not one via the other?

This song also begins with a preamble from John Darnielle, apparently addressed to the song's producers—explaining the key; apologizing for the guitar he's using; expressing a wistful hope for the title ("It should be called 'Hawaiian Feeling,' but probably can't be called that"). It's perfectly natural to introduce a demo, and the extra para-song is charming, but I also love it for peeling back the work's cover to show a hint at the process, the vision, and the gentle anxiety that go along with making something. 

I think that this song is brilliant, and is thematically a good fit for the most generous reading of "Invasion from Planet Z-4000"—which, as I didn't realize until my thesis director diagnosed it, is ultimately a story about artistic anxiety, my own and in general.