There are many reasons—too many to count—why Twitter is bad.
Putting aside that it still hasn’t banned Nazis, or that it’s doing a piss-poor job of preventing the spread of disinformation, it’s also a platform designed for us to indulge in our worst internet habits. Doomscrolling on Twitter does nothing more than to exacerbate our sense of existential dread. It fuels our stress, anxiety, and anger. And that’s especially true in the midst of a global pandemic and the most bonkers election in at least a generation.
But every once and a while there comes a time where two people on that cursed website have a meaningful exchange. Something that I, perhaps naively, want to believe is why Twitter was created in the first place.
These instances are fleeting and don’t usually amount to much. But in the case of John Darnielle, the frontperson of indie-rock legends The Mountain Goats, one such exchange led to a beautiful new song, called “Picture of My Dress,” on the band’s upcoming album.
— The Mountain Goats (@mountain_goats) October 13, 2020
As Darnielle explained on—you guessed it—Twitter yesterday, the song comes from a Twitter exchange he had with poet Maggie Smith, who in late 2018 tweeted about her desire to see a photo essay of a divorced woman driving across the country to take pictures of her rumpled wedding dress in various locales. “It’s a metaphorical ‘Weekend at Bernie’s,’” she wrote. Darnielle replied back, perhaps cheekily, that “this would be a song called ‘Picture of My Dress,” and that the ideal musician to write it would be Mary Chapin Carpenter.
Of course, that didn’t happen and Darnielle ended up writing it. Like most Mountain Goats songs, it’s a sanguine story. It’s a lovely little tune with some of Darnielle’s trademark wit and observational humor (I laughed at the line: “I’m in the bathroom of a Dallas Texas Burger King/ Mr. Steven Tyler is on the overhead speakers/ He doesn’t want to miss a thing.”). Would it have been better if Mary Chapin Carpenter wrote it? Probably. But a Mountain Goats song about this is the next best thing.