Mason Jennings – Ulysses

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Music blogs should be less about talking at you than talking with you. We love feedback, comments, opinions, and suggestions here at Those Who Dig and Holler Back! is our attempt at engaging more directly with you, our beloved readers. Each entry will be based around a theme and we'll ask for comments and opinions!

Mason Jennings – Ulysses


At some point in my college years I had the somewhat shocking revelation that Mason Jennings' "Ulysses" is written about me. Like, pretty much every word of it. I guess the revelation was more that either Mason had been stalking me for years or that me and Mr. Jennings are very, very similar people. I kind of wish it was the former (no creepy), but of course it's probably the latter.

Thus is the topic for our first Holler Back!: songs that are totally about you. Not just speak to you, but about you.

Let's break it down a bit.

The song starts with a slow fade in of Jennings rocking the main riff on an acoustic. The fade in makes it feel like the song has been playing my whole life and I'm only suddenly awakening to it. In no time, Mason's vocal theatrics begin as he searches bookstores for Ulysses (a favorite of mine), since Motherwell led him to believe it would answer life's questions. The artistic allusions are always appreciated, especially when it's an artist whose work and writings I love.

Then it gets weird. "Loose green tea and a bonsai tree". That's me, dammit! I had a bonsai tree I affectionately named Ella in college and I've always had a penchant for green tea of the loose variety.

The mundane description of his night alone in his apartment is spot-on, and the line "oh Jesus Christ, how I hate making phone calls" really resonates with a dude who for a long time had to be forced into doing things and (still) hates talking on the phone. "The funeral of the man I was, told me not to doubt you" is a beautiful line of transformation and learning to love.

It took me about 30 listens before I realized that what he was saying in between verses was "Buddha" and not just "boo daaa", and the realization made me love the song even more. As an atheist, the only religion that's ever grabbed me and I've taken any initiative to learn about is Buddhism. Right on, Mason. The failed trip to the liquor store for a bottle to drink alone is the final action in Mason's boring night, and I can't say I've never been there.

Well, that was probably (definitely) more personal than any post I've ever written on Those Who Dig, so I hope a couple of people out there were actually interested. As this is also one of my all-time favorite songs, this post is doubling as an induction of "Ulysses" into the Shrine of Dig.


Let's all get this Holler Back! feature going by leaving comments on this post telling us the songs that you've discovered to be about you, and if you feel like divulging, maybe a few of the ways you relate to it. So Holler Back, cause we don't bite!