Photo detail from an advertisement for Pro-Fighting Equipment Ltd., 1981
The early Mountain Goats releases often came in the form of home-recorded songs on a cassette. My favorite of these early cassettes, which boasts one of the greatest titles ever given to anything, is 1994's Yam, the King of Crops, released on the tiny UK label Oska Records. The title is a reference to Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart, and the cassette may or may not be a concept mini-album about that book (reference to Quetzalcoatal and kimchi throw some doubt on that theory). Darnielle has said that Yam, the King of Crops may be his favorite of his recordings, and it has some awesome songs on it. It also has "Two Thousand Seasons".
Nestled in between two great songs, "Alagemo" and "Chinese Rifle Song", "Two Thousand Seasons" is a minute and a half of pure discomfort. Accompanied only by an irritating, mechanical whirring sound, Darnielle sings a morbid lyric about annihilation in that high, keening voice he used to use all the time. The lyric is actually from the slavery epic also titled Two Thousand Seasons by African author Ayi Kwei Armah. Regardless of its scholarly origin, though, the song is just not a good listen in any way, and based on what I see here, it is the least favorite Mountain Goats song among many fans. So, at least I'm in good company, if I choose to think of Mountain Goats fans as good company (you don't have to spend much time on the forum I linked to before having some serious doubts). The only remaining question is, "What is making that whirring sound?" Google isn't really helping me out on that - one reviewer refers to the noise-maker as a "whirligig", but I think he's just guessing.
"Two Thousand Seasons" by the Mountain Goats