Jason Molina: Riding with the Ghost
Jason Molina: Riding with the Ghost

Jason Molina: Riding with the Ghost

by Erin Osmon


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Erin Osmon presents a detailed account of the Rust Belt–born visionary, prolific, and at times cantankerous singer-songwriter Jason Molina. As the first authorized account of this self-mythologizer, the book provides readers with unparalleled insight into Molina’s tormented life and the Midwest musical underground that birthed him.

Editorial Reviews


Jason Molina: Riding with the Ghost, written by Erin Osmon, pretty much answered questions about Molnia’s life that some of me never wanted to know. From tales of his youth in a trailer park Lorain, OH to memories in recording studios and overseas, this family-authorized book really covered it all. Family, friends, bandmates, and even tourmates all provided insight to the life of Molina. Where most of the book spoke on Molina’s journeys from Songs: Ohia to Magnolia Electric Company and even his solo work and impromptu sessions, the book also brought to light family tensions, failed relationships, depression, and of course the demise of greatness.... Overall, the book carried a life-spanning account of a musician from his young days on Lake Erie to his final days secluded in a room slowly drowning his life away. The emotions were really felt through this book from those who were stunned at his approach to making music to finding out their friend was no more.... Fans of Molina will appreciate this book due to all of the content Osmon was able to hunt down over the span of three years. There were so many angles of Molina’s life put down in this book and I am sure it was not easyfor Osmon to capture it all, yet she did it well.

Rob Bowman

During his all-too-short lifetime, Jason Molina created some of the most emotionally stirring, soul-enriching, and thought-provoking rock this side of Neil Young, Lou Reed, and Nick Drake. First time author Erin Osmon has crafted a meticulously researched biography infused with both passion and a keen analytic eye. During his lifetime, Molina was criminally under recognized. In a perfect world, 'smon’s loving tribute will play its part in rectifying this.

Jim DeRogatis

In Jason Molina: Riding with the Ghost, Erin Osmon gives us a riveting biography not only of a great musician whose work deserves to be much wider known, but a well-rounded portrait of a fascinating human being, as well as a glimpse into the creative process. It's a ride well worth taking.

Glide Magazine

Jason Molina: Riding with the Ghost delves into each period of the artist’s life: from his first high school punk band Chronic Insanity, to his last days with heralded alt-country act Magnolia Electric Co., and the numerous iterations of his beloved folk-leaning band Songs: Ohia, as well as solo material and unreleased demos unkown to fans. It’s a fascinating look at one of the last pre-internet indie successes and the underground music scene that supported his meteoric rise. The book also examines the origin story of Bloomington, IN-based Secretly Canadian, and how the record label and Molina became inexorably linked in a nearly 17-year run as label and artist, despite major ideological and technological shifts in the landscape of independent music. It’s a book not just for Molina fans, but for music fans — a story for the ages that explores the triumphs and pitfalls of a very pure artistic spirit.

Winnipeg Free Press

Jason Molina: Riding With the Ghost absolutely communicates just what Molina’s life meant to family, friends, collaborators and fans.... Osmon does an excellent job of painting a nuanced portrait of a complex human being.... Her interviews with former band members and those involved with the production process yield a lot of wonderful insight into Molina’s singular and demanding creative process and his prolificacy.... It was already clear from his immense output that there is endless meaning to be gleaned from Jason Molina’s body of work, but Osmon takes the story of his short, bright time on Earth, warts and all — just like a Songs: Ohia record, 'no overdubs!' — and puts it in the context of a real human life. And that unveils depths to his music that we’re only now able to explore.


'smon's biography is a must read for anyone who has more than a casual relationship with Molina's work; which, in my guess, would be anyone who has heard Molina's work.... Osmon pulls back the curtain and shows us Molina the man.

Decoder Magazine

Riding With The Ghost...captures the heaviness and levity that coexisted in Molina’s personality, and it enriches a moving and inexhaustible artistic legacy.


The anecdotal details from Jason Molina: Riding with the Ghost are what ring most vividly, exposing a side of Molina that rarely came through in his melancholic music.... Riding with the Ghost also enriches his songs, illuminating their characters in their own words and supplying context to the places they were set.

Jessica Hopper

Jason Molina: Riding with the Ghost accomplishes a tremendous feat—an examination of Molina's life and work as rich, complex, and fearless as the music he made. Erin Osmon unpacks the mythology and gives us a portrait that is human, tangible, and deeply moving.


Never short on details, it’s a ravenous fan’s dream.... Osmon provides the deepest of glimpses into Molina’s worlds. All the trinket-filled mysteries left behind by one of the greatest songwriters who ever wrote a note are captured here.... Thanks ... Osmon for a guided tour of Molina’s mythological palette, warts and all.

International Times

[E]mpathetic and informative.... Erin Osmon is a great biographer, writer and critic. She has used new interviews to weave an empathetic and informative story around Molina and his music, without turning him into a martyr, without trying to make him even more of a cult figure than he has become. She does not condone or condemn, simply tells it straight. Here is the story of one creative spirit who could not cope. Here is how he lived and made the music he left behind. Read and listen: it is the story of how music is made.

Bob Mehr

Erin Osmon paints an empathetic and deeply human portrait of Jason Molina, both the artist and the man. A biography that's as beautifully haunting as one of his songs.

Third Coast Review

If Jason Molina has ever been important to you, then you need to read the book, because Osmon did a magnificent job detailing Molina’s life, struggles, music, and demise. So many lingering questions are answered, and questions you’d never considered are answered as well. Read it. Now.

Pitchfork Media Inc.

Among Riding with the Ghost’s most memorable passages are instances of Molina’s fandom, from his unconditional love for Sade and his evangelizing of Kraftwerk to Damien Jurado, to his edict to bandmates to study Neil Young’s After the Gold Rush. Molina’s passion rings through these pages, nowhere more distinctly than in the retelling of the fateful interaction that launched his career while studying at Oberlin College (where he was known as 'Sparky').

Aquarium Drunkard

In her new book, Riding With the Ghost, writer Erin 'smon accomplishes a tricky feat regarding the late Jason Molina... She presents Molina, whose work can so often mythic, as if carved from ancient stone, fully as a person, with faults, desires, humors, and failings. She doesn’t strip his songs of their mystery or allure, but rather illustrates the idiosyncratic and personal details that led to his remarkable words and melodies. In doing so, she gives us the gift of more fully knowing Molina, as well as his companions and friends, those who traveled alongside him through life.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781442268678
Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
Publication date: 05/15/2017
Pages: 240
Product dimensions: 6.20(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.00(d)

Customer Reviews