The Mountain Goats Wiki
The Mountain Goats Wiki
 1 Samuel 15:23


 The Life of the World to Come




the Mountain Goats



Next Track

"Psalms 40:2"

1 Samuel 15:23 is the first song on the album The Life of the World to Come. It also appears as the eleventh song on the 2020 live album The Jordan Lake Sessions: Volumes 1 and 2.

Bible Verse[]

For rebellion is like the sin of divination, and arrogance like the evil of idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, he has rejected you as king. NIV Translation


I became a crystal healer and my ministry was to the sick 
Creeping vines would send out runners and seek me in their numbers 
I sold self-help tapes 
Go down to the netherworld, plant grapes

And as word spread of my powers they would seek me far and wide 
All sad faces at my window I would welcome them inside 
I sewed clothes for them: cloaks and capes 
Go down to the netherworld, plant grapes

My house will be for all people who have nowhere to go 
My supply of shining crystals a shield against the snow 
There's more like me where I come from, so mark our shapes 
Go down to the netherworld, plant grapes

Comments by John Darnielle About this Song[]

  • "[interviewer: 'So it's a song about a faith healer?'] Yeah, crystal healer, some necromancer or somebody healing in some, some, uh, witch-doctory sort of way.... The Bible and Christianity, which are two different things, uh, uh, is a number of things throughout history to a number of people and quite often, if, uh, if like me, you're a big believer in, in the social justice side of the Gospels and if you lean far left, um, you look at the history of, of what the Bible was used to do to, uh, women or, uh, anyone who, who was anywhere outside the mainstream throughout the Middle Ages, it's a bad scene, you know, and so the speaker in this is the person being attacked by First Samuel, um, and is sort of making his case and it's like, I think, you know, it's- it's a crying shame what the church did to people in the name of prosecuting witchcraft. It's a, it's a huge historical injustice, uh, that can't be redressed, and that's the thing about it, people can apologize all they want, but there's nothing you can do to bring, you know, bring justice to those people, except maybe give them a voice somehow, you know, although I'm mainly just telling a story..." -- 2009-10-05 - Soundcheck - WNYC Session - New York, NY
  • "This is a song about, uh, safe spaces, I think." -- 2012-09-01 - Front Porch Music Festival - Livermore, CA
  • "This is a true story about the time that I became a crystal healer and I ministered to all of the sick who I could find. There was no shortage of sick people, so I was a very busy crystal healer. I actually got too busy, I got tired of working double shifts, so I found a different line of work. But not before healing many people with crystals. I figure, if this dries up I can always go back to the crystals. I hear the field -- no, not crystal. No, that's a different earlier time in my life. That was not a profitable time at all, on account of I couldn't follow commandment number two, don't get high on your own supply." -- 2013-06-05 - Maxwell's - Hoboken, NJ
  • "This song is a more or less straight autobiographical sketch telling the story of when I studied crystal healing under the guidance of a very old man who had no name. He lived in a cave in eastern Kentucky. The water in his cave was delicious and cold. I studied with him for thirty years, and then one day he said that he couch teach me no more and that I had to share the power of the crystals with the world, by which I took him to mean that I had to work for free. I kind of wish I asked him to elaborate a little more, because you get pretty hungry working for free, and people don't ask you to heal them when you're visibly wasting away right in front of them. Anyway, the whole crystal healing business suffered a severe downturn once reiki became popular, and so I got into music instead. But in my heart I'll always be Johnny Crystal first and foremost, and I figured it was time to write a song about it. This is that song and it's all true, every last word." -- 7/29/2009 - The Life of the World to Come: a film by Rian Johnson, liner notes

Things Referenced in this Song[]

Live Shows this Song Was Played at[]

Videos of this Song[]