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No Children






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No Children is the seventh song on the album Tallahassee. It also appears as the 17th song on the 2020 live album The Jordan Lake Sessions: Volumes 1 and 2. "Jazz No Children," a version with an extended jazzy intro, appears as the 31st track on the 2021 live album The Jordan Lake Sessions: Volumes 3 and 4. It was performed by Laura Stevenson on Tallahassee Turns Ten.

"No Children" is arguably the most popular Mountain Goats song to date, and has become a staple during show encores. It is the band's most played song on Spotify with over 31 million streams as of December 2021. The song has garnered over 5.1 million views on YouTube and was featured on an episode of Morel Orel. Over 20 years after its release, the song gained attention as the subject of a TikTok trend. A demo version was posted on the Mountain Goats forums by John Darnielle on March 26, 2007.


I hope that our few remaining friends
Give up on trying to save us
I hope we come up with a failsafe plot
To piss off the dumb few that forgave us
I hope the fences we mended
Fall down beneath their own weight
And I hope we hang on past the last exit
I hope it's already too late
And I hope the junkyard a few blocks from here
Someday burns down
And I hope the rising black smoke carries me far away
And I never come back to this town
Again in my life
I hope I lie
And tell everyone you were a good wife
And I hope you die
I hope we both die

I hope I cut myself shaving tomorrow
I hope it bleeds all day long
Our friends say it's darkest before the sun rises
We're pretty sure they're all wrong
I hope it stays dark forever
I hope the worst isn't over
And I hope you blink before I do
Yeah I hope I never get sober
And I hope when you think of me years down the line
You can't find one good thing to say
And I'd hope that if I found the strength to walk out
You'd stay the hell out of my way
I am drowning
There is no sign of land
You are coming down with me
Hand in unlovable hand
And I hope you die
I hope we both die

Comments by John Darnielle About this Song[]

  • "This here is a song. That I want you to the one you love. When the time comes, you will know when the time comes. You won't like it. You won't feel like singing. I want you to remember, when the time comes that I told you this thing would happen. It will make you look crazy. There's nothing like looking crazy to give you the edge." -- 2004-02-28 - The Empty Bottle - Chicago, IL
  • "Anyway, if you like this song and you know the words, I should like for you to sing it like you mean it, all of the words, because there may come a day, there may come a day when you're gonna need the words to this song. You'll be sitting there, going, 'What has become of my marriage? This blows!' I want you to remember that I gave you a little something that you could sing, because when that time comes, there won't be much to do besides sing." -- 2006-08-10 - 40 Watt Club - Athens, GA
  • "I meant to tell you something about that song. The last time I was here was in 2001...I drove to the airport in Des Moines, and, that's where I lived at the time, was in Ames, Iowa. And I drove to Des Moines, and on the way into Des Moines, I heard a song that was very popular at the time, because Des Moines is very into country radio, and it was that 'I Hope You Dance' song, right? And I was listening and I thought 'God, this is horrifying! This is a terrible, terrible song, teaching people awful lies! And I was sorta singing along at the same time because it had a catchy melody. And the song goes 'I hope you dance, I hope you dance!', right? And I just sorta vamped on it, I went like 'I hope you die, I hope you die!', right? And I thought 'Well, that's an idea, isn't it?' So I scribbled it down on a receipt, and I tucked it into my pocket, and I got on the plane in Des Moines, and flew to Athens. And I had an idea or two. And Team Claremont checked me into the Days Inn, and I had a couple hours to kill, and I wrote the first verse. And I was like 'Oh God, I hope I remember this song, it seems like a good idea.' So, thank you all for that." -- 2006-08-10 - 40 Watt Club - Athens, GA
  • "There may come a day, as I say, when you may have cause to sing this song. I hope that that day never comes. At the same time, I know that it will. Let’s not kid each other. You're going to have a very bad relationship someday. It's not just gonna suck, it's gonna suck ASS. You’re going to make up a little chart of all the asses that it sucks. It’ll be your ass-chart on your bedroom wall. Your significant other will say, 'What is this?' and you will say 'Oh, they’re butts. Just butts.' and they'll say, 'The hell they are; that's an ass-chart!' Where will you be then, O Sinner? As the great worm that never dies curls its slimy folds around your naked heart, you will need a song to sing. This is that song." -- 2006-09-26 - Middle East Downstairs - Cambridge, MA
  • "You're up to a point in the marriage where you say 'look, I have to be honest. Perhaps I have not been honest with you before. And I cannot place blame for that anywhere but on my own head. I am the one who has not been honest. Perhaps I am he with whom the fault lay. But that in no way invalidates the feelings I need to share with you now. So leave us not go to the discussion where we talk about maybe I should've said something earlier, because that's not gonna be a helpful discussion. Perhaps my feelings would be better addressed in song.'" -- 2008-03-05 - Troubadour - Los Angeles, CA
  • "It is a song of hope." "This is a love song"-- 2009-04-06 - Buskirk-Chumley Theater - Bloomington, IN
  • "This is a song about letting the rich, positive energy between two people flow. Right down the drain...And watching it go, and watching the scum rush in after it, and saying, hey, whaddaya know. There it went. We scrubbed it clean. I'll be damned. So will you." -- 2011-08-05 - Lollapalooza - Grand Park - Chicago, IL
  • "This is a song about people who like to drink too much. People who like to break windows...All this stuff sounds good right about until year three. This song is about the night on which the romantic part of the alcoholic marriage sees the last vestige of its romance go up like a puff of steam, and yellow against the light in the kitchen, sorta burn itself into the globe over the light there, permanently." -- 2012-01-31 - Visulite Theatre - Charlotte, NC
  • "People ask me to play this song at their weddings. I'm flattered and honored, and I decline to play this song at anybody's wedding. I keep waiting for somebody to say, 'Well, we're having the final hearing. You remember I asked you to play this at our wedding? I was wondering if you'd come to this little office, it's off a frontage road, it's very nondescript—they share a space with a massage therapist and an insurance guy, and you could come and play this song at the hearing, and sing it like you mean it.' I keep waiting for that 'cause I think, don't tell anybody, but I think if somebody said 'John, come play No Children at my divorce hearing,' how could I say no?" -- 2012-05-06 - The Metro - Sydney, Australia
  • "Speaking of songs written at traffic lights... I was driving to Des Moines, as you do, listening to the radio because we had no tape deck, and a song came on called 'I Hope You Dance.' And I hated that song. And it was a long drive, I started riffing on it. I was amused with my riffing. When I got to the airport, I wrote a little of it down. When I got to Athens, Georgia for PopFest 99, I finished writing most of the lyric in... I want to say, Days Inn or Motel 6, but it was a little beneath both of those. And through what can only be described as a miracle, the hotel - motel stationary on which I had written the lyrics to the 'I Hope You Dance' riff made it all the way back to Iowa where I lived at the time. And I was working on a record for 4AD at the time and I was really anxious about making them something they would like, because at the end of the day, I aim to please. I thought, this could be a good one. I didn't have a title for it, I just had all these lines where these people were saying that they hoped horrible things for one another. I needed a good title for the lyric, I thought it was potentially a winner... And I started thinking about my characters - what do I know about them? What am I certain is true about them? What I am certain is true is that it is better for all of us if they never breed. And I wrote at the top of a piece of paper, which, like, there is an alternate universe where this is the only piece of paper that survives of my life, and at the top of the paper, it says 'No Children.'" -- 2019-04-26 - 9:30 Club - Washington, D.C.
  • "this is a song that people play in their cars, outside the courthouse, when they finally get their walking papers. I'm proud that we have a song that serves that function, because people don't usually focus on that for songs. people- especially now, in the era of 'woah woah, indie man,' people are not writing a song like, 'wOAh wOAh, i got my divOOrce!!' they don't do that; that's our job." -- 2021-02-28 - Jordan Lake Sessions - Pittsboro, NC,
  • "Now friends, there comes a time in every person's life where they have to say, 'Enough is enough, I've had enough. I thought I had an infinite capacity, but my capacity was not infinite. I've had enough and I can't do more, I can't contain more. I'm full.' There comes a time when you say this, and the person to whom you're saying it says, 'Me too. I've had enough. It's odd you should say that, I was just getting ready to come and tell you that I've had enough, that I can't anymore. I mean, I could try, but I can't, and I won't.' It's on a morning like this with the sun streaming in through the dingy windows of your Tallahassee ranch-style house, that you realize that you've come to the end of the road, that it lacks the lush, satisfying vistas of the end of the road as described by boys to men from Philadelphia and it's a different sort of end of the road. It's an end of the road where the road has run out, and there's nothing but weed and gators. When you're looking eye-to-eye with the gator, and asking whether to tell him to move forward is the right thing to do, this is the song. For you." - - 2021-08-11 -Mohawk - Austin, Texas
  • “At least one of you, and probably more than a dozen of you are gonna find yourselves at a courthouse at some point. You’ll probably have the radio on loud on the way there trying to drown out some voices that have been bothering you for a year or two…three. We have a song for that occasion. This is that song. Some people think it’s a fun song, but you will know better” - 2022-04-28 - The Regent Theater - Los Angeles, CA

Things Referenced in this Song[]

  • The song bears similarities to the Carl Sandburg poem “Mag.” (Twitter)


  • "I hope you die, I hope we both die" is quoted in Invincible Iron Man #16 by Matt Fraction (2009).
  • In live performances, the last line is usually sung as "I hope we all die."

Live Shows this Song Was Played at[]

Videos of this Song[]