The Mountain Goats' John Darnielle explains what his 1995 song 'Cubs in Five' means to him now

Mountain Goat's singer John Darnielle.
(Image credit: Screenshot/Youtube/jmyers85)

The Chicago Cubs lost in a brutal 6-0 game against the Cleveland Indians on Tuesday night in Game 1 of the World Series. But if you're a glass-half-full kind of person, you might point out that a Cubs-in-five World Series is now a little bit closer to actually happening. If it were indeed to happen — be it in five or six or seven games — then the Cubs would have their first World Series win since a goat allegedly cursed them in 1945.

Incidentally, another "goat" has used a Cubs World Series win as an example of the impossible since he wrote the song "Cubs in Five" in 1995. Enter Mountain Goat's singer (and novelist) John Darnielle, who explained how he came to write the song, and what it means to him now, over at Slate:

[1995 is] a good time for baseball — there's a whole lot of characters and great stories, and the arrival of the superstations to the Southern California cable market means I can watch all the Cubs games I want. They're not good yet, but they have character. I'm at my mom's house watching a game while she's at work. Specifically, I'm on the couch strumming my cheap Korean nylon-strung 3/4–size guitar, and at some point, I reflect idly on an on-again, off-again relationship I've been having for the last several years that's given me a great deal of pleasure and at least as much pain. […]"Why don't you love me like you used to do?" ran a song on the outgoing answering machine of the person to whom the song was anonymously directed, at whom I was very angry on that day (for reasons lost to history), but with whom I could never stay angry for long, because that's how it is when you're a fan: You keep cheering, even when the circumstances might tell a less devoted partisan to seek out fairer pastures. You play nine innings. You keep hoping. [Slate]

Here's to hoping. Read the entire essay at Slate.

Subscribe to The Week

Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.


Sign up for The Week's Free Newsletters

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

Sign up

Continue reading for free

We hope you're enjoying The Week's refreshingly open-minded journalism.

Subscribed to The Week? Register your account with the same email as your subscription.

Jeva Lange

Jeva Lange was the executive editor at She formerly served as The Week's deputy editor and culture critic. She is also a contributor to Screen Slate, and her writing has appeared in The New York Daily News, The Awl, Vice, and Gothamist, among other publications. Jeva lives in New York City. Follow her on Twitter.