Deserter's Songs

Deserter's Songs is the fourth album by the rock band Mercury Rev, released in 1998. British music magazine NME awarded Deserter's Songs album of the year for 1998.

A 10th anniversary edition of the album was rumored to be released on March 5, 2007 (before the actual anniversary).

Track listing

All lyrics by Jonathan Donahue, except "Hudson Line" by Sean 'Grasshopper' Mackiowiak, and "Delta Sun Bottleneck Stomp" by Jimy Chambers. All music by Jonathan Donahue and Sean 'Grasshopper' Mackiowiak.

  1. "Holes" – 5:55
  2. "Tonite It Shows" – 3:40
  3. "Endlessly" – 4:25
  4. "I Collect Coins" – 1:27
  5. "Opus 40" – 5:10
  6. "Hudson Line" – 2:54
  7. "The Happy End (The Drunk Room)" – 2:06
  8. "Goddess on a Hiway" – 3:45
  9. "The Funny Bird" – 5:51
  10. "Pick Up If You're There" – 3:05
  11. "Delta Sun Bottleneck Stomp"
    Hidden track (untitled instrumental) – 6:17Japanese bonus tracks
  12. Silent track - 0:34
  13. "Ragtag" - 2:44

Deserter's Songs Bonus EP

Upon the album's release, a 6-track promo EP was issued, featuring covers recorded as B-sides from live recording sessions:

  1. "He Was a Friend of Mine" - 3:36
  2. "Motion Pictures" - 3:28
  3. "Silver Street" - 4:41
  4. "Philadelphia" - 3:07
  5. "I Only Have Eyes For You" (featuring Sean O'Hagan) - 4:22
  6. "Caroline Says Pt. II" - 3:33

Deserter's Songs: The Film

A special edition of the album was released in 2005 with a bonus DVD, featuring an album-length companion film to Deserter's Songs as well as two music videos (directed by Anton Corbijn) and an audio remix track:

  1. "Deserter's Songs: The Film" (44:39)
  2. "Opus 40" music video (3:36)
  3. "Goddess on a Hiway" music video (3:44)
  4. "Delta Sun Bottleneck Stomp" (The Chemical Brothers Remix) audio track (6:22)



Mercury Rev

  • Jonathan Donahue – vocals, acoustic guitar, chamberlain strings
  • Sean "Grasshopper" Mackiowiak – guitar reels, vocals on #6, woodwinds
  • Jimy Chambers – clavinet, harpsichord, drums
  • Dave Fridmann – piano, bass, mellotron, backing vocals
  • Suzanne Thorpe – flutes
  • Adam Snyder – B3, Mellotron, wurlitzer

Additional Musicians

  • Levon Helm - Drums on "Opus 40"
  • Garth Hudson - Tenor & alto sax on "Hudson Line"
  • Amy Helm & Marie Spinosa - Female vox and whistling
  • Mary Gavazzi Fridmann - Female soprano
  • Jeff Mercel - Drums
  • Joel Eckhouse - Bowed saw
  • Rachel Handman - Violins
  • Matt Jordan - Flugelhorns
  • Jim Burgess - Trombones
  • Aaron Hurwitz - Piano
  • Scott Petito - Upright electric bass
  • Garrett Uhlenbrock - Slide guitar


  • The success of this album was a pleasant surprise for the band. After the commercial failure of See You on the Other Side, which Donahue considered to be the band's best album, they decided to make one more record entirely for themselves, ignoring commercial influences, and expecting to split up shortly afterward. Surprisingly, Deserter's Songs was their most successful album, and made them big celebrities in the UK and Europe, also making a smaller mark in the US.
  • If one rewinds at the beginning of track 12, there is a hidden instrumental track. It is played on the Tettix Wave Accumulator, an instrument built by Donahue and Grasshopper. Reportedly, two versions of the instrument exist--one for recording that takes up half Grasshopper's basement, and a smaller one for the road.
  • Limited edition copies of the album came in a brown cardboard envelope-like package, with a stamp on the cover postmarked with the release date.
  • The song "Holes" was used in the film Panic starring William H. Macy and Neve Campbell.


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