A WORD FOR MARK LANEGAN

MARK LANEGAN PASSED AWAY. SOME WORDS AND A GIG REVIEW REVISITED

It’s all out of proportion. Mark Lanegan’s presence, I mean. There aren’t that many Lanegan albums in my collection but it feels like there are, and he’s been top of mind since the rock world dimmed on word of his passing on Tuesday 22nd February, 2022. My thoughts have been drawn his way more than they’ve been drawn towards other departeds, even some whose music I play a lot more.

Why?

Probably because he came across as … a person. A being. And a serious one too, not to mention flawed. Seemed to have the whole human experience baked into his voice. Deep smoked and lived-in. Potent and intense. You don’t need too much, a small dose carries far. It connects, even when you don’t know its owner.

Presence.

He’s always been there too, certainly for anyone who came of age in the early 90s and sucked up the alt-rock scene. He’s been with the bands that mattered. We see him as a Seattle name but it was the desert-scene players he stepped in with more often, orbiting their many satellite projects. Low key but bigger than a bit player. It’s almost like he needed a collective of like-minded spirits loose enough to attach to and detach from at will.

Here’s a Mark Lanegan Band gig review I wrote in 2017. At that time, Lanegan wasn’t someone whose albums I bought devoutly. Bubblegum was the last but the chance to see him sing just down the road was a no-brainer.

Re-reading the review, it chimes a lot more strongly with today’s news and mood than expected. His physical frailty was a shock. But so was his generosity, and this is what’s coming up time and again in fans’ comments and memories of the guy: his latter-years openness, if you can call it that.

Now he’s gone and we’re revisiting the music. With Animals, his 2018 release with Duke Garwood, made a real impact when listening to it again yesterday. Seriously beautiful. The fact that it took Mark’s death for me to cue it up is a brutal reminder that we need to pay more attention to our artists and their music. Slow the fuck down, listen better. Because I don’t know when I’d have next dug it out and it deserves better than that.

Presence. Something Mark Lanegan didn’t lack. I haven’t read his memoirs and don’t think I want to – Sing Backwards and Weep too grim? Devil in a Coma, maybe. But there will be more albums to pick up, selectively, in good time. His musical flow has many tributaries and none of us have paddled the same route.

Blues Funeral just finished. Press play again.