Great Reading: Sing Backwards & Weep by Mark Lanegan

Oh my god, this is the greatest autobio book I’ve read in a very longtime! So when finding his top 11 albums and re-posting on my blog last month, linked here. I did say that it was the best music autobio book published last year or my fave book of 2020 I read. So here’s a blog post a little about it and in my opinion really is a must read, if you love 90’s music!

I miss getting the hardcover but finally got a copy as a paperback, when ever that was which must have been around mid-year or a bit later? I think, to start I have to say the main thing is Lanegan he really doesn’t mind coming across as an asshole/dickhead or whatever else you what to call him? Some autobios I’ve read in the past go there a little bit but always want to still be cool or something? Never really crossed the line even if they’re drugs/drink but with his whole-hearted junkie drug fuel madness in totally explicit painful details, it doesn’t really sound very cool at all. His growing up sounds like some kind-of white trailer trash in the middle of nowhere America with his mom sounding like some kind-of the devil or something? On tour run-ins or feuds with way more famous rock stars who are just dickheads in famous bands, he just doesn’t give a flying fuck who they’re because well, he’s up to his eye balls on heroin! Ripping the shit out of his own band mates too for acting like fuckheads too, no one is left out of his brutally honesty telling.

Then losing a couple of his best mates Kurt Corbin and Layne Staley is so very, very raw and to the very same drug hell as his. Plus at the middle of grunge huge epic successful scene somehow Lanegan is homeless, wanted by every drug related idiot in Seattle like the both the dealers and cops alike. In the end of it, it’s unbelievable Courtney Love he gives kind-of credited to saving his life tooo! I’m summing it all up very quickly here because it’s 332 pages long. They’re no gross photos or anything alike but I do wish they would put index in books like this but that’s wishful thinking, I guess?

Because it’s a music blog I’m embedding some his music now for me to enjoy while doing this post and maybe, for you to press play too? Screaming Tree debut album Clairvoyance of 1986 I’ve selected Strange Out Here because Mark is also playing violin on it too, you can kind-of hear it if listen really closely:

Signing to well-known punk label SST in 1987 for second album Even If and Especially When, I’m picking Other Days And Different Planets:

Invisible Lantern was the third studio album in 1988 and here’s closing track Night Comes Creeping:

Buzz Factory was the fourth studio album by STT in 1989, it’s Black Sun Morning:

Change Has Come EP was released in 1990 by Sub Pop, here’s the title track:

In 1990 The Winding Sheet was his debut solo studio for Sub Pop label, picking Wild Flowers:

Uncle Anesthesia was the fifth studio album plus major label debut so here’s Ocean of Confusion:

Sweet Oblivion is their sixth studio album in 1992, here’s the well-known video clip to Nearly Lost You:

Whiskey for the Holy Ghost was his second solo album is 1994 and listen to Carnival:

Layne Staley’s side-project Mad Season released album entitled Above in 1995, got to be Long Gone Day:

Dust is Screaming Trees’ seventh and final studio album in 1996, it’s Traveler:

Scraps at Midnight was his third solo album was in 1998, choosing Bell Black Ocean:

The first Josh Homme and Lanegan collaboration for the Rated R album by Queens of the Stone Age in 2000 called In the Fade:

Field Songs was the fifth solo album in 2001 after cover album in 1999 which I’ve skipped that, here’s Pill Hill Serenade:

Queens of the Stone Age next album was Songs for the Deaf, their third album in 2002 with even more ML on it, I’m picking Song for the Dead:

Bubblegum was his 2004 album first to be credited to the Mark Lanegan Band, picking Strange Religion, co-staring Guns N’ Roses’ Izzy Stradlin and Duff McKagan:

Revolver was ML’s sole songwriting contribute to Ballad of the Broken Seas album by Isobel Campbell & Mark Lanegan, their first collaboration in 2006:

Blues Funeral is his seventh studio album in 2012 credited to the ML Band, going with Ode to Sad Disco:

Black Pudding was first studio collaborative album by Mark Lanegan & Duke Garwood in 2013, here’s Cold Molly:

After another cover album in 2013, then come both No Bells On Sunday EP and Phantom Radio album in 2014 both “Band” releases, picking Sad Lover:

Gargoyle is his tenth solo studio album, another one for the “Band” and got to be Beehive:

Somebody’s Knocking is the eleventh studio in 2019 was credited again to Mark Lanegan Band, here’s Playing Nero:

Straight Songs of Sorrow album was his last one released last year but released just this month, he contributed to the song Inside Of A Dream on Cult Of Luna’s The Raging River EP:

OK, so it’s just turn into me looking up a whole pile of songs I just what to listen, does anyone else want a listen? So get back to his actually book, here’s some highlights or maybe could be more lowlights really? Forming Screaming Tree which was in mid-80’s when they first started, you know? The brothers Van and Lee Conner sound like crazy characters to say the least but he could hear the possibility of the demos that where just being made in a bedroom. Then also only a very short time together, it was impossible working with the main songwriter Van. In an interview ML did for promo I read after this was published, he was saying he was trying to get a hold of him but after calling 20 times he gave-up but since then Van has totally dismissed ML book in a facebook post, off course he’s only read a few pages of this book. I guess, Mark is as a hash critic as you could find, sometimes or a lot of the time because he’s totally ridiculing Screaming Trees music plus himself too. Nearly Lost You is their biggest song, came after ML leave them again which seems to happen more than a few times by the sound of it but he agreed to rejoined them yet again. So ML listening the latest demo of Van’s, he’s playing the song’s main riff over and over and just screaming in background over and over “Nearly Lost You” then Mark wrote some more words and they finally they made a hit single. Being offer his solo albums deal was a bit of light at the dark tunnel after a while being in that band. He totally “hates” the front of his debut album so much which that image was hand picked by the Sub Pop label boss, Mark disagreed with him so they say would use another photo but when it comes out it’s still got that photo he hated on the front cover!

On page 44 Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds first four albums are named as huge influence along with a whole pile of other artists he’s talking about but I’ve got to take note of anything NC, you know? When Cave comes to town in the mid-90’s so skipping ahead to page 180 Lanegan meets Cave because he wants some heroin while touring, Nick was so impressed with Mark’s arms track marks so to quote: “As I sat at my own dining table trying to locate a vein… Cave looked down at my arms…”Damn,” he said, “I guess you can’t just pop into the can for a quick hit?” Just image what a mess his arms would be if one junkie says that to another? I really enjoy the bit above the Aussie Big Day Out tour of 1995 because I remember seeing the Screaming Tree back then. My own POV of that was, it on a Sunday when it get here in Perth or it was down in Freo. I also remember I’d been drinking hard all weekend and had by then a very bad hangover which I was try to fix it with even more beer! It seems at the same time Mark was stealing heroin from headlining band Ministry’s Al Jourgensen. Trying to score drugs as a member of international touring band sounds totally bonkers to me, to say the least. ML has it seems hundreds of stories about it, one of the more funny story here in the book but maybe not at the time, is when Josh Homme joins the Screaming Trees as a second guitarist. Then Josh goes with ML just one time to score. Everyone, well a lot knows will know who and what Josh looks like but this was back in the 90’s, he was even more fresh faced and clear cut looking. So all the dealers just thinking he was a bloody cop so didn’t sell any drugs to them and even by the end of the night wanted to kill both of them. Unbelievable, to even think Corbin really wanted Lanegan be guest singer on Nirvana’s Unplugged Where Did You Sleep Last Night, which I can’t image even if they do a version together on that ML solo debut album.

I could go on with bits of it but please just read the book yourself, if any of this sounds great to you? If you haven’t yet? It’s highly enjoyable in a totally most brutal honest memoir book ever, from one of the last standing front men of Seattle’s grunge movement! Also ML is publishing a book of his poems coming next month, linking it here if you want to check that out too?

The front cover looks like this!

Cheers! 🙂



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