Bombed and Stretched, like Bubblegum
February 10, 2009 7:37 AM   Subscribe

Amidst The Ghosts Of Its Fallen Figures: With the 20th anniversary of the Seattle scene's insurgence fast approaching, Exclaim! follows the timeline of Mark Lanegan, the scene's poetic misfit.

During the grunge era, Lanegan fronted Screaming Trees - lost somewhere in the middle of the Seattle pack and mostly known for their contribution to the Singles soundtrack. In the wake of their breakup he became a sort of singer/poet-for-hire, recording tracks with Melissa Auf Der Mar, Mad Season. and Bomb The Bass, while maintaining an off-and-on membership in Queens of the Stone Age and a quietly growing solo career.

Despite predictions that he would follow Kurt Cobain and Layne Staley to become the next Seattle casualty, his recent duets with Isobel Cambell (of Belle & Sebastian) and Greg Dulli (of Afghan Whigs) hint at a new musical direction. More recent prophecies tell of Lanegan being the heir apparent to the Tom Waits dynasty.... or possibly just embarking on a magical journey with Eddie Vedder, Geddy Lee and Bjork; hard to tell.

(and, of course, no discussion of Screaming Trees members can go without a mention of drummer Barrett Martin, who also played in Mad Season, and now leads the epic instrumental group Tuatara)
posted by mannequito (21 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Great post. I love Mark Lanegan, especially his solo stuff (Bubblegum and Whiskey for the Holy Ghost are genius). I don't know if Mark is the next Tom Waits, though. Tom Waits has an adventuresome quality that Lanegan never really showed. Even that album of R&B covers (name escapes me) sounds pretty much like every other Lanegan album. :)
posted by CRM114 at 8:08 AM on February 10, 2009

Lanegan's version of "Where Did You Sleep Last Night" from The Winding Sheet beats Nirvana's for sheer creepitude. I remember lying in bed listening to it when I was 19 and thinking "This guy is actually going to hide me in the pines if he catches me".

I don't know that I'd equate him with Tom Waits (whom I consider to be one of the great songwriters of his time), but there are certainly some shining if not transcendent moments in Lanegan's body of work.
posted by padraigin at 8:21 AM on February 10, 2009

Wonderful post. I still play Buzz Factory on a regular basis.
posted by porn in the woods at 8:31 AM on February 10, 2009

I like both Lanegan and Waits, but any comparison is mostly about gravel and gravitas*, I think. Lanegan would need to put another 300 years on his tires before he's in Waits's world... and really, why do that when he's got his own road.

* Suggested greatest hits title. Go ahead, use it, no charge.
posted by rokusan at 8:36 AM on February 10, 2009

Hey! Gonna see him play tonight. Thanks for the timeline
posted by Kloryne at 9:12 AM on February 10, 2009

Twentieth anniversary?!?!

[checks odometer]

Guess so. Christ.

Despite the surprising reminder of my own mortality/decrepitness, I enjoyed this post. Thanks.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 9:23 AM on February 10, 2009

Sometimes the strong do not survive.
posted by pianomover at 9:32 AM on February 10, 2009

My favorite Mark L. recordings are with Soulsavers!! Yeah even better than WFTHG, which is still pretty great.

I interviewed him last year and asked him if he was going to work with Kanye West anytime soon. That was the only question that generated more than a grunt:

ML: God. There’s an opportunity for something really funny here but… [long pause]

Me: You want me to just say you’ve been working with Kanye West?
ML: [sardonic chuckle] No, man.

I love that dude.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 9:44 AM on February 10, 2009 [1 favorite]

I LOVE Mark Lanegan. Bubblegum lived in my car's CD player for years. I have Screaming Trees stuff from SST on cassette! Yes, I have it all in mp3s now, too, but can't bring myself to get rid of the physical tapes that hold so many amazing memories.

Bombed, for those who haven't heard it.
posted by peep at 10:07 AM on February 10, 2009

I do know this one cat from LA who has stopped dressing 80's and now looks kinda grunge. So... 90's are here
posted by MNDZ at 11:01 AM on February 10, 2009

WOW! Awesome. I had never heard of Mark Lanegan when I saw him open for Johnny Cash in Seattle in I think 1995. He was the opening act, playing his groovy folk music with a backing section of violin and cello. From the first note I really enjoyed his music, but my enthusiasm was not shared with most of the crowd who were impatient for the Man in Black to take the stage. At one quiet point in between songs, with tons of people filing in and out and very few paying close attention to Lanegan, some asshole yells out "Bring on Johnny". There was a low chuckle or two and another second of uncomfortable silence, and then Lanegan growls into the mic, "You know, I only do this every couple of years, so why don't you shut the fuck up or wait outside".

The crowd was much more respectful after that.

The next day I bought both "Whiskey for the Holy Ghost" and "The Winding Sheet". I have loved Lanegan since.
posted by vito90 at 11:19 AM on February 10, 2009 [1 favorite]

I love that Mad Season record.
posted by chillmost at 11:25 AM on February 10, 2009

chillmost, me too. There's some song that comes on the radio almost daily here, and the beginning sounds really similar to Long Gone Day. I'm so disappointed every time it's not Mad Season.
posted by peep at 11:39 AM on February 10, 2009

Having gotten into Lanegan's solo stuff (and by god that is a great discography, shame about the Gutter Twins and the Isobel Campbell albums though) years back, and Screaming Trees before that, I still feel bad that I never got to see him live. I did at least see him with QotSA on the Songs for the Deaf tour, which at least ticked off that phase, but I missed him on the Bubblegum tour after that.

I don't know whether it's a good or bad thing that every time I see a post about him all the comments are from people who are already fans. Does he just not win anyone else over? Or is he just so awesome only the people who matter care?

And ditto all the comments about not being able to compare him and Waits. Very different approaches, and voices, but I guess appeal to the same sort of folks.
posted by opsin at 2:39 PM on February 10, 2009

I saw Lanegan and Dulli as Twilight Singers (bonus, with Apollonia singing backup on a few tracks) a few years back and it made me hunt down Lanegan's stuff. Bubblegum is a great great record. Unfortunately I'm not too impressed by the Gutter Twins stuff. I'm hoping that Dulli didn't reach his apex at Blackberry Belle.

And about the Waits v. Lanegan thing, Lanegan never wrote a song about me.
posted by eyeballkid at 2:46 PM on February 10, 2009

The Winding Sheet's a keeper.
posted by 3.2.3 at 2:59 PM on February 10, 2009

People love Waits, and so do I. But, like cash, waits has less miles on him than the thousands that appear. The two of them are both among my favorite artists, but they both cultivate an image that is not entirely deserved. The trick is to enjoy their music for the voice it has, not the actual authenticity of the artist himself.
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 3:36 PM on February 10, 2009

Do you mean to tell me that Tom Waits actually isn't a former 1930s Guys-and-Dolls-style street hoodlum who became a schizophrenic shut-in that killed people in his basement?

posted by CRM114 at 3:59 PM on February 10, 2009 [1 favorite]

Next you'll tell me that David Bowie isn't actually a spaceman.
posted by CRM114 at 4:00 PM on February 10, 2009

opsin: I still feel bad that I never got to see him live.

For one scary second I thought I had somehow missed the fact that this was an obit thread. The man's still performing, FYI--he and Greg Dulli are playing the Showbox in Seattle on Sunday.

I don't know if you'd have to know my former coworker for this story to be funny or not, but at least it's short: after Bubblegum came out, I was rhapsodizing about Lanegan's seductive voice to a woman I worked with. She said, avoiding my eyes, "Once I went to a Screaming Trees show and I wore my very best panties. Just in case." I had never heard her refer to her sexuality before, and she never did again. That's just how much his voice discombobulates even otherwise prim women.

P.S. Remember, kids, you're only old if you're still tying buffalo-plaid flannel around your waist to reveal your waffle-weave thermal shirt.
posted by cirocco at 9:05 PM on February 10, 2009

I was just thinking on my way into work this morning while listening to Mark that he must be the only man alive that can make "Girl, who's your daddy" sound sexy to my ears. And occasionally he just makes me outright blush while listening. Plus, music that's beautiful & utterly terrifying at the same time. NOM.

Yep, totally love his stuff. /fangirl
posted by susanbeeswax at 12:06 AM on February 11, 2009

« Older A Gift from Canada   |   Tragedy of the anti-commons Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments