Bradley's Almanac

[MP3s] In Memory of Mark Linkous: Sparklehorse in Boston

Posted on March 8, 2010 at 8:09 pm | No Comments

When I woke up too-early on Sunday morning, looking forward to another unseasonably warm late-winter day Boston day, I was nowhere near prepared for the news that Mark Linkous had taken his own life. Not that I’d ever be. The way we hear about these things nowadays has become so impersonal, so completely sterile, that we’re all left to process it pretty much on our own. Just a decade ago, we’d get a phone call, maybe an email from someone close to us, or even see a friend on the street who’d pass along the sad news… and we could share our loss in more than 140 characters. Now, text just shows up in our RSS reader or Tweetdeck window: “R.I.P. Mark Linkous” – a punch to the heart and a frantic clicking for confirmation. That can’t be true, can it? And somewhere far away, an anonymous stranger changes the Wikipedia entry from “Sparklehorse is a band led by…” to “Sparklehorse was a band led by…”.

Instantly, all his songs, and everything they mean to me, come rushing in. Even though I was relatively late to world of Sparklehorse, discovering him just before the brilliant “It’s A Wonderful Life” almost a decade ago, when I fell for Mark’s songs I fell pretty hard. I played that album incessantly, taking breaks only to listen to its two predecessors, and I felt so completely connected. That was the thing about so much of his work: There was an intimacy that, no matter who you were or when you found him, it felt like he was writing songs just for you. An easy quietness that carried so much emotional weight, warm production that found a rare, magical balance between a big studio and a tiny bedroom. It was grand and personal all at once.

Elliott Smith. Vic Chesnutt. And now Mark Linkous. True artists that contributed more to the beauty of the world than I, and most others, can ever hope to. Men who deeply enriched the lives of people they would never meet. Few of us can ever truly understand the pain that brought them to take their own lives, but I know I’m not alone in wishing I’d had a selfish moment to sit down with them and beg: “Please, please don’t leave us.” Please don’t make the world a lonelier, lesser place.

But it is today. All I can do is write a few words and share this Sparklehorse set from three years ago. It was the only time I got to see him play, after waiting such a long time, and despite my high expectations and Mark’s raging flu, I left satisfied. No, it’s not his best performance, but it was Sparklehorse. And for me, that was enough.


Live at The Paradise
in Boston, Mass.
on Monday, February 26th, 2007

01. Spirit Ditch
02. Heart Of Darkness
03. Apple Bed
04. Hammering The Cramps
05. Don’t Take My Sunshine Away
06. Tears On Fresh Fruit
07. Saturday
08. Eyepennies
09. It’s Not So Hard
10. Piano Fire
11. Painbirds
12. Sad & Beautiful World
13. Pig
14. encore break
15. Gold Days

Others do more to honor the memory of Mr. Linkous than I can: Buffalo Tom’s Bill Janovitz shared some beautiful words alongside his own cover of Sparklehorse’s “Gold Days. And Sunday morning, under the same dark cloud I was sitting under, Drew O’Doherty wrote and recorded an original titled “So Long. Life may be a little less wonderful today, but those tributes sure do help.


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  • About the ‘Nac

    This is Bradley's Almanac. I'm your host, Brad. Barely holding it together since February 2000.

    "I love this song. It's so true. I wish this song was a whole day long. Man, I would have the best day that day."
    - The Kids In The Hall
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