[Landline] In love with the love that loves
When a musician who’s been important to me dies, I almost immediately bury myself in their music. Like most fans, I’m sure. Revisiting favorite songs, albums, music videos, live performances, TV interviews, and so on, to excess. It always brings me to weeping, and for whatever reason, that cathartic tear-letting usually helps me to at least start to accept the loss of someone I’ve usually never met who somehow has meant so much to me.
At some point this mourning becomes too much. I need to hear somebody else’s voice, but it seems almost disrespectful to the recently passed to say, Okay you’re not worth listening to any longer. I need a graceful exit so that things don’t get too morbid around here. What usually happens is I find a song, a video, whatever, that brings me joy — something so rich that I know I will never tire of it. It is good, it is there, I will remember it, I will return to it when appropriate. Basically, I guess, it functions like a burial place. And having established that, I give myself permission to move on.
My memorial for Prince is this staggering performance:
And my memorial for David Bowie is this goofiness:
Something about covers, impressions — artists in love with other artists’ work — is what does it for me. Perhaps it is a reflection of the way I am in love with their work — I adored you, you adored him… A chain of love and joy, across time…? I don’t know. But somehow this seems to be where I almost always end up. This is a kind of memorial that makes sense for me.
I found the same thing happening again over the past week as I listened to Mark Lanegan in the wake of his untimely death. Lanegan’s body of recorded work is huge, and though I’ve always considered myself a fan, it is only in the last week that I’ve begun to understand much he’d recorded in the last 15 years, most of which I’d barely heard, or never heard. I’d kept some tabs on him, knew he was busy all over the map, but I hadn’t felt the urgent pull to get caught up — I hadn’t even read his memoir. What can I say, it was all on the list but I hadn’t got there yet. So, during the last week’s mourning period, it hasn’t been just about revisiting Lanegan’s work — it’s been about visiting his recent (read: post-2008ish) work for the first time.
Frankly, the number of great Lanegan songs — and live performances — across his career is overwhelming, and I was struck by how he was still delivering right up ‘til the end. I compiled a youtube playlist of the Best Stuff but it started to stretch into the dozens, and I realized the project was, for present, for me, hopeless; I couldn’t narrow it down much, and the days were rolling by. (Others were doing the same thing, but they stuck with it — like Alec Hanley Bemis, who came to Lanegan late but got in very deep during the last two years. Alec has compiled an exhaustive, 100-track Lanegan survey you can access here. Thank you, Alec.)
That said, here are a few Lanegan pieces I kept returning to, in no particular order, that might function as memorials for you.
For the most loving, brotherly tribute from Lanegan’s friend Anthony Bourdain, from his “Parts Unknown” episode on Seattle:
For that late afternoon feeling:
For folk-gothic longing, a beautiful Chelsea Wolfe cover (wait for the mid-song lift):
For devastating, magnificent gospel joy:
And, finally, this gorgeous cover of an Irving Berlin lullaby, where Mark seems to be near tears. It’s a performance that I figure I will return to for the rest of my life:
Good night, Mark. Hope you reached the moon.
Love to everybody,
and solidarity with Ukraine,
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