I've loved Mark Lanegan since I heard his 2004 album Bubblegum. The dark, grime-covered beauty of that album spoke to me in a big way, and became the soundtrack to the troubled state I was in at that time. After discovering Bubblegum I went back through his entire solo catalog, and he became a top artist for me--an iconic musical mastermind, a haunted poet. Lanegan is a relic from the Seattle scene, the last surviving godfather of that dark, mystical era of music that burst onto the radio in the 90s. Alice in Chains, Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden-that was my time, and those were my bands. Unfortunately a lot of it remains shrouded in mystery. But slowly, with new memoirs and biographies emerging, additional windows are opening to this iconic period in music, and Lanegan's new book is a crucial connective piece following Patty Schemel's Hit So Hard.
Sing Backwards and Weep is a raw, sad, painful, and often hilarious account of Mark Lanegan's time as a singer for Screaming Trees, detailing his difficult upbringing, his rise to fame, and his various interactions with other icons of the Seattle scene as they collectively battle substance abuse, each other, and general rock and roll debauchery. Lanegan holds nothing back here, and makes no excuses for his behavior. He tells it like it is, and if he's raw about something he doesn't hide it. Like dropping a lit cigarette in actor Matt Dillon's coat pocket simply because he hated the movie Singles, and for not getting a dime for the hit song on its soundtrack. There's a lot of hard truth here, and it's incredibly detailed and beautifully written. Hopefully he writes a second book detailing his later solo career. Highly recommended to those who grew up with grunge and alternative music as the soundtrack of their youth. It's still my favorite era of music, and these are still my favorite bands.