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Summary

The Sunday Times best seller.

From the back of the van to the front of the bar, from the hotel room to the emergency room, Mark Lanegan takes us back to the sinister, needle-ridden streets of Seattle, to an alternative music scene that was simultaneously bursting with creativity and saturated with drugs. He tracks the tumultuous rise and fall of Screaming Trees, from a brawling, acid-rock bar band to world-famous festival favourites with an enduring legacy, and tells of his own personal struggles with addiction, culminating in homelessness, petty crime, and the tragic deaths of his closest friends.

Gritty, gripping and unflinchingly raw, Sing Backwards and Weep is about a man who learned how to drag himself from the wreckage, dust off the ashes, and keep living and creating.

©2020 Mark Lanegan (P)2020 Orion Publishing Group

Critic reviews

"Mark Lanegan - primitive, brutal, and apocalyptic. What's not to love?" (Nick Cave, author of The Sick Bag Song and The Death of Bunny Munro

"A stoned cold classic." (Ian Rankin)

"Mark Lanegan writes like he sings, from the pained heart of a damaged soul with brutal honesty." (Bobby Gillespie)

What listeners say about Sing Backwards and Weep

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Compelling and sad

As a fan of much of Mark's music, including Screaming Trees (Howling Branches!!) I listened to this soon after it came out. I wasn't sure what to expect. First observations - this is really well written, in fact I checked to see if ghost writers involved and apparently not. In addition, Mark's reverence for Blood Meridian makes a lot of sense in how he has set out the words - it has the spareness of Cormac McCarthy. Second observation - Mark voice is perfect for telling his story and he delivers a great performance. Third observation - it becomes quickly apparent that the book's focus is on Mark's increasing descent into addiction and this dominates the narrative. Fourth observation - the insights into aspects of the Seattle music scene and other troubled characters is fascinating and for many the sections covering Mark's friendship with Kurt Cobain will be more revealing than other works devoted to Kurt's life, including his final days. Fifth observation - Mark is brutally honest about his earlier musical output and as a fan of his music this was really interesting and chimed with my view: Trees records up to Sweet Oblivion are not great, Winding Sheet not great, Whiskey for the Holy Ghost stands out and marked an achievement which Mark remains proud of. Final observation - whilst there is a lot of self awareness and critical self analysis I found this jarred with Mark's ongoing grudges based on historic spats and fixation with physical dominance. Whilst I appreciate this may be his outlook its not something I warmed to and for such a personal experience kept pushing me away from his character.

11 people found this helpful

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Brutally honest, painful, utterly compelling!

There aren't many books I've read or listened to that have held my attention so much that I finish them in a week!

But this one from Mark Lanegan is such a book.

Lanegan is an enigmatic character, and I always knew there was something damaged about him, but had never investigated his life enough to know more than love his songs.

But wow! I am so glad I listened to this.

I knew I'd love it as soon as I heard his rough, smoky voice melting into my ears. The story is non stop trauma, suffering, violence, depravity, pain and loss. It's a harrowing read, and for most of the almost 12 hours of listening, my near constant thought has been 'how the **** is he still alive to be telling this tale?/ If the massive amount of drugs he has consumed over his addict years didn't kill him, he surely should have died as a result of the crime and violence he was immersed in.

His frank honesty about what a scumbag he was, and his vulnerability in what he shares about himself makes the book absolutely compelling. It's not for the faint hearted, and definitely not for you if you are sensitive to swearing, but it's such a powerful read because of all that.

I've been mesmerised by it, and am 100% certain that he is going to be at the heart of my Spotify choices for a few weeks, as I explore his lyrics and how they relate to what I know understand about the man.

The last chapter brought tears to my eyes, not the first chapter to do so, but the first one that brought tears of happiness at knowing that he found his way through the chaos he lived in for so long.

If you are interested in him, the music scene he comes from, addiction and the mind of an addict, or have any interest in Adverse Childhood Experiences and what they can do to a person, this is a phenomenal book to get. Lanegan comes across as a deeply unpleasant character by his own brutally frank admission, but you can't help but empathise with him, because you know some of the things that shaped him. I'd highly recommend you get the Audible version of it so you can listen to Mark himself reading it to you. It's magical.

5 people found this helpful

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Hilarious, Harrowing, Heartbreaking

I had already bought my physical copy of this book and was excited to dive in. By chance I had a look on Audible and saw that, not only was it available here, Lanegan had read it himself. I had to spend a credit on that, and burned through it in a couple of days, listening with every spare minute. It was one of the best listening experiences I've ever had. Harrowing, heartbreaking, and hilarious in equal measures. Lanegan is a master storyteller, as well as a genius musician. It must've been incredibly hard for him to write and record this, but he's created yet another piece of dark art. I'm a lifelong fan of his music, but even if I'd never heard of him before, this book still would've been amongst my favourites. Thank you for everything big man!

3 people found this helpful

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Bit of a misery memoir, inevitably

Having read a few rock star autobiographies in my time, including Noel Redding and Papa John Phillips, at one level this is just yet another reminder of the wretched pointless existence endured by users of heroin and cocaine in their downward spiral, albeit one that is self inflicted. Not that it ever seems to put off the rock'n'roll lifestyle. And as Tolstoy pointed out, happiness writes white and just does not show up on the page - very hard to pen a memoir only about your good times and expect anyone else to read it. And the author does not invite our pity or even sympathy in this unflinching account of his own wild years, which is pretty well written by the standards of these things. Which rather begs the question of why he felt the need to do it at all.
As someone who very much enjoys his later period music, after The Screaming Trees and his presumably successful rehab, I would have liked more about his own song writing and later music career, to offset all the anger, pain and suffering depicted here. But even as someone who has little tolerance for male machismo, I can spare a moment to regret that he did not finish giving the apelike Liam Gallagher the kick up the arse he so richly deserved.
Having it read by the author makes it more interesting, and his speaking voice is just as resonant as his singing one. Worth a listen if you are fan, but perhaps does not contain as many name dropping anecdotes about other grunge bands of the time as some would be hoping to find

2 people found this helpful

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Quietly disturbing yet wonderful

Being a big fan of Mark's solo work I had already read and enjoyed the physical book. This audible version adds a level of depth and brutal honesty I missed when reading the book due to Mark's fantastic delivery and pace.

2 people found this helpful

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I don't think I'd like Mark Lanegan

But then I'm not sure this Mark Lanegan likes Mark Lanegan either.

It's definitely not a book about the music you've listened to, nor is it a riotous story of rock and roll excess with anecdotes.
It's a series of stories about his life, focussing on what he cared about, which was mainly scoring.
The odd tone that permeates is that whilst he is demonstrably successful (and clean) now - the telling of the stories don't feel like somebody looking back at their decisions with regret, humility or review. They're usually caveated/pre-empted with excuses - perceived slights, grudges, justifications which signpost he's about to describe another way he "was a dick" shortly afterwards.

It's odd. I'd expected either a self-hagiography or self-flagellation. This reads more like somebody reading out their diary entries - there's no introspection, No analysis. It's just.. well.. 'raw'

But I did like it.
It's well written and read - and honest.

1 person found this helpful

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Fantastic story

Fantastic story read by the man who lived and breathed it, not just a great singer and lyricist but an amazing story teller.

1 person found this helpful

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Brutally honest, intense and really funny

Having Lanegan read his own words makes this amazing story perfect. Couldn't stop listening irrespective of how dark and twisted it got. Mark's writing style is spot on - witty, succinct - he never lost ne at any point.

1 person found this helpful

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Enjoyed it

I dont have the patience to read any book ,Mark did a good job narrating this , I did enjoy it and could relate to alot of it. Honest book and an insight into some of my other musical influences, including Greg Sage . Good work Mark , hope he found time for the demo I gave him in Belfast near 20 years ago .

1 person found this helpful

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repetitive, dull and painful

I love mark's music and history of Seattle rock.... but this book, every damn chapter is just a repetitive drug tale without relent or respite. only at the final few words do we see redemption and like most people, I have my own issues in life, I need to be entertained not listed to the torment and depravity of an entire tome. shame because I enjoyed so many tiny snippets of this but not enough to recommend it.

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  • Utilisateur anonyme
  • 18-12-21

Another musician with a drug problem.

Confessional junkie stories get boring real quick. Lanegan’s disdain for most of The Screaming Trees music is insight.

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  • Utilisateur anonyme
  • 19-05-20

Chilling to the bone but addictive as dope

If there's one certainty in life, it's that only the voice of Mark Lanegan may narrate this dark dopesick memoir. A+++