Mark Linkous of Sparklehorse R.I.P.

by | Mar 28, 2010 | MUSIC

“I’m flying over the Northern territories of Canada, but I don’t see it as land, I see it as you would see a map…I don’t know what that means.”


“I’m flying over the Northern territories of Canada, but I don’t see it as land, I see it as you would see a map…I don’t know what that means.”

In a 2007 interview with radio station 89.3 The Current, Mark Linkous describes a recurring dream with characteristic simplicity and a soft-spoken smile. Both down to earth and other-worldly in nature, Linkous’ dream reflects the nature of its beholder; a quiet, thoughtful man with a deep, sensitive, yet optimistic outlook.

For those unaware, Mark Linkous was the front man and only permanent member of ethereal blues band Sparklehorse. A Virginia native with deep roots in Richmond, Linkous collaborated with some of the biggest names in the music industry, including Tom Waits, Radiohead, Frank Black, Wayne Coin, Danger Mouse and film-maker David Lynch. He died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound on March 6, 2010, in Knoxville Tennessee. He was 47 years old.

Born into a coal-mining family in Arlington, VA, Linkous was driven by a unique vision of the world, and an absolute necessity to create music. He spoke in a soft near-whisper, with the slightest hint of a Southern drawl, echoed in the haunting, melodic, tones of his singing. His music ranges from slow, atmospheric tunes characterized by rambling acoustic guitar, melancholy organ parts, and his signature whispery vocal style, to jagged-edged rock n’ roll, driven by steadily thumping bass-lines and fuzzy, over-driven guitar.

His most recent work was a collaborative effort with producer Danger Mouse, entitled “Danger Mouse and Sparklehorse Present: Dark Night of the Soul”, an album ripe with big name contributions, including Iggy Pop and Strokes front-man Julian Casablancas. Though available online since May 2009, the album may not be officially released in physical form due to disputes with record label EMI. The resounding theme of Dark Night of the Soul is alienation, weariness, and the subsequent yearning to push through the eponymous darkness that we all face.

A memorial service was held for Mark on March 20, 2010 at the Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens in Maymont Park. In attendance were Mark’s many friends and loved ones, including many of his former collaborators.

More important than who he knew, what level of fame he reached, or how he died, is that Mark was at least in part a product of our city; of Richmond, Virginia. He was a gifted and talented artist, and he shared his gift all over the world. He represented the grit, the realness, and the beauty of our community all over the world. If you are not familiar with his work, you should be, because what it really boils down to is that though a generation apart, he was one of us.

by Jonny Sismanis

R. Anthony Harris

R. Anthony Harris

I created Richmond, Virginia’s culture publication RVA Magazine and brought the first Richmond Mural Project to town. Designed the first brand for the Richmond’s First Fridays Artwalk and promoted the citywide “RVA” brand before the city adopted it as the official moniker. I threw a bunch of parties. Printed a lot of magazines. Met so many fantastic people in the process. Professional work: www.majormajor.me




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