First thing this morning, I learned the sad news that Mark Linkous had killed himself over the weekend. I was shocked in a way, only because his music has meant a lot to me over the years and it's always sad to hear news of this nature about someone who you felt you knew, if only through their records. But the other part of me wasn't as shocked, as anyone who is familiar with his history would understand.
Linkous recorded some of the most hauntingly beautiful music this writer has had the pleasure to hear under the name Sparklehorse. My introduction to him was his 2001 masterpiece "It's A Wonderful Life". As I digested the record, I was quick to pick up on a certain irony and cynicism in the title. It was such a moody album, perfect for a moody teenager such as myself back then.
What I learned (indirectly) from Mark was that it was OK to be a musical outcast. In artistic terms, you should do what you feel in your heart and hear in your head, no matter how complicated or fragmented it may seem to others. I also learned that if you have a strong vision or a very particular sense of a certain aesthetic, you should just go with it, even if it means going at it alone.
The time around 2001 and my introduction to Sparklehorse were my formative years as an artist. I was a curious listener, open to anything, and his music just made sense to me. It seemed very personal, so I wasn't too surprised to learn that for most of his output he had recorded every instrument, every little detail and all these tiny little nuances that only seemed to become more apparent with repeated listening. It wasn't surprising, but it was certainly very inspirational for me to do what I've been doing since. I think as an artist I owe a lot to Linkous and I know that I'm not alone in this.
I didn't know Mark Linkous personally, but he will be missed. Having said that, we've got all the great work that he did during his time on earth to hang on to. I'm sure it will continue to inspire new generations of young artists.
Thank you for the music Mr. Linkous. May you rest in peace.