He could have been the Jim Morrison of our time. Equipped with an unmistakable voice and charisma, Mark Lanegan rose with his band The Screaming Trees to one of the top bands of the grunge era in the early nineties. Only to plummet all the more. Drug addiction, homelessness and street crime were the result. But while many of his friends like Kurt Cobain didn’t survive the decade, Lanegan managed to return to the stage. (Source: Blurb: Heyne Hardcore/Amazon)

I got to know Mark Lanegan better through his later solo albums, especially through the 2012 album Blues Funeral and the song “Bleeding Muddy Water” on it. Sure, I already knew about the Screaming Trees in the 90s, but many of the grunge bands of that time passed me by, and I didn’t know anything about Lanegan personally. Only his late albums with their dark smoky sound screwed the artist Mark Lanegan into my brainwaves. So now an autobiography. There are a lot of biographies, of people who think they are so interesting that the whole world is interested in them, as well as of people who have something to say. The cover alone made the book interesting for me. Lanegan in a macho pose a la “come here and I’ll punch you in the face” stands there defiantly. Hardcover with 448 pages, so it’s quite a tome that feels full in the hand. Now let’s see what Mr. Lanegan has to say.

Already the first lines indicate a tough childhood and youth. With simple words and directly written, Mark Lanegan takes us on a journey. A journey that many people probably would not have survived. Brutal and direct, Lanegan tells of the rise and fall of a music obsessed singer in what was, at the time, the real wild west of the USA who just wanted to live out his dream. The rise of the grunge wave with all the familiar names and people, many of whom he was or still is friends with. But as the saying goes. After the rise comes the fall, and fall Mark Lanegan did. Very far down, in fact, as low as it gets. Lanegan describes his life, his experiences in the lowest of lows, in the clearest of terms. He’s left almost nothing out. All kinds of drugs, fraud and deceit, broken promises, assault, homelessness … all relentlessly exposed. Lanegan never really wanted to get out of this vicious cycle, the state was too nice when the drug level in his body was balanced high. He always had enough opportunities, but the addiction was stronger. The demon heroin kept the upper hand over his life. One after another fell victim to the devil’s drug, the suicide of his buddy Kurt Cobain, the legendary singer and guitarist of Nirvana is just a small piece of the puzzle that fits into the whole, terrifying picture. His life, his journey continued and inexorably in only one direction: down to the bottom. But it also means: you have to be at the bottom first to get back to the top. Just as the mythical bird Phoenix must first burn to rise again from its own ashes, Mark Lanegan succeeded in defeating the devil. Lanegan was at the bottom of the trough, any further would have meant his death, but Lanegan came back. He beat the devil. Clean for several years, the now 56-year-old lives in Los Angeles and makes better music than ever, in my opinion. His relentless song lyrics are also reflected in the honest hard lines of this book. With uncompromising words he describes all the darkness of this world. You don’t have to be a grunge aficionado, a Lanegan fan to read this book. Far too many musicians already walked this path through the bone mill of the music business, where all the countless pitfalls brought them down. The devil is just waiting to take them in with his remedies.

To some, Mark Lanegan’s words may serve as a warning, to others as an explanation of why things went so and so at the time. Honest and brutal, that’s the best way to describe this book. A relentlessly open confession, as I have rarely read before, which has rightly earned my full score.


Mark Lanegan – Alles Dunkel dieser Welt
Heyne Hardcore, 2021
448 pages
Hardcover: 24,00 €