The road to death was long and by all accounts incredibly painful, but when the final moment came it was brutal in its finality. Mark Linkous, singer and songwriter with indie band Sparklehorse, shot himself through the heart on March 6. He was 47.
People who knew Mark have written about him beautifully (Andrew Dansby's piece on chron.com is heartbreaking). But for those of us who just knew his music, those exquisite, delicate, romantic tunes now take on a special quality that will forever be called haunting.
Mark Linkous is not the first musician to die at his own hand; he follows a long tradition. I once joked with a band manager that he should definitely sign one up and coming band because the lead singer had just be carted off - yet again - to the loony bin. Obviously incredibly talented, we agreed. Worth pursuing. But the dark romance of the anguished artist which inspires a deep yearning within us in our youth, takes on darker meaning as we get older - the torment of out of reach agony, the inability to ask for help and the sad realisation that often, the tortured soul can be the most monstrous and unlovable pain in the ass.
But oh Mark Linkous, Mark Linkous. Forever concerned that his musical ambitions were being thwarted or were wasted. Feeling as if his talent was not recognized, or that he was fooling himself. These are the concerns that could cause many artists to fall into deep funks. If you are inclined to clinical depression then the trauma of having so much to give combined with the demons in your head must - as it has in Mark's case - create more pain of the mind than a person cares to endure.
Mark Linkous wrote the kind of music that fans thought they owned. If you haven't heard any of Sparklehorse's albums, try them. He wrote like he knew you and you listen like you know him. His was the kind of talent that people felt good knowing about, as if being part of the Mark Linkous fan club was a special place inhabited by few, but those few just knew. You know, they just knew.
So RIP Mark Linkous. May your restless soul find peace, may your music live on. As you wrote yourself once, so wisely, the beautiful ones are always crazy.