Mark Linkous

Mark Linkous, who died after shooting himself in the chest on Saturday at the age of 47, was a fragile and brilliant musician.

In 1995 he released his first album under the name Sparklehorse, called Vivadixiesubmarinetransmissionplot.

It is an astounding record, full of crackles, sparkles and some of the most heartbreaking yet life-affirming lyrics around.

It was said of John Lennon that his greatest gift was the simplicity of his words. Linkous was similarly able to capture the joy and horror of life in a few short lines.

Linkous had an enduringly unique imagination. His songs could be bizarre and fascinating, populated by horses, pianos, birds, teeth, metal hands and flying pigs.

But he could also paint vivid pictures of relationships, grief and hope.

Like Mark ‘E’ Everett of Eels, Linkous’ music gave the impression his life was littered with tragedy and depression, but that he was able to cope through writing songs like Sunshine, It’s a Wonderful Life or Happy Man.

In 1996, while supporting Radiohead on tour shortly after the release of Vivadixiesubmarinetransmissionplot, Linkous overdosed on alcohol and Valium in a London hotel room.

Rendered unconscious by the combination of drugs, he collapsed with his legs pinned beneath him, and remained in that position for almost fourteen hours.

The resulting potassium build-up caused his heart to stop for several minutes after his body was lifted up.

He was left wheelchair-bound for six months, and his legs never fully regained their original strength.

He wrote about his recovery in the song St. Mary, on 1999’s Good Morning Spider, and went on to release It’s a Wonderful Life in 2001 and Dreamt for Light Years in the Belly of a Mountain in 2006.

The music world has lost one of its most unsung and possibly misunderstood figures.

Saturday

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