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Sing Backwards and Weep: A Memoir

4.23  ·  Rating details ·  2,186 ratings  ·  319 reviews
A gritty, gripping memoir by the singer Mark Lanegan (Screaming Trees, Queens of the Stone Age, Soulsavers), chronicling his years as a singer and drug addict in Seattle in the '80s and '90s.

"Mark Lanegan-primitive, brutal, and apocalyptic. What's not to love?"
-Nick Cave, author of The Sick Bag Song and The Death of Bunny Munro

When Mark Lanegan first arrived in Seattle in
Hardcover, 352 pages
Published April 28th 2020 by Hachette Books
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Average rating 4.23  · 
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 ·  2,186 ratings  ·  319 reviews

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May 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Dark, gritty, and brutally honest, this is one of the most eye-opening memoirs I’ve read.

Mark Lanegan is digging up some serious skeletons in his new memoir Sing Backwards and Weep. He spews it all, sharing parts of his childhood upbringing, the rise to fame with Screaming Trees, and his descent into drugs and homelessness. The truth is the truth, but I can see some people mentioned in this book becoming irate with the all-out divulging of the past.

In retrospect, this book is Mark’s hard knock
May 16, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: music, memoir
Mark Lanegan is an artist I've enjoyed seeing live and have loved the shit out of his solo records, yet I didn't know much about his personal background, other than the Screaming Trees and his friendships with Kurt Cobain and Josh Homme. Most rock memoirs are garbage but this one was everything Gritty, cathartic, bitchy and tender, my only complaint is that I'm left yearning to read about the next 20 years of his life, how he's staying clean, and his collaborations with what feels like just abou ...more
Matti Paasio
May 09, 2020 rated it liked it

I take no joy in stating this, being no stranger to addiction myself... and Mark Lanegan having been a hero of mine since 1992... a position he no longer occupies, for a couple of reasons.

(1) This book. What's the difference between Lanegan's memoir and the tabloids? I appreciate his honesty, I guess. But do we need to know absolutely EVERYTHING? The more you learn about the author's journey, the less you care... until his epiphany on the very final pages of the book. That was great!
Joe Kraus
Aug 28, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: memoir, music
In my after-college, semi-Bohemian days, my roommates and I used to be regulars at Chicago’s Lounge Ax. We’d be there for incredible shows in a room that held no more than 250 people, seeing shows sometimes with no more than 40 or 50 others.

If we were there early, the band would often be at the bar, and my roommate Bill had a knack for winding up next to semi-famous figures not saying much. Alex and Ray were better about initiating conversations. I was always the most star-struck, so when I jump
Andrew McMillen
May 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Towards the end of Mark Lanegan’s engrossing memoir is a series of scenes in which he shares space with Liam Gallagher, the singer of British rock act Oasis. It is September 1996 and Lanegan’s band, Screaming Trees, is supporting Oasis on an arena tour of the US east coast.

Oasis’s star is on the ascent while the Trees are on a slow descent into obscurity, and Gallagher’s very first interaction with his American counterpart is to take the piss out of Lanegan’s band name by spitting “howling branc
May 06, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was not an easy memoir to get through. I decided to listen to this as an audio book. I figured it would be great to hear Mark Lanegan's story in his own words. It might've been easier to read it as a book. His biography is grueling, to say the least.

I've been into the music of Screaming Trees for years. They were definitely my favorite Washington band of the 90s. I owned albums by Soundgarden, Pearl Jam, Nirvana, Alice In Chains, Mother Love Bone, etc--but Screaming Trees were the band that
Nov 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A funny and brutally-candid rock memoir classic to put alongside Neil Young's Waging Heavy Peace and Peter Hook's Unknown Pleasures/Substance, among others. Uncompromising, gruelling, harrowing and yet, finally, hopeful.


'One day in early April of ’94, I was lying on my tattered, cigarette-burned sofa, chain-smoking and watching stupid soap operas on TV with the sound off, when my phone rang. As was my normal routine, I let the answering machine pick it up and waited to see if whoever called wo
May 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook, read-again
Update 1/29/21: I just finished listening to the audiobook. I read the hard copy when it came out but I wanted to hear it read by Lanegan himself. I was struck again by how visceral a reaction Lanegan was able to evoke—I really felt like I was experiencing his agony while he read.

Wow. Lanegan did not spare himself in this memoir—he bared all and it was ugly. Felt like I was right there with him going through every harrowing bit. I adore his singing and am grateful I had the opportunity to delve
MacDara Conroy
Jun 18, 2020 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
When I first learned what this story of Mark Lanegan’s early years in music would entail, I couldn’t help but think of Bob Mould’s own autobiography, See A Little Light, and all of its recriminations and petty swipes at his ex-bandmates in Hüsker Dü. But at least I can understand Mould’s bitterness, if not accept or agree with it, because it comes from a place of passion — a band that he and his former musical compadres wanted to be in, music they wanted to make, and then life and its complicati ...more
Brian Joynt
May 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I’ve loved Mark Lanegan since I heard his 2004 album Bubblegum. The dark, grime-covered beauty of that album spoke to me in a big way, and became the soundtrack to the troubled state I was in at that time. After discovering Bubblegum I went back through his entire solo catalog, and he became a top artist for me--an iconic musical mastermind, a haunted poet. Lanegan is a relic from the Seattle scene, the last surviving godfather of that dark, mystical era of music that burst onto the radio in the ...more
Andrew Sztehlo
May 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
Regardless of your familiarity with Mark Lanegan this is a must read book. It’s both an entertaining history of the Screaming Trees, the beginnings of Mark Lanegans solo career, and an often hilarious personal journey through the Seattle music scene, AND a masterpiece of literary writing and an absolutely harrowing journey into the degradation of drug addiction. There were so many moments that were absolutely heartbreaking to read for me; as someone who has loved and looked up to and been inspir ...more
Felipe Schuermann
May 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A quasi-thug turned into a sensitive artist (or vice-versa), Lanegan's autobiography/memoirs are a more than captivating read!
The parts on Kurt's and Layne's deaths are beyond heart-rending and there's plenty of stuff in the book regarding their friendships that I didn't know (which are not necessarily sad).
Other than that, I just wish he'd knocked Liam Gallagher out cold back in 96! :P
May 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Raw, brutal honesty by my favorite singer-songwriter of his years of addiction. Five stars for the harrowing audiobook featuring his deep, gravelly-voiced narration.
Matt Suder
Jul 18, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, 2020
Dark, brutal, gross. Don’t do heroin, kids.
Jan 20, 2021 rated it did not like it
Shelves: memoirs, music-books
Preface: I'm a fan...a big fan...of Mark Lanegan's music. From the Screaming Trees, to his solo work, to the work with QOTSA, his duets with Isobel Campbell, the Gutter Twins, and one-offs like the Soulsavers, I have always bought and listened to his musical projects, and will continue to do so. That said: This book is absolute garbage.

Mark Lanegan hates everyone...and doesn't just hate them...he either fights them...often ending with him "beating the shit out of" whoever it is that looked at hi
Nicky Neko
May 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing
One of the best musician memoirs I've ever read. Up there with Julian Cope's Head-On/Repossessed. Insert all the clichés here: brutally honest, depraved, dark, tormented, insane. After reading this, I can safely say: being a heroin addict must be NO FUCKING JOKE. ...more
Kristīne Brence
Aug 11, 2021 rated it it was amazing
I was stunned how raw, non-sugar coated and bluntly honest the book was. Written as if your talking to him.
True emotional roller-coaster from the feelings of embarrassment, disgust, laughter and shock of how Mark Lanegan lived. We make our own decisions in life. That's for sure.

A contradiction on the expectations of how 'rockstars' live.
A story to identify how troubled childhood... What was put in from your parents... Bad or good... Manifests into adult lives.

Interesting how Mark described his
May 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Absolutely breathtaking

I have loved Mark Lanegan's music for years this book is hard to read at times but the honesty of its content makes it hard to put down it proves what you hear and what you see isn't always how true a persons real life really is. I can imagine that this memoir has been extremely difficult for Mark to write .
Fantastic read from a very talented man who's music I look forward to listening too I wish you well Mark and look forward to your new work in the future keep safe and
Apr 10, 2021 rated it really liked it
Sort of astounding this guy made it through his early life.......

Menno Pot
Jun 30, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: music
I was a huge Screaming Trees-fan in the early to mid-1990s. Mark Lanegan, frontman of the band, hated the Screaming Trees. That was just one of many shocks while I was reading this book.

I knew, at the time, that Mark Lanegan was a drug addict. You could easily tell he was destroying himself. When Kurt Cobain died many people felt the most likely Seattle rocker to go next was Mark Lanegan (even more likely than Alice in Chains' Layne Staley).

I knew all that, but nothing could have prepared me for
Marc Keymeulen
I must have seen Mark Lanegan perform at least 8 times, either as solo artist + band, or in association with Greg Dulli in The Twilight Singers and The Gutter Twins. Even shook his tattooed hand once, when he signed the vinyl I had just bought after the Brussels show on the Black Pudding tour (in a rather fancy culture temple in Brussels) together with Duke Harwood.
So of course I was curious to read his memoirs dealing with the first 33 years of his life.
It’s not a walk in the park, this book.
Elizabeth Desole
May 13, 2020 rated it liked it
I love the music of Mark Lanegan. And I wanted to love this book. I devoured the first half. I thought it was interesting in a voyeuristic way. My biggest impression though was “this guy is such an asshole”. In his defense, Lanegan fully owns up to this. Then came all the name dropping and professions of how much he loved this and that musician Although I was at first skeptical, I also realize that the Seattle music scene was small, and the dope addict Seattle musician scene was (somewhat) small ...more
Jan 03, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2021, music-bio

Come for the gnarly stories of the life of a junkie, stay for the score settling. Whether it's a petty beef against Mike Watt, settling scores with Al Jourgensen, or exposing Liam Gallagher as a first-class ass, Lanegan pulls no punches. The kind of book that had me cringing through Lanegan's howling hangovers and makes me grateful for every day of sobriety.
Brad Carl
Feb 13, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Wow. Just wow. Read this book and you will never touch another hard drug again. My only criticism is that there were times where he would intertwine two stories at the same time and it would get awfully confusing. But that's more about poor editing, not Lanegan's fault. This book was dark, disgusting, and real. I'm glad he is clean now and I hope he's making a fair living. Did I mention - wow. ...more
Apr 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Wow. I was completely blown away by this memoir (a genre I don't often read). This book chronicles the rise and fall of Screaming Trees singer, Mark Lanagan. I was drawn to this book because of a) I had never before heard of the Screaming Trees and b) I find redemption stories irresistible, true or not.

The publisher describes this book as "gritty, gripping, and unflinchingly raw". I couldn't have said it better myself. Mark Lanagan's drug addiction was portrayed in the truest and clearest of fa
Lel Budge
Apr 30, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sing Backwards And Weep is Mark Lanegan’s autobiography and it’s brutally honest and so fascinating.

It tells of his journey to success as a member of The Screaming Trees, in the 80’s and 90’s, and his fall into drug addiction. This is not a pity party, just a dark, honest and at times humourless tale of an extraordinary life.

I found this to be a fascinating, entertaining and compelling read, a look into the darker side of a life in the music industry.

Thank you to Bei at Midas PR for the opportun
Jun 27, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Time for a re-read!
That was off the charts. It's incredible that Lanegan survived the 80s and 90s - and for that matter even the 70s when he was a child - in order to be saved by Courtney Love (who he didn't like) and Duff McKagan (who he'd never even met). He doesn't pull any punches describing the depths he went to in his addiction, and the honesty is bracing. The delivery on audiobook was fairly deadpan, and occasionally it could have done with some more emphasis, but his voice is great to listen to and frankly ...more
Sep 06, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Despite having been forewarned by the lurid reviews of Mark Lanegan's memoir, it was, if anything, more shocking than I had expected in its devastatingly honest depiction of life as a chronic heroin addict. It also puts to bed once and for all the misapprehension that a relatively successful musician (Mark was singer with Screaming Trees) could afford the 'luxury' of 'dabbling' in illicit substances without sacrificing the basics in life such as food, rent etc. Lanegan's description of pawnshops ...more
Jul 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
If you want dirt on 90's era rock stars you've come to the right place

But be warned

This book is an uncompromising look at addiction and the damage to yourself and to others that comes with it.

It's an absolute must read.
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Mark Lanegan (born November 25, 1964 in Ellensburg, Washington) is an American rock musician and songwriter. Lanegan began his music career in the 1980s. In 1985, he became the vocalist for grunge group Screaming Trees; the group broke up in 2000. Lanegan would start a low-key solo career, but in 2004 Lanegan released his big breakthrough album Bubblegum. In addition to leading the The Gutter Twin ...more

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