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Publisher's Summary

When Mark Lanegan first arrived in Seattle in the mid-1980s, he was just 'an arrogant, self-loathing redneck waster seeking transformation through rock 'n' roll'. Little did he know that within less than a decade, he would rise to fame as the front man of the Screaming Trees, then fall from grace as a low-level crack dealer and a homeless heroin addict, all the while watching some of his closest friends rocket to the forefront of popular music.  

In Sing Backwards and Weep, Lanegan takes listeners back to the sinister, needle-ridden streets of Seattle, to an alternative music scene that was simultaneously bursting with creativity and dripping with drugs. He tracks the tumultuous rise and fall of the Screaming Trees, from a brawling, acid-rock bar band to world-famous festival favourites that scored a hit number five single on Billboard's Alternative charts and landed a notorious performance on David Letterman, where Lanegan appeared sporting a fresh black eye from a brawl the night before. 

This audiobook also dives into Lanegan's personal struggles with addiction, culminating in homelessness, petty crime and the tragic deaths of his closest friends. From the back of the van to the front of the bar, from the hotel room to the emergency room, onstage, backstage and everywhere in between, Sing Backwards and Weep reveals the abrasive underlining beneath one of the most romanticised decades in rock history - from a survivor who lived to tell the tale.    

Gritty, gripping and unflinchingly raw, Sing Backwards and Weep is an audiobook about more than just an extraordinary singer who watched his dreams catch fire and incinerate the ground beneath his feet. Instead, it's about a man who learned how to drag himself from the wreckage, dust off the ashes and keep living and creating.

©2020 Mark Lanegan (P)2020 Orion Publishing Group

Critic Reviews

"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

What listeners say about Sing Backwards and Weep

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Devastatingly raw, honest and oddly inspiring

If only I could listen to Mark speak for 50 hours longer. An absolute masterpiece.

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Self sabotage at its best ..

Mark lived on the fringes of success, watching his friends rise and some sadly fall, but self sabotage due to substance abuse always kept him and his band from greatness. I was a big "grunge" fan, 13 years old when it went "viral" and Screaming Trees were so close to being a Nirvana, Alice in Chain or Pearl Jam to me but they just didn't quite make it. That's pretty much how it goes in this story. They get so close but when given the opportunity (which the band gets more than once) they somehow blow it.

Mark doesn't take nonsense from anybody and I like how he stands up for himself. He is an intense individual. I can only imagine his potential if he had gotten clean earlier.

The book is incredibly well written. At points you can almost feel his desperation, it almost gives you an anxious feeling. This guy was friends with and rubbed shoulders with the greats of 90s music, but ended up a crack and heroin dealer, eventually having to swallow his pride and ask for money from those he despised. This book will give you insights into what the human body can take.

His voice is deep and a little deadpan but it doesn't take away from the story. You can hear the wear and tear in his voice.

There is a darkness to Mark that you feel for a while after this book. It seemed to end too quick as there are more chapters in Marks life after the ending...

I thoroughly recommend this and it's up there if you love a good rock story...

Well done Mark. I will be sure to check out your albums.

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Harrowing and compelling all the way through

Mark isn’t afraid to bare his soul here and there are times when he doesn’t come off as the greatest guy but his honesty will hit you like a sledgehammer. It’s endearing, admirable and confessional in nature. These are the sins and achievements of one of the greatest singers of all time. The anecdotes of alt rock legends are worth the price of admission. Lesson learned, never lend Jerry Cantrell your porn.

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Harrowing stuff, great listen

I have always enjoyed Lanegan's unique vocal style and voice, but I had no idea he had lived such a wild life. Mark reads his own memoir incredibly well and takes you for a ride into his own personal hell, with many pleasant and interesting experiences punctuating his downward spiral. Not a book I'll forget about any time soon, highly recommended to music fans with a strong stomach.

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Mark Lanegan

Absolutely raw! brilliantly narrated from the one and only Mark Lanegan.
He had me in the palm of his hand from the prologue.
A beautifully written dark story with some moments are Jaw droopingly sad. also some fkn hilarious moments shared.
I’m hoping Lanegan does another book as the story seemed to end around 2008.
I loved the sound of his narration and would encourage ML to perhaps narrate other peoples audio books.
He has the most awesome tone in his voice singing and speaking.
What a treasured gift
5 Stars-loved it man.

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Good but not great

I was into it but towards the end I was getting over the junkie stories, would have been so much better with more focus on the music

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Drugs are for mugs

Wow what a story. How The Screaming Trees ever put out the music they did is astonishing. A confessional tale which I’m sure would have been brutal for Mark to look back on.

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Amazing

Someone gave me a copy of Bubblegum shortly after it was released and over the years I slowly absorbed the rest of his body of work. I always found his music comforting when the chips were down. I knew he had a messed up past but I never dug into it much, preferring to let him keep his mystique factor.

I am still shocked at the depth he was willing into about his past. I couldn't help but feel both repulsion and sympathy for him as he recounted his journey from small town America to the epicentre of the creative explosion that was the seattle music scene.

This was one of the first books I've listened to in a while that I absorbed almost in one go, I found myself doing a few extra laps of the block in my car so I could keep listening.

Highly recommended.

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Amazing read

After reading this book I realised I’ve lived a sheltered life . Amazing read really in your face .

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Should be the next Muppet movie

Really I just want to see Courtney Love played by Miss Piggy and Kermit play Kurt Cobain.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 19-05-2020

Chilling to the bone but addictive as dope

If there's one certainty in life, it's that only the voice of Mark Lanegan may narrate this dark dopesick memoir. A+++

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  • Mr. S. Burgess
  • 16-05-2020

Compelling and sad

As a fan of much of Mark's music, including Screaming Trees (Howling Branches!!) I listened to this soon after it came out. I wasn't sure what to expect. First observations - this is really well written, in fact I checked to see if ghost writers involved and apparently not. In addition, Mark's reverence for Blood Meridian makes a lot of sense in how he has set out the words - it has the spareness of Cormac McCarthy. Second observation - Mark voice is perfect for telling his story and he delivers a great performance. Third observation - it becomes quickly apparent that the book's focus is on Mark's increasing descent into addiction and this dominates the narrative. Fourth observation - the insights into aspects of the Seattle music scene and other troubled characters is fascinating and for many the sections covering Mark's friendship with Kurt Cobain will be more revealing than other works devoted to Kurt's life, including his final days. Fifth observation - Mark is brutally honest about his earlier musical output and as a fan of his music this was really interesting and chimed with my view: Trees records up to Sweet Oblivion are not great, Winding Sheet not great, Whiskey for the Holy Ghost stands out and marked an achievement which Mark remains proud of. Final observation - whilst there is a lot of self awareness and critical self analysis I found this jarred with Mark's ongoing grudges based on historic spats and fixation with physical dominance. Whilst I appreciate this may be his outlook its not something I warmed to and for such a personal experience kept pushing me away from his character.

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  • Esther Nagle
  • 13-05-2020

Brutally honest, painful, utterly compelling!

There aren't many books I've read or listened to that have held my attention so much that I finish them in a week!

But this one from Mark Lanegan is such a book.

Lanegan is an enigmatic character, and I always knew there was something damaged about him, but had never investigated his life enough to know more than love his songs.

But wow! I am so glad I listened to this.

I knew I'd love it as soon as I heard his rough, smoky voice melting into my ears. The story is non stop trauma, suffering, violence, depravity, pain and loss. It's a harrowing read, and for most of the almost 12 hours of listening, my near constant thought has been 'how the **** is he still alive to be telling this tale?/ If the massive amount of drugs he has consumed over his addict years didn't kill him, he surely should have died as a result of the crime and violence he was immersed in.

His frank honesty about what a scumbag he was, and his vulnerability in what he shares about himself makes the book absolutely compelling. It's not for the faint hearted, and definitely not for you if you are sensitive to swearing, but it's such a powerful read because of all that.

I've been mesmerised by it, and am 100% certain that he is going to be at the heart of my Spotify choices for a few weeks, as I explore his lyrics and how they relate to what I know understand about the man.

The last chapter brought tears to my eyes, not the first chapter to do so, but the first one that brought tears of happiness at knowing that he found his way through the chaos he lived in for so long.

If you are interested in him, the music scene he comes from, addiction and the mind of an addict, or have any interest in Adverse Childhood Experiences and what they can do to a person, this is a phenomenal book to get. Lanegan comes across as a deeply unpleasant character by his own brutally frank admission, but you can't help but empathise with him, because you know some of the things that shaped him. I'd highly recommend you get the Audible version of it so you can listen to Mark himself reading it to you. It's magical.

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  • Matthew
  • 12-05-2020

Hilarious, Harrowing, Heartbreaking

I had already bought my physical copy of this book and was excited to dive in. By chance I had a look on Audible and saw that, not only was it available here, Lanegan had read it himself. I had to spend a credit on that, and burned through it in a couple of days, listening with every spare minute. It was one of the best listening experiences I've ever had. Harrowing, heartbreaking, and hilarious in equal measures. Lanegan is a master storyteller, as well as a genius musician. It must've been incredibly hard for him to write and record this, but he's created yet another piece of dark art. I'm a lifelong fan of his music, but even if I'd never heard of him before, this book still would've been amongst my favourites. Thank you for everything big man!

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  • KalteStern
  • 15-01-2021

Bit of a misery memoir, inevitably

Having read a few rock star autobiographies in my time, including Noel Redding and Papa John Phillips, at one level this is just yet another reminder of the wretched pointless existence endured by users of heroin and cocaine in their downward spiral, albeit one that is self inflicted. Not that it ever seems to put off the rock'n'roll lifestyle. And as Tolstoy pointed out, happiness writes white and just does not show up on the page - very hard to pen a memoir only about your good times and expect anyone else to read it. And the author does not invite our pity or even sympathy in this unflinching account of his own wild years, which is pretty well written by the standards of these things. Which rather begs the question of why he felt the need to do it at all.
As someone who very much enjoys his later period music, after The Screaming Trees and his presumably successful rehab, I would have liked more about his own song writing and later music career, to offset all the anger, pain and suffering depicted here. But even as someone who has little tolerance for male machismo, I can spare a moment to regret that he did not finish giving the apelike Liam Gallagher the kick up the arse he so richly deserved.
Having it read by the author makes it more interesting, and his speaking voice is just as resonant as his singing one. Worth a listen if you are fan, but perhaps does not contain as many name dropping anecdotes about other grunge bands of the time as some would be hoping to find

2 people found this helpful

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  • Seamus
  • 14-08-2020

Quietly disturbing yet wonderful

Being a big fan of Mark's solo work I had already read and enjoyed the physical book. This audible version adds a level of depth and brutal honesty I missed when reading the book due to Mark's fantastic delivery and pace.

2 people found this helpful

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  • James
  • 23-06-2021

I don't think I'd like Mark Lanegan

But then I'm not sure this Mark Lanegan likes Mark Lanegan either.

It's definitely not a book about the music you've listened to, nor is it a riotous story of rock and roll excess with anecdotes.
It's a series of stories about his life, focussing on what he cared about, which was mainly scoring.
The odd tone that permeates is that whilst he is demonstrably successful (and clean) now - the telling of the stories don't feel like somebody looking back at their decisions with regret, humility or review. They're usually caveated/pre-empted with excuses - perceived slights, grudges, justifications which signpost he's about to describe another way he "was a dick" shortly afterwards.

It's odd. I'd expected either a self-hagiography or self-flagellation. This reads more like somebody reading out their diary entries - there's no introspection, No analysis. It's just.. well.. 'raw'

But I did like it.
It's well written and read - and honest.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Mr. D. W. Appleton
  • 16-08-2020

Brutally honest, intense and really funny

Having Lanegan read his own words makes this amazing story perfect. Couldn't stop listening irrespective of how dark and twisted it got. Mark's writing style is spot on - witty, succinct - he never lost ne at any point.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Frank
  • 03-05-2020

Enjoyed it

I dont have the patience to read any book ,Mark did a good job narrating this , I did enjoy it and could relate to alot of it. Honest book and an insight into some of my other musical influences, including Greg Sage . Good work Mark , hope he found time for the demo I gave him in Belfast near 20 years ago .

1 person found this helpful

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  • JM
  • 24-09-2021

Great listen

I saw screaming trees on that tour , now I know what I’d guessed at the time , due to how terrible Mark looked , amazing how he’s managed all he has 😵‍💫

Glad to say I saw Mark play couple years back looking very well and sounding superb

The trees and his solo work have really helped me over the years , amazing to consider all he was going through… the caged bird sings brightest

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  • anonymous
  • 13-08-2021

Mesmerising and brutally honest

A gut wrenching and heart breaking story of a lost soul. I highly recommend this audiobook. Mark Lanegan is truthfully reflecting on the first half of his life fuelled my sadness, anger and self destruction.

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