Mark Linkous: You Are Worth Hundreds of Sparrows

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I’ve been listening to Sparklehorse’s “Good Morning Spider” on repeat for the last four hours or so.

Mark Linkous was obviously a troubled man. You could tell from the pained delivery in the fractured, delicate melodies of the few albums that he put out. You could tell from the world-weary tenderness in his voice, always pushed up front, always left naked and fragile and exposed. In the crackling understatedness of his four-chord compositions as well as his loftier songwriting accomplishments. Mark knew sad, and he could put you in his headspace with a few well-placed xylophone notes and his half-whispered words.

My first exposure to Sparklehorse came from Christina, who sent me an mp3 of a song of his called “Hundreds of Sparrows”. It’s a two-and-a-half minute love song in 4/4 time with guitar chimes and a double-tracked vocal track. Since the moment I first heard the song it became one of my favorite expressions of the fear and uncertainty of love. It’s been a song I’ve dedicated to more than one person. It’s one of the most significant songs in my entire life. It’s sublime.

To this day, “Good Morning Spider” is my favorite Sparklehorse record. I know a lot of people will point to “It’s a Wonderful Life” as his obvious masterpiece, and that is a fantastic album, but there’s something about the disjointed, fractured, wildly psychedelic yet fragile and beautiful songs in that album that gets to me. It’s anger and passion and confusion and fear.

When I found out about Mark’s passing earlier today, I was incredibly upset. I really did feel like I had lost a friend. For many years his music was a big part of my life. It was a resource I kept going back to. And I keep thinking how it’s so incredibly tragic that today, the world lost one of the most talented, imaginative and heartwrenching composers of our time, and most of them won’t even know.

there will come a time gigantic
waves will crush the junk that I have saved
when the moon explodes or floats away
I’ll lose the souvenirs I made
la la la

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