Last week was the three-year anniversary of day Mark Linkous took his own life. He was the creative force behind Sparklehorse, an indie rock outfit that produced five beautiful albums from 1995 to 2009. He was a troubled individual with a knack for writing beautifully poignant songs that could be fragile and delicate or violently psychedelic, but always tinged with a deep-rooted sadness.
My heart sank when I read the news. I was a massive fan, and even though I’d never met him, I felt a strong connection with this person through his music (read my post about his work here). I was distraught, like I’d lost a longtime friend or family member. And in a certain way, I had– so many times I’d listened to a Sparklehorse record (especially “Good Morning Spider”) and thought to myself yes. yes. Absolutely. I know. It was that off-kilter understanding of the world, the appreciation for the small moments, the beauty in the bizarre. I felt like I’d lost an ally. Someone whose music resonated with me on a deeper level than some actual friendships could ever hope to do.
That same day, I was supposed to meet with a new friend, Sofia, for ice cream. I had met Sofia the week before, through a mutual friend who was staying at the same hostel she was in. Sofia was a total hardcore straight-edge chick from Pittsburgh, the type of person I have almost nothing in common with other than a shared appreciation for The Descendants. She’s an incredibly sweet and genuine person, and we hit it off and became quick friends. That day, I wasn’t feeling like the best company, but decided against blowing her off– it’d be good for me to get out of the house instead of staying in and wallowing in my misery.
I arrived at the ice cream shop, a disheveled sad sack, barely able to formulate coherent sentences. Sofia introduced me to her friend Amina. After a futile attempt at regular conversation, with my eyes glazing over and a total inability to maintain a steady train of thought, I confessed the reason I was so distraught. I told them that I was sad because this musician– this person I’d never met– had taken their own life. And then something huge happened: instead of rolling their eyes at this giant weirdo for being so sad about some rock musician’s passing, Sofia & Amina took it upon themselves to cheer me up. We spent the remainder of our time together that day making surreal crayon drawings based on Sparklehorse song titles. They didn’t have to do that. I’d just met Sofia that week, and Amina I didn’t even know at all. Yet, in their own way, they grieved with me, and that small act felt enormous and meaningful in that moment. We were ringing a bell out into the ether. We were waving goodbye.
This crude yet lovingly crafted piece of artwork hangs on my wall to this day. It serves as a tribute to Mark Linkous’s boundless imagination, and as a reminder that, however low I get, I can count on the outstanding people I’ve chosen as friends to lift me right back up. And that’s what it all comes down to: surround yourself with quality humans and it all becomes surmountable.
Thanks for that, Sofia and Amina. Rest in peace, Mark Linkous.[audio https://jorgefarah.files.wordpress.com/2013/03/10-little-fat-baby.mp3]