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A bombshell for grunge fans has been announced in these hours: Mark Lanegan helped Kurt Cobain write the lyrics of the song Something in the Way.
This is no small detail, especially for lovers of Nirvana on the one hand and Mark Lanegan on the other (lovers who are often dual, both for one and for the other).
Revealing that the late Screaming Trees leader was involved in the creation of Nirvana’s hit is Nick Oliveri, who was Lanegan’s bandmate in Queens of the Stone Age and the Mark Lanegan Band.
Olivieri affirms it publicly for the first time in a recently published book, entitled to the musician who died two years ago.
“Mark told me that he had written some of the text of Something in the Way with Kurt Cobain,” says Nick Oliveri in the bio lanegana text on the artist’s life edited by Greg Prato, former author of the volume Grunge Is Dead. “Kurt had played on some of Mark’s songs on the album The Winding Sheet. So rather than getting paid they said, ‘I helped you with the lyrics to one of your songs, you helped me with mine. Let’s make sure we’re even’”, says Olivieri in the biographical pages dedicated to his deceased friend and colleague.
The book lanegan it is built around the words of the various musicians who have been in some way close to the American singer-songwriter, with many unpublished stories of leading figures of the seven notes.
The biography was released on February 15th and recounts Lanegan’s musical exploits, between militancy in bands such as Screaming Trees and Queens of the Stone Age up to the solo road. The numerous collaborations that have brought this exceptional songwriter to work together with Isobel Campbell, Greg Dulli, UNKLE and Soulsavers, just to name a few, are also sifted through. Numerous interviews with colleagues, collaborators, friends and huge fans, including Soundgarden’s Kim Thayil, Charles R. Cross, Matt Pinfield, Charles Peterson and Screaming Trees’ Gary Lee Conner, enrich the text.
Among the many curiosities stands out the aforementioned story by Nick Oliveri about Something In The Way. Oliveri also spoke about how Lanegan was tormented by the idea of not signing the Nirvana track that closes the album Nevermind, as that album was a smash hit, as was that song. Yet Mark Lanegan hadn’t formalized anything, so no royalties for him regarding Something in the Way. Something anyone would have eaten their hands for, no question about it.
When Lanegan turned down an unreleased Nirvana song
Gary Lee Conner, Lanegan’s bandmate in the Screaming Trees, is also questioned in the book. This musician reports another anecdote that once again links Mark Lanegan to Cobain: Conner recalls the moment in which the widow of Nirvana frontman Courtney Love offered the Screaming Trees an unreleased track by the Seattle grunge group. It was a song from 1995 “or so”, reads the biography, and was called You Know You’re Right. After the initial excitement, the band led by Lanegan, however, decided not to proceed with the recording of the piece.
“We learned that from a tape Courtney gave us while Mark wasn’t there,” says the Screaming Trees guitarist. “When Mark got to singing, he wasn’t able to and he changed his mind. It would have been a big deal to release something from Nirvana in ’95 or ’96. That was the idea. But the feeling of capitalizing on Kurt’s death, I don’t know, maybe that’s what stopped us, but we could have used a little money back then,” continues Gary Lee Conner.
You Know You’re Right it was eventually released in 2002 as a posthumous single by Nirvana, included in the band’s anthology of the same name: Nirvana.
The death of Mark Lanegan a year ago (still without revelation of the cause)
Lanegan died at his home in Killarney, Ireland on the morning of February 22, 2022, aged 57. No cause of death has yet been revealed.
At the news of his untimely death, several of his colleagues paid tribute to him, such as Eddie Vedder, Iggy Pop, Moby, Scott Lucas, Simon Bonney, John Cale, Sleaford Mods, Badly Drawn Boy, Anton Newcombe, Peter Hook, Slash, Nick Cave and members of the Manic Street Preachers.
Even the residents of Killarney, described as a “close-knit community”, have expressed a sense of loss. An article that appeared on The Guardian and signed by British journalist Stevie Chick recalls Lanegan as “one of the most soulful singers of his generation”. In the US magazine varietymusic journalist Chris Morris described him as “passionate” and “adventurous”.