Saturday, May 19, 2012

Musical Musings: Mark Lanegan "Down in the Dark" featuring Kurt Cobain

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You gotta love the Internet for its ability to humble you. No matter how much you think you know, it reminds you that you can’t ever know everything.

There was a record store at the far end of my hometown that became kind of a mecca to me when I was in Junior High and High School. They sold used CDs and records, but they also sold bootleg CDs, which even at a young age I was sort of cautious about.

My favorite band at the time was Nirvana and I had to have every song they ever did, so I bought at least four of their bootlegs. The one that I liked the most is called “Nirvana the Ultimate Collection vol. 1.” I thought it was the coolest thing ever. It had all these songs that weren’t on their albums, like “Even in His Youth,” and “Do You Love Me.”

While I was in High School suddenly “Marigold” was “discovered” my the local radio stations and they played it about 20 times a day for a month or two, I had it on my CD so it was old news to me.

But the song that this article is about is called “Down in the Dark,” but I didn’t know that’s what it was called until I started thinking about this article and did some research. You see on the back of my CD case it lists the track as “Unknown Demo” so the song had always been a mystery.

So I was going to write an article about the mystery Nirvana demo track, but as soon as I looked into this bootleg, I found a site devoted to Nirvana bootlegs and they taught me a lot about my prized bootleg CD. Here is their summation of the album, “Out of 23 tracks 15 are officially released. Not very promising for a commercial bootleg. This disc isn't even suitable for beginning collectors, filled with easy to get and not very exciting material.”  

I knew that some of the tracks were the B-Sides from Nirvana’s singles, but in my opinion buying one CD that has all the B-sides was easier than trying to find all the singles. And other than the singles there are 9 other CDs I would have had to track down in order to get all the songs that were conveniently found on my one CD. So I still disagree with the website’s assessment, but it did knock me down a few pegs and make me think.

But, the part that was most interesting was that the site revealed that, “20 and 21 are from Mark Lanegan's solo album "The Winding Sheet"” And that track 21 “‘Down In The Dark’ labeled as ‘Unknown Demo.’”

This was tremendous news! I mean I’ve been wondering about this for about 15 years.

It’s disappointing to learn that these two tracks aren’t Nirvana tracks. I thought “Down in the Dark” was interesting because it was such a departure from Kurt Cobain’s typical sound. The reason being, it wasn’t his sound! He was just guesting on Lanegan’s album.

Mark Lanegan was the lead singer of Screaming Trees and was the lead singer of Queens of the Stone Age for one album. And he’s done a number of solo albums and I’m just starting to explore his music. But, I’ve listened to his song “Down in the Dark” for 15 years and didn’t know he was responsible for it until now.


  1. Yeah, the internet is great. I used to love buying bootlegs. The first one I bought was Dylan's white album back in 1969 or 1970. I bought a number of Dylan bootlegs. Then I got into Springsteen and bought many of them, and finally I was into buying Patti Smith bootlegs. But after that I stopped.

  2. Bootlegs are like this strange netherworld to me, unless you do your research you never know what you're going to get. The Dylan one sounds interesting, I wonder how easy it is to find a copy of that today on CD.

  3. nice idea.. thanks for posting.