I talked to Mark last week as he was headed to Belgium to rehearse.. he asked to read the last poems of mine that make up our second book, Year Zero: A World With No Flowers. He was optimistic and excited about his future plans and dreams. He wanted to come to LA soon and we talked about doing shows together in the fall, and how we would try to fit in some readings at bookstores we liked during the day. Talking with Mark was such a joy. Such a joy. That voice… His warmth and wisdom. I’m permanently uncomfortable, particularly with the phone, but could talk with Mark for hours. Just driving around LA talking to him in Ireland. He was humble like no other, complimentary and giving with advice. He came out of his Covid coma last year and texted to ask how I was doing. That’s how he was. We shared a similar sense of humor and could crack up in situations without having to say anything. His last solo show was in Las Vegas, and he asked me to sing with him. We spent the day of the festival in his hotel room, talking for hours, until he recommended that we practice the song ‘Playing Nero’. He played it from his phone, I came in on time, and he stopped it and said, “Ok, you got it” and we went back to talking. Never in a million years would I have imagined that would be the last song of the last concert he performed. It is nice to see so many media outlets acknowledge Mark, but also frustrating that he was such a gift to the world, and that his output over the last few years was surely some of his best work, that I only wish these people and places would have championed him in the present for the rare treasure that he was. You were in the presence of greatness. Real ones knew and that’s why his list of collaborators spans genre and expectation. He once told me the highlight of his musical life was when John Cale gave him a small approving head nod while he sang “All Tomorrow’s Parties” with him. I could always imagine Mark older, in a black suit, cigarette burning in a gold ash tray atop a black piano, singing to the world who loved him, touching us where it mattered most, deep in the sinking soul, for he had that rare key to unlock the cryptic sorrow inside and soothe us with his voice. He was a lifer, unaffected, walked the walk and had the guts to back it up off the stage. He was a poet who started writing poems later in life. Penned hundreds of beautiful lyrics, but the poems bound us, and I’m proud and thankful to have supported them. Prior to his move to Ireland we started recording interviews with people we admired for a podcast we planned to do and got a few done. I’ll try to get those out to you soon. We sound like teens, chainsmoking and giggling. He got me. I got him. That’s why I loved him.
He leaves us with so much and will live on.
Our thoughts and prayers are with his loving wife and his family whom he loved dearly.
I love you.