The New Cue #128 February 23: Lost In Music Special: Shaun Keaveny, Mark Lanegan's 10 Commandments
23 February, 2022
Good morning TNC crew,
We were very sad to hear about the passing of Mark Lanegan last night, a towering singer and mischievously charismatic presence in music ever since emerging as the frontman of Screaming Trees in the ‘80s. As anyone who read either of his two memoirs, he was whipsmart, eloquent and darkly hilarious and we thought it would be fitting to begin today’s edition with the 10 Commandments he did for Q and emailed to Niall back in 2019. The email was just titled ‘LANEGAN’, in bold. There’s some good rules for living in there, which makes sense, because Mark did a lot of living. RIP.
After the paywall, we’ve got a lovely chat with Shaun Keaveny, who looks back on an illustrious career in radio, tells us about his new podcast and how he felt when he left 6 Music. We’ll see you on Friday for our usual Recommender shenanigans.
Enjoy the edition,
Ted, Niall and Chris
Mark Lanegan’s 10 Commandments
Be yourself, it’s good to be different, a rebel, an outcast
Don’t ever let anyone give you shit because you don’t fit society’s idea of “normal” The false sense of security some get by joining the pack of lemmings who would all don ridiculous red baseball hats originally designed to keep a criminal politician’s terrible combover in place while he struts around in public, are somehow oblivious of the fact that they will be the first to get fucked over by these shitheads they support. Ignorance is at a place where next week a trip to the doctor ‘s office will get you a chest covered with leeches to fix what ails you. Kids, be brave, be smart and don’t buy into the shit you’re being shoveled. Know who you are and fearlessly follow your heart. If you are out of step with those around you, embrace it. Look how you want to look, love how and who you want to love, don’t take any shit, and watch your back. Protect yourself from those who would ridicule, bully or physically harm you for being different. Fuck them, they will have peaked by age 18 and then will sit in a well of misery for life unless by grace they get enlightened.
Give the gift of healing
If you can help one person not feel so alone, you’ve done a great thing. Music did that for me as a lonely kid.
Own or take care of an animal
There is nothing like the relationship between an animal and a human. The unconditional love received from a dog or cat, horse or more exotic animal, is like no other. I lived without animals in my life for several years due to my traveling but once it was a possibility, my house became quickly filled with a menagerie that became the centre of my world. The joy of a puppy tearing circles around the yard, so full of life and fire and the heartache as he grows to an old man and comes to the end of the line. The pain of saying goodbye, the gift of the time you had together and the infinite ways your life is enriched by these experiences.
Remain curious, keep learning, travel if possible and experience other countries and cultures
I grew up in a small farming/cattle ranching community and from my earliest memories, I wanted to leave. Through circumstance, drive, and a shit-ton of luck, I have been able to spend the last 35 years traveling for a living. I rarely return to my hometown and when I do, it is to see my sister and my youngest nephew, who still live there. My mother and her husband live there also, are in their 80’s, he pushing 90, and they are your typical old, white, xenophobic/racist people who met while working at the Hanford Nuclear plant. Before that my mother worked for the U.S. government in the bureau of migrant and Native American affairs. They then worked for Rockwell international, a huge conglomerate who built, among other things, intercontinental ballistic missiles. To my knowledge my mother has never been outside the United States, lives in a rural town, population 12,000 and yet is among the many people who thought it was a wise decision to vote for a man obviously illequipped to run a dishwasher much less a government, and the criminals who support him. I’m of the opinion that when people spend their life in a bubble it breeds fear. Much like Trump’s imaginary “crisis” on the southern border or the United States, the worldwide hysteria over immigration is driven by fear. The fear of old white people who have mainly never experienced anything outside their tiny insulated circle. I loved Tony Bourdain. He was an enthusiastic and loyal friend but was so important because he spent a huge part of his life casually traveling to many places the U.S. government and others vilified, embraced local culture and put a human face on those who the fear mongers would have us believe are evil. He was a prime example of what love, courage, empathy and compassion look like. Keep learning, keep loving
Everyday is a new beginning
Everyday is an opportunity to create a new future. Don’t forget to create your own reality. Know the difference between what you own and what someone else’s idea of you is. It’s none of my business what anyone else thinks of me if I know who I am.
Try to have a job you enjoy
Or at least one you can find some satisfaction in. Too many people spend the majority of their lives working a job they hate just to pay the bills. I have been blessed to do something I love for a living but it gets harder by the year for musicians as the cultural shift in how people get their music has driven many out of the business.
Have a moment for the less fortunate
Homelessness and poverty are at epic levels in the United States and elsewhere across the globe. Addiction, untreated mental illness, personal tragedy, downsizing businesses, estrangement from or loss of family and friends to turn to for help are some of the countless reasons people can find themselves in this predicament. So many families live paycheck to paycheck, so close to total disaster that an accident or illness without health insurance can have devastating consequences. Whenever I see a homeless person, I remember how close I am from such a situation and how my own experience with homelessness and addiction felt like endlessly climbing Everest-starting over everyday, and never reaching the summit. When someone hits you up for change at a red light don’t automatically assume it is for drugs, I’ve known many people who were simply trying to get enough change for a McDonald’s hamburger. The brutality of living out of doors, whether it be in the cold and rainy north, or the burning heat of Southern California, takes an unbelievable strength of physical and psychic willpower, god forbid by circumstance you ever find yourself there.
Look for music off the beaten path
I will never forget the music that changed my life. Where I grew up most people had no awareness of who Jimi Hendrix was, born just 100 miles away. My saving grace was a small, hole in the wall comic book/record store run by a hippy who had a curious for the new and weird. When he put on the 12-inch single of the Sex Pistol’s Anarchy In The UK, it changed my life forever. Later, The Gun Club, Joy Division, The Velvet Underground, Stooges, David Bowie and a hundred other artists continued my quest of discovery. It’s an obsession that has stayed with me to this day, and even though some of the artists I connected to became huge stars, most were not recognized until the bands had broken up, only to be hailed as genius later. Being a singer myself, into my 35th year of writing, recording and touring, I have never lost my youthful curiously for the new, exotic and interesting.
Get your hands in the dirt
In a time when the earth is being pillaged and raped to the point where 18.7 millions acres a year are being destroyed by deforestation and that breaks down to 27 football fields a minute, an area the size of Switzerland yearly .15% of all greenhouse gas emissions coming from deforestation, it is likely too late to turn back the clock on this planet ‘s destruction by the greed of men, but as an individual I try to plant as many trees, flowers, shrubs on my property as possible and there is something therapeutic and meditative about doing some small gesture that gives to the earth and takes my mind off the futility of my actions.
Have a sense of humour
In this age of technology and social media people like me who make music are privy to immediate criticism or praise, and are able to comment in return just as quickly. I admit being guilty of spending too much of my rare down-time taking shots at the low hanging fruit of the cliched descriptors, less-than-informed reviewers, and the speculators who seem to know the motivation and meaning behind every song lyric. I sometimes find it irresistible to play the curmudgeonly old vampire and show up with a surprise ball-buster at a super-fan’s feed on occasion as well. I’m probably the only guy out there who will find faux-fault when someone writes “It’s his greatest record ever!” Usually the ensuing brief internet conversation ends with me laughing and hopefully my target doing the same. On my birthday one year a music blog tweeted out one of my old band ‘Screaming Trees’ song as a tribute. I replied “Thanks. And btw for my next birthday you could choose something from one of my dozen solo releases, many tunes from which can be found on one of two box sets, two remix albums, countless full-length collaborations, or any other number of one-off non-Trees releases that number close to the hundreds.” They tweeted back “ Wow! Thanks for being such an informative one-man-human-google. We will keep that in mind.” A priceless come-back.
Lost In Music: Shaun Keaveny
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