On the morning of March 6, 2010, Mark Linkous woke up late inside the yellow two-story house on Irwin Street. The 47-year-old songwriter was finishing up a move from rural North Carolina to a spare bedroom at his bandmate Scott Minor’s place in Knoxville, Tennessee. He brought the essentials first—a sunburst Gibson guitar, brown Yamaha keyboard, an assortment of amps, some clothes—and planned to make one last trip to collect the rest of his belongings later that day.
The Sparklehorse founder, a composer of pop songs that whispered and roared through a sea of static, was on the verge of a new chapter in a life pocked with addiction, chronic pain, and depression. Hope stood on the horizon in the form of a forthcoming album, a supportive new label, and acclaimed collaborators backing up his genius. But a nagging woe still lingered: His relocation from the Blue Ridge Mountains signaled that his marriage was disintegrating, leaving the songwriter in an uncertain place without his partner of more than two decades by his side.