Mark Lanegan Reveals How Much He Was Paid For Record With Kurt Cobain


Former Screaming Trees and Queens of the Stone Age singer Mark Lanegan discussed his first record The Winding Sheet in a new NME interview, which features a Leadbelly cover of “Where Did You Sleep Last Night” recorded with Nirvana members Kurt Cobain and Krist Novoselic.

Lanegan and Cobain were initially cooking up a half-baked plan to record an EP of Leadbelly covers together. Naturally, Sub Pop – the newborn label who had snapped up Nirvana for an initial outlay of just 600 bucks – were keen to put it out, but when it failed to materialise it was co-founder Poneman who rang Lanegan and asked if he wanted to make a solo record instead.

“I distinctly remember that the offer was for $13,000 for the first record,” says Lanegan.

He also said, “I had never picked up a guitar or anything, but I knew that the records we’d made were for a strict $1,000 budget. I thought I could make a record for a thousand dollars and pocket the other twelve.”

So Lanegan taught himself to write, and then wrote ‘The Winding Sheet’. He included the sole song salvaged from the ill-fated Leadbelly sessions: a version of ‘Where Did You Sleep Last Night?’, featuring both Cobain and Krist Novoselic. The album was a departure for both Lanegan and Sub Pop, but it turned into a success that would heavily influence the sound of Nirvana’s own famous MTV Unplugged performance. This story illustrates two important facts about Sub Pop: They were willing to gamble, but they knew their shit.