Morphine's Mark Sandman Finds Success But No 'Cure for Pain' -- Twisted Tales
Morpheus, as Mark Sandman liked to explain, is the god of dreams. The late songwriter's unique band, Morphine, got its start in an exotic Cambridge, Mass., nightclub called the Middle East, which featured belly-dancing. Its songs -- 'Cure for Pain,' 'A Head with Wings,' 'Like Swimming' -- were about entering netherworlds. The band name wasn't so much about its namesake drug as the allure of the dream state.
'Cure for Pain' is now the title of a new documentary about the band, which screens Friday, April 29, at Boston's Independent Film Festival. No doubt about it: Sandman's band was made for the movies.
Watch the Trailer for 'Cure for Pain'
The sparest of power trios -- just drums, sax and Sandman's Frankenstein bass guitars (one-, two- and three-string creations typically played with a slide) -- Morphine may well have been the oddest band to find success in the major-label feeding frenzy of the mid-'90s. The second act signed to the high-powered DreamWorks label, the group showcased its mysterious, pulp-literary story-songs in some very unusual settings -- on 'Beavis and Butt-head,' for instance.
A committed night-prowler who worked in blue-collar jobs -- cab driver, commercial fisherman -- before committing to music, Sandman got his start in the mid-'80s with the bluesy Boston garage band Treat Her Right. (The band, which recently reunited with a revamped lineup, licensed a song, 'Rhythm & Booze,' for 'The Hangover' soundtrack.)
Playing a three-string guitar, the former cabbie soon devised a two-string bass, eventually distilling his sound all the way down to a primitive one-string concoction he called the unitar. The distinctly slinky