Mark Sandman was a musician, a singer/songwriter, a poet, a visionary, and so much more. So when his untimely death came on July 3, 1999 at the age of 46 it was not only shocking, but a major loss for music.
“Morphine – Journey of Dreams” chronicles Sandman’s musical life starting at his time in the Boston blues rock band Treat Her Right. As Treat her Right started to tour and make a name for itself, Sandman would spend his down time jamming on other music with Treat Her Right’s guitar tech Dana Colley, who was a saxophone player. They brought in Jerome Deupree on drums and Sandman had himself a side band. Soon Treat Her Right fizzled out and Morphine was Sandman’s priority. He would play the two-string bass using a slide with Colley on baritone sax and Deupree on drums, the band had a remarkable low-end sound which no one else sounded like. The band released their debut ‘Good’ on local indie label Accurate in 1992 and once word got out, Rykodisc signed the band to a contract and reissued ‘Good’ in 1993. Soon Deupree left the band and was replaced by Billy Conway and Morphine went on to release four more albums, and toured the world playing clubs and festivals.
“Morphine – Journey of Dreams” follows their story with insights from the former band members, their tour manager, soundman, and manager recalling Sandman’s legacy, his passion for literature and his love for his girlfriend Sabine Hrechdakian. He was a bit of an enigma at times, but he knew what he believed in and stood by those beliefs for himself and the band. When their new label Steven Spielberg’s Dreamworks wanted to release a remix of one of the bands songs for radio to make it a surefire hit, Sandman declined because it didn’t represent Morphine. He would rather play two sold out nights in a small college town bar than play a big venue that was half full because he liked being closer to the fans.
This in-depth documentary directed and produced by Mark Shuman, is as compelling as it is heartbreaking, especially when band members choke back tears more than a decade after Sandman’s death. The iconic music is praised by such heavyweight fans as Henry Rollins, Joe Strummer and Steve Berlin of Los Lobos. Another touching moment is when Colley reads from his tour diaries at key points in the film as well as through his accompanying Polaroid pictures and Super 8 films.
Yes, “Morphine – Journey of Dreams” salutes this great band and pays homage to its fallen hero, but it is more than that. This is a love story. Love between the musicians, love between Sandman and his girlfriend, and love between Sandman and the fans.