“One fall morning over breakfast, [poet friend Larry] Beckett came over [to Tim Buckley's apartment] with his latest well-honed, slaved-over lyric . . . Guitar in-hand at the dining table, Tim looked at Beckett’s lyrics and pushed them away ‘like unwanted mail,’ Beckett remembers. After eating, Tim took his guitar, pulled Beckett’s poem back over, and out of nowhere began playing a melody that complemented the words.
The song, which owed a debt to Homer’s The Odyssey as well, was ‘Song To The Siren,’ a forlorn ode to unattainable love that used the call of a mythic siren as a chilling metaphor. Both its music and lyric captured the fatalistic Irish part of Tim’s soul.
Long afloat on shipless oceans,
I did all my best to smile
‘Til your singing eyes and fingers
Drew me loving to your isle
And you sang, ‘Sail to me, sail to me
Let me enfold you
Here I am, here I am
Waiting to hold you.
In late November, not long after it was written, Tim premiered the song at a taping of the final episode of the Monkee’s television series . . . Tim had befriended wool-hatted Monkee Michael Nesmith at the Troubadour’s hoot nights. ‘This is Tim Buckley,’ announced Monkee Micky Dolenz. With Beckett standing offstage, holding the lyrics in case his friend forgot them, Tim walked onto the set – an old car with a smashed windshield – and slumped atop the hood. Accompanied only by his crystalline twelve-string, he caressed the melody, his large brown afro slowly bobbing back and forth as he sang.”