I have this amazing secret reference person, known only to me by email, a San Franciscan named Lisa who is a veritable treasure trove of Jeff Buckley information. She found me after my first Jeff Buckley post, and she has been a superstar ever since.
My friend Matthew, who runs the Don’t Need Anything blog, recently posted some intriguing-sounding Jeff Buckley songs without any information about what they were or where they came from. Since you know that I just finished reading that Jeff Buckley bio, I wanted to plug the songs into the timetable in my head and get more information.
So, this becomes a story of when Lisa met Matthew (sort of).
I forwarded Lisa the link to see what she knew. Of course, she replied in full glory. She writes:
To the absolute joy and amazement of many, some of these songs surfaced late this past winter. No one really knows their origin. The file that contained the tracks was entitled “Rarities From NYC.”
With the exception of “Forget Her” (which was most likely recorded during the Grace sessions), it’s believed that most of the tracks were recorded in New York City in early to mid â€˜96. I remember reading that Jeff had a bunch of cassettes that contained some of the music from his time with the boys in Sag Harbor, in late 95. But these were pretty much just shit they were purging from themselves after Grace.
Then there are the rehearsals and preliminary versions of songs for My Sweetheart the Drunk, recorded at Sorcerer in NYC in the summer of 96 with Tom Verlaine, pre-Parker Kindred (last drummer). Then there are some studio recordings with Verlaine after Parker joined on as well. It’s hard to pin them down because they aren’t mentioned in anything that’s been written about. One can only speculate.
We don’t know who is jamming with Jeff on “When The Levee Breaks” (which is a total joy to hear, considering Jeff’s love of Zeppelin), or on “We Could Be So Happy Baby” (which is fantastic to be able to hear an arrangement with a full band). I’m guessing this was recorded before his 4-track version from his solo sessions in Memphis that actually ends up on My Sweetheart the Drunk. It’s just lovely to hear him pulling the guys through some of these songs like when he sings out the chords: “Gimmie A,A,A,A,A…” in “When My Love Comes Down.”
I’m sure there’s a lot of music that Sony and the Estate are unaware of. Anyone who worked with Jeff during his recording lifetime is bound to have unreleased material. And you know how it is . . . music has a way of drifting around through fellow musicians, lovers, friends and acquaintances. It’s well known that Jeff made tapes for his bandmates and lovers. I met a guy here in SF that was friends with drummer Eric Eidel, who played and recorded with Jeff (between Matt’s exit and Parker’s entrance). He claimed to have those sessions on tape, which I believe are some of the Verlaine sessions.
There are a bunch of songs that are known of but haven’t surfaced yet. Some of them have twisted titles, such as “Dendrils of Death,” “Men on Drugs,” “Open Up and Bleed,” and “I Love Liquor.” Then there’s the infamous “Sky Blue Skin,” which (guitarist) Michael Tighe refers to as an important piece of music. And the hits keep coming — ha!
Anyway, hope that sheds a shred of light . . . Keep those Buckley posts coming. It’s wonderful that people are still excited to hear his work. You have to love the way the music inevitably finds its way into the hands of those who really desire to hear it. The best part is, no one can capitalize on it. It’s just all about the love of his music.
And yes, she writes that eloquently all the time. Flippin’ sweet.
When The Levee Breaks – Jeff Buckley
(Kansas Joe McCoy & Memphis Minnie cover, made popular by Led Zeppelin)
I Know We Could Be So Happy Baby – Jeff Buckley
Forget Her (alternate version) – Jeff Buckley
(I think this could have completely been a single, but Jeff disagreed with me and Sony on that one)