May of 1995 was the end of my sophomore year of high school down in San Jose, and while I studied on a Thursday afternoon for Mr. Pimentel’s science final or Señora Navarro’s Spanish class, somewhere not too far up 880 Jeff Buckley was tuning up his acoustic guitar for a solo midday set on the college campus of UC Berkeley.
Jeff had been touring in support of Grace for nearly a year, currently with Juliana Hatfield, and was preparing to leave for Scotland in a few weeks. He would play San Francisco’s beautiful old Great American Music Hall that night in a sold-out show.
According to David Browne’s excellent Dream Brother book, Jeff had just been named one of People Magazine’s “50 Most Beautiful People In The World” this month, and was “mortified.” Yet here Jeff is in fine, chatty form – his lightly joking, sometimes sardonic banter (imitating Scott Weiland, among other things) counterbalanced by the gorgeous weight of his songs, inducing chills even in the warm afternoon sun. Just listen to that intro to “Mojo Pin”; it’s near mystical.
I never did see Jeff live, but I delight in finding these recordings of shows that were happening all around me. I can listen to them now, and sorta, you know — pretend.
1 – Last Goodbye
2 – Lover You Should Have Come Over
3 – So Real
4 – Mojo Pin
5 – Grace
November 17th was his birthday — he would have been 43 tomorrow.
[Photo by Jan Richards]