The subject line of this mini-post is a comment someone just left on the Tim Buckley video I uploaded on YouTube a while back. In the great fashion-choice-era of the late Sixties, Tim’s wearing tight tan corduroys; I never noticed how hilarious that thought makes the performance of an otherwise dang purdy song:
And I ripped the audio awhile back for a pal — may as well share here too since this is an ace version (better than the album version) of a great song.
Tim Buckley performances DVD revealed A DVD featuring a collection of performances of Tim Buckley is set to be released in May. Featuring rare live performances from various television shows and interview footage spanning his career from 1967 to 1974, ‘My Fleeting House‘ also includes 11 songs and interviews with Lee Underwood, who was Buckley’s guitarist, and Larry Beckett, who co-wrote many of his songs.
Over the course of his career, Buckley (father of the late Jeff Buckley) incorporated jazz, psychedelia, funk, soul, and avant-garde rock into his sound. He died in 1975, aged 28, from a mixture of heroin and alcohol. ‘My Fleeting House’ will be released on May 15.
TRACKLISTING ‘No Man Can Find the War’ (from ‘Inside Pop’) ‘Happy Time’ (from ‘Late Night Line-Up’) ‘Morning Glory’ (from ‘Late Night Line-Up’) ‘Dolphins’ (from ‘The Old Grey Whistle Test’) ‘Song to the Siren’ (from ‘The Monkees Show’) ‘Who Do You Love’ (from ‘Greenwich Village’) ‘Happy Time’ (from Dutch TV) ‘Sing a Song for You’ (from Dutch TV) ‘Sally Go Round the Roses’ (from ‘Music Video Live’) ‘Blue Melody’ (from ‘Boboquivari’) ‘Venice Beach (Music Boats by the Bay)’ (from ‘Boboquivari’) ‘I Woke Up’ (from ‘The Show’) ‘Come Here Woman’ (from ‘The Show’) ‘Pleasant Street’ (from ‘the Christian Licorice Store’) ____________________________________________________
Well, that was intense. I just finished reading Dream Brother: The Lives & Music of Jeff & Tim Buckley this afternoon and I feel a bit more in love with the music, somewhat eviscerated by the sad details of untimely deaths, and pensive over all the history that I didn’t know. I highly recommend the book to fans of Jeff or Tim Buckley, or even to just your average music lover (which, clearly, you are, because you are here on my site).
The book seems about 20% thicker now that I am finished with it because of all the corners I folded down to mark a version of a song I wanted to look up, a location I wanted to Google (!), a piece of this familial musical history that I want to learn more about. I have several ideas for posts that spring from David Browne’s eloquently written prose along with some unreleased songs that I have which are worth sharing.
I came into the book as a Jeff Buckley fan. While I understand more now about the legacy his father left, I’ve not been able to personally get into Tim’s late-’60s/early-’70s experimental musical vision, in all of its many formats and versions. So the first personal connection that I have with the book comes when Jeff begins to unfold as a musician in his early stages.
Jeff’s true “introduction” to the music world, if you will, and the single appearance that created the buzz in New York which helped fuel his meteoric rise and signing by Sony Records, happened the night of April 26, 1991 (and is pictured at the top of this post). Janine Nichols had organized an annual musical benefit evening in the halls of the gothic-revival St. Ann’s Cathedral for the past several years as part of their “Arts at St. Ann’s” series. In 1991, one of the concerts to be offered was “Greetings From Tim Buckley,” in which mostly unknown local NYC musicians would perform versions of Tim’s work.
During Nichols’ concert research, she came across the name of his son, whom Tim had more or less abandoned when Jeff was just a baby. Jeff only met his father a few times and still had ambivalent feelings about being linked with him, so when Nichols called the 24-year-old Jeff to see if he would be interested in attending, he was unsure. But after some thought and discussion, he decided to come. “I always missed not going to [his] funeral,” Jeff said as part of his reasoning.
Although Jeff had attended the Musician’s Institute in Southern California and played in several punk/rock/experimental/goth/reggae bands throughout the L.A. area, he usually felt most comfortable behind a guitar and not in front of a microphone. Many of his friends from this period didn’t even know he could sing. When Jeff arrived in New York, the concert producers were still unsure if he would actually be performing in the tribute; they had listened to the demo tape he sent ahead and found it “noisy.”
But when Jeff took the stage that April night, the crowd (which was full of those who had known and worked with his father) was, by all accounts, completely blown away by the power and beauty of this vocal talent. As Browne (the other Browne) writes:
“After an instrumental interlude, a new group of musicians took the stage. One of them was a long-haired kid wearing a black t-shirt. Danny Fields, Tim’s onetime publicist, was in the audience, keeping an eye out for the supposed son. Though Jeff had his back to the audience as he tuned his guitar, the spotlight caught his profile and one cheekbone. ‘And I said, ‘Whoa–there he is,’ Field recalls. ‘I didn’t have to wonder too hard. It could take your breath away.’
Jeff, who had billed himself as Jeff Scott Buckley, began strumming rigorously as [Gary] Lucas surrounded him with waves of soaring-seagull guitar swoops. It was ‘I Never Asked To Be Your Mountain,’ Tim’s song to [ex-wife] Mary and her son [Jeff]. The audience suddenly stopped glancing at their watches. After an hour of esoteric music, here was one of Tim’s most recognizable songs, emanating from a very recognizable face and sung in a familiar (if slightly deeper) voice.
Halfway through the performance, a light behind the stage suddenly flashed on, throwing Jeff’s silhouette against the back wall; it was, as [concert promotor Hal] Willner says, ‘like Christ had arrived.’ (‘My God,’ Jeff said to a friend on the phone after the show, ‘I stepped onstage and they backlit it and it was like the fucking Second Coming.’)
Just before he went onstage, Jeff had finished writing his own verse for the song: ‘My love is the flower that lies among the graves,’ it began, ending with a plea to ‘spread my ash along the way.’ Anyone familiar with the subject matter of the song knew this performance was more than a faithful rendition of a ’60s oldie. It was a tribute, retort, and catharsis all in one, and as soon as Jeff left the stage, the audience was literally abuzz with chatter: So that was the son.”
Jeff came back to perform two other songs in the middle portion of the set, “Sefronia – The King’s Chain” and “Phantasmagoria in Two” with Gary Lucas accompanying him. For the finale however, Jeff took the stage once more, this time alone. After a nervous intro in which he talks about hearing his father sing this very song on a record player when he was only six (and comically, how he was bored), Jeff exhales and starts in with “Once I Was,” a wistful song his father may have written about his mother, Mary, and their fated love affair. Browne writes (and you can hear this in the recording):
“Suddenly, before the last chorus, a string broke on his acoustic guitar, and Jeff sang the lines, ‘Sometimes, I wonder for a while/Do you ever remember me?’ unaccompanied. If that weren’t dramatic enough, his voice spiralled up on the last word –’me’– like a thin plume of smoke, holding on for a moment before drifting up to the ceiling. He took a quick bow, said ‘thanks,’ and trotted offstage, and the concert ended. It would not have been a more perfect finale if he had planned it.
Backstage, he cried and accepted sundry congratulations and compliments, as well as a few business cards passed to him. He couldn’t believe he’d been allowed to sing so many songs, and was overwhelmed. Danny Fields brought him a note from Linda McCartney, and Jeff told him that her photo of Tim in Central Park was his favorite of his father.
Across the country, in the living room of her Orange County apartment, [Jeff's mother] Mary Guibert watched the clock, knowing when the concert would start and finish. She says she knew Tim was in the church listening, and in her mind was a mental picture of ‘this huge vortex of light forming over the cathderal. I knew this moment in time was going to change our lives forever — his life forever.’”
Here is the set that Jeff performed that night. I find it significant for the unveiling, the coming of age, the taking the stage that occured that night, and how it would transform Jeff’s life in the years to come. It is the first blip on the public radar of a voice that would change so many lives — maybe even including mine.
I had never actually heard Tim Buckley sing before I found this video, only read about him and seen his pictures. After seeing David Gray perform this amazing song a few weeks ago, I became driven to learn more about it and I found this video to be phenomenal. Probably what I found most interesting is how much Tim and Jeff obviously resemble each other physically, but that they sound so completely different in terms of voice. Where Jeff is dramatic and gorgeous and soaring, Tim is very straightforward Irish-folksy sounding to me. Here is the story behind it, from David Browne’s marvelous book I am reading, Dream Brother: The Lives and Music of Jeff & Tim Buckley:
“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.”
David Gray was amazing last night. My sister Kristy and I got to the lecture hall in the Denver Convention Center last night with our tickets in-hand. These were a birthday present from my sis last August, but then the show was canceled in October, so this was the rescheduled date. We walked in to the ushers, who ush us on our way, pointing to the front section. This was delightful, that they told us to keep moving closer. They keep ushing us forward ’til one blazered chap tells us that our seats are, indeed, in the FIRST ROW. Right in the center. Thank you Ticketmaster! I didn’t know Ticketmaster loved me so much. What a great late birthday present! I haven’t been in the first row of a huge show like that since Pearl Jam in 1995 in San Diego. We kept looking at each other and laughing in disbelief that we were so close!
David Gray absolutely gouges me; his beautiful playing on both piano and guitar, the way he pours his soul into he music (which you can really see up close – he feels it with his whole body), and that *voice,* both the lower register for the verses and then that sweet, affected, honest higher tenor for the emphasis and soaring parts. It was sheerly fabulous. I lack words (yet I keep trying).
And yep, that setlist includes both a Bob Dylan cover (One Too Many Mornings) AND a Tim Buckley cover immediately following (Song to the Siren, which was haunting in its ethereal beauty). I was in heaven. Ain’t No Love (read the lyrics on his site – gorgeous) and Lately were also both show-stopping, as well as one entitled Shine. And as many times as I’ve heard Please Forgive Me, it remains such an amazing song; it could be one of my top ten. I love the lyric, “feels like lightning runnin’ through my veins every time I look at you.”
I was really hoping for Say Hello, Wave Goodbye (possibly my favorite song he sings, although I was shocked – shocked! – recently to find out that it is a Soft Cell tune), but no such luck. It’s okay, I really couldn’t have absorbed any more.
By the way, these cell-phone pics are all I have to regale you with. Not the best quality, but kind of avant-garde artsy, no? I finally figured how to get them off my phone and it wasn’t as hard as I thought! They were just getting stuck in my spam filter.
*********************************** Oh, and speaking of good shows, if I were in the San Francisco Bay Area tonight, I would be tempted to head on out to Hotel Utah and enjoy me some Newcastle while partaking in a good show with two local band favorites. Santa Clara University’s own favorite good-time band The Otters are playing with 735 Institution at rad historic venue the Hotel Utah Saloon tonight at 9pm:
“Perhaps the most underrated SF institution, the Hotel Utah has outlasted DJ-bar mania, dive-bar revival and every other nightlife trend to hit the city. Since its doors opened in 1908, the hip factor has never been part of the Utah’s organic M.O. This classic saloon showcases 20th-century novelties like a walk-in wooden phone booth, old-fashioned, inner-lit streetlamps and hand-carved mahogany bar back. The Utah packs in a casual and virtually ageless crowd.”
It’s only $6, so if you are one of my readers from Santa Clara, Stanford, San Fran, Palo Alto, San Jose, Oakland, etc. etc. etc., head on over. The Otters are preparing a rockin’ little acoustic set with some original tunes, and I hear there may also be a sexy little number by the Rolling Stones thrown in the mix.
Name: Heather Browne Location: Colorado, originally by way of California Giving context to the torrent since 2005.
"I love the relationship that anyone has with music: because there's something in us that is beyond the reach of words, something that eludes and defies our best attempts to spit it out. It's the best part of us, probably, the richest and strangest part..."
—Nick Hornby, Songbook
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