“I don’t really need to be remembered. I hope the music is remembered.”
When you review music you start to notice the patterns in influences of the artists you’re reviewing and over the years I’ve seen Jeff Buckley listed as an influence to artists as often as I’ve seen men who lived lives twice as long as his…Dylan, Taylor, Costello, Lennon, Springsteen…so often in fact that one would think he had a slew of hit records when in reality Grace was his only studio effort and there wasn’t a conventional “hit” to be found anywhere on the ten track release. Don’t misread that and take it to mean that it’s not phenomenal. It is that and so much more; it’s beautiful and brilliant and deserving of every accolade it has ever received. I love it. Now, anyway.
This is where I tell you that initially I was not a Buckley fan. This is where I explain that I was still basking in the glow of In Utero and Unplugged in New York and was very Ill Communication, The Downward Spiral, Swamp Ophelia, Vitalogy and Doggystyle during this time and so the goodness that is Grace somehow escaped my radar then. This is where I relay that my love affair with Jeff Buckley came too late…that not until the news of his passing destroyed his loyal fans everywhere did I seek his music out…not until then did I dive in and try to learn more about who he was and what he thought and believed. I realized that if that many people, fans and contemporaries alike, were that grief stricken about losing him I surely must have missed the boat. The beautiful thing about music is that it’s never too late to buy your ticket to the show.
The two words that always spring to mind first when someone mentions Jeff Buckley to me are talent and tragedy. I’m a firm believer that when it is your time to leave this place and move forward on your soul’s path that it’s your time…nothing can stop that. We leave when we’re meant to leave. But every time I listen to Jeff Buckley’s rendition of “Hallelujah” I can’t help but waiver in that belief. I can’t help but feel he had more left to do here…that the powers that be were somehow mistaken to have swallowed him in the Mississippi the way they did. They pulled him away from this world far too soon. I think I’ll always feel that way about his life and death but I take comfort in seeing him listed so often as an influence to people because it’s then that I realize he never really left. It’s then that I’m reminded that his is an inextinguishable flame that burns strong even today.
I also find solace in the posthumous releases we’ve been given…the latest being last week’s So Real: Songs From Jeff Buckley. His mother co-produced this collection that spans his all too short career letting us revisit the gems of Grace as well as giving us the previously unreleased cover of The Smith’s classic “I Know It’s Over” and the rare live acoustic version of “So Real”. This is the perfect beginner’s album for anyone who might be unfamiliar to Jeff’s work and a must have for those of us who are collectors. Word has it that the critically acclaimed and multi award winning documentary film Amazing Grace: Jeff Buckley is slated for DVD release sometime this fall after the original release date was pushed back for unspecified reasons. I think releasing it today would have been a nice tribute to Jeff and something great for fans but perhaps they are waiting to release it in November to commemorate what would have been his 41st birthday on the 17th. I’m anxious to finally own a copy and I highly recommend it.
Bono of U2 is quoted as saying that “Jeff Buckley was a pure drop in an ocean of noise.” And I can’t really imagine a better way of describing him. Jeff was not only a gifted musician; he was an extremely enlightened soul walking among the throngs of mediocre people who choose to live life in a head down, heart clogged, mind closed manner until the expire. You know the people I’m referring to…those who exist yet never truly live. Ever the brilliant and profound word smith, he shared not only his music but also his profound outlook on everything…ordinary and extraordinary…candidly and without apology or explanation. I desperately admire that in a person. Here are a few examples of that…some of my favorite quotes from him:
“The most audacious thing I could possibly state in this day and age is that life is worth living. It's worth being bashed against. It's worth getting scarred by. It's worth pouring yourself over every one of its hot coals.”
“Music is my mother...and my father...it is my work and my rest...my blood...my compass...my love.”
“Fear is an exit sign. Fear is just a door—either to transformation, or enlightenment to a tragic illusion you have.”
“Relentless, endless joy peaking into tears, resting in calmness, a simmering beauty. If you let yourself listen with the whole of yourself, you will have the pure feeling of flight while firmly rooted to the ground. Your soul can fly outward, stringed to your ribcage like a shimmering kite in the shape of an open hand. Be still and listen to the evidence of your own holiness.”
“Our suffering is peeling off and revealing a brand new skin, a new power. Love heals all wounds and not just time alone.”
A few interview snippets that I find both interesting and heartbreaking at the same time:
On favorite venues, playing gigs, songwriting and what he wanted people to take away from his music…
And last but not least his legacy...his life, the music.
Jeff Buckley – “Forget Her”
“Don't fool yourself, she was heartache from the moment that you met her.”
Jeff Buckley – “Lover, You Should’ve Come Over”
“It's never over…my kingdom for a kiss upon her shoulder.” "It's never over...she's a tear that hangs inside my soul forever."
Jeff Buckley – “Last Goodbye”
“Kiss me. Please kiss me. But kiss me out of desire, babe, and not consolation.”
Jeff Buckley – “Despite the Tears”
“And in his mind he knew he'd love her always…despite the tears.”
Jeff Buckley with Elizabeth Fraser - “All Flowers in Time Bend Towards the Sun”
“All flowers in time bend towards the sun. I know you say that there's no one for you but here is one, here is one... here is one.”
There have been many a tribute to the late, great Jeff Buckley but this is probably my favorite…
Duncan Sheik – “A Body Goes Down”
“Maybe he sang what he came here to sing.”