Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Best Band Ever*

(*- according to me, at this second; subject to change without notice)
Jeff Buckley is the Best Musician Ever. Or as we have just past the 10th anniversary of his death, sadly he was the Best. But there is no musician that I have ever known, or experienced that touches me as deeply as he does. One listen and you're changed forever.
I remember first hearing Jeff around 94 or 95 through a video on MTV. I didn't remember it for a couple of years but then, I guess when I discovered what I thought was love and heartbreak, the line "kiss me please kiss me" kept resurfacing in my head. I didn't know the name of the artist but I remembered the video and thought that was the name of the song. I don't remember how exactly I got the right name, whether it was by searching the Internet or if miraculously the video had resurfaced but in 2000 I found out it was Jeff Buckley's "Last Goodbye"

Even with its obviously dated flannel and early 90's look you can still sense something more.
I was 17 at this point and really going through some emotional stuff (cuz y'know that ended after i got my high school diploma) so I went out and bought his one studio album Grace. 10 songs, 10 songs of pure brillance. So ethereal, so ephemeral, so eternal. Just Perfect. Ah! there are not enough positive attributes or adjectives to describe it though many have tried. I think I may have listened to it exclusively for 6 months and even now when i play it I have to listen to the whole thing and I just float away. Each time I listen a song say something new to me and becomes one that i just can't skip past.
At first Last Goodbye was my favorite song, then I discovered Grace.

Hallelujah (the definitive version, with all due respect to Mr. Cohen) become my next love adn still holds a truly special place in my heart. During AmeriCorps when we were working at Double H, each week before another session started I would listen to Hallelujah just to spirtiually cleanse myself and make myself ready for the coming week and all the joy and trouble it could bring. It is still one of the songs I listen to as each old year becomes new again. Lover You Should Have Come Over and every time I think of it I just picture myself in a flat in the French Quarter, his words evoking such a perfect romantic and beautiful place that I wish I could be that in love just once. Finally every song Mojo Pin, Lilac Wine, Corpus Christi Carol, Eternal Life and Dream Brother were all indispensable. Here's his video for So Real, I think it reveals his light hearted side and anyman who loves apes and getting shirtless in the street has to be awesome.

I began to devour everything I could about him. I bought anything that he touched like his proposed second album Sketches (For My Sweetheart the Drunk) the one he was working on in Memphis around the time of his death. The first disc was professionally mixed and produced but Jeff wasn't happy with the album. The second disc contains a lot of 4 track recordings where Jeff was experimenting- it was where he wanted to take his music. During AmeriCorps I made a trip to Virgin Megastore in New York and found his DVD, which shows a totally different side and how amazing he was live. Vancouver takes my breath away, especially the finished version and it made, and still makes me want to movie there. Mystery White Boy, Live at l'Olympia= amazing live albums, absolutely amazing with brilliant songs that were never recorded in studio (Moodswing Whisky, Hallelujah/I Know it's Over especially in the former) and staggering versions of his classics. I bought his Live at Sin-e EP; his version of Van Morrison's The Way Young Lovers Do destroys the original (in the best of ways.)

And that was another way in which Jeff expanded and bettered my world of music. His influences were so vast and I was so into him that I wanted to know what made him tick, what made him who he was, who had he aspired to be.Van Morrison, The Smiths, Edith Piaf, Nina Simone, Nusrat Fateh Al Khan, Leonard Cohen and of course his father Tim; I was exposed to these artists and became a fan of them in the first place, because He was a fan before me. In late August of 2002, when I was having a mini breakdown in AmeriCorps, I decided to take a train trip which ended up being me going as far west as I could in Pennyslvania in 3 days. My only reading material was the fascinating dual biography of Jeff and his dad Tim. I highly recommend it.
Jeff was such an archetype, a fragile angel seemingly to beautiful for this world. Of course he had to die young. (I just wonder why he went into that river) but his music, as much of a cliche it is to say, but his music never will. He touched so many people and is still touching everyone that hears him. His admirers are legion and loyal. If you've never heard of him before I'm glad I could introduce you to him.
He was and He is.
Jeffrey Scott Buckley (november 17,1966- may 30,1997)

As if I can think of this no more.

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