After chatting with David about his feature, I went into the NME archives and fished out Buckley’s first meeting with the UK press. Originally, my interview appeared in early 1994 as a 400-word New Artist piece, before Buckley had played in the UK, though the version below is the full version that I ran in NME in May 1998. Totally forgot about the Pop Will Eat Itself reference…
Jeff Buckley was first interviewed by NME in February 1994, just before his first EP, “Live at Sin-E”, was released in Britain. It was a bitterly cold, blustery day, but it didn’t stop Buckley striding down the main street of Hoboken, New Jersey (where he was to play a remarkable solo gig later that night), bawling an operatic version of Beck’s ‘Loser’ at bemused passers-by.
Over the course of an evening, that seemed typically eccentric behaviour. He was ridiculous and funny and charming and blessed with the presence of a superstar, even though back then he was virtually unknown beyond music business insiders and the regulars at a string of New York folk venues. That didn’t last long.
At this early stage, Buckley had rarely been interviewed and it was hard to judge whether he was either ineffably pretentious or a very seductive wind-up merchant. Listening to the tape again, with a clutch of late (and often less candid) features to one side, I think he meant most of what he said. Some of what follows is weirdly profound, way outside the usual parameters of rock interviews. Some, on the other hand, especially when you take into account the long pauses between words, is the sounds of a man at the start of his career trying desperately hard to portray himself as deep. “I just think too much sometimes,” he mentions towards the end. And it’s impossible to argue with him.
Then, of course, there’s always the awful prescience that always seems to reveal itself when you go picking through the words of the dead. Buckley talks about taking unnecessary risks in life, about his eagerness to record more new songs long before “Grace” is released (which touring would deny him the opportunity to do for years) and, most unnerving of all, talking about drowning in music. Only a fool would find warning signs in old metaphors. But no-one, almost certainly, would deny their poignancy.
Where do you come from?
“I’m your basic average white boy, basically (laughs). Southern California, was born in Martin Luther King hospital in LA in ’66. Lived every place in Southern California.”
How come you moved around so much?
“Mmm… things happened. With marriages and relationships and jobs and stuff we had to do. One time we got evicted – all kinds of cool travails. But I finally left when I was 17. I let my mom move on and then I finished high school and went to LA. I lived there for about six years and by the end of that I was completely depressed and then I moved to New York.”
When did you start making music?
“When I was a kid. I started writing when I was 13. I got my first electric guitar when I was 13, but I’d always been singing. I had my first little acoustic when I was six. But I started being in bands when I was 13. Crappy rock bands, avant-garde things where we’d like ‘wanna go against the norm, man’. A lot of crazy shit, Musically it sounded like, I dunno, Captain Beefheart and David Bowie. One of the guys was way into Genesis, like the old Genesis. Remember we were kids, man. We were just fucking around. But by the time I was 14 or 15 I finally landed back in Anaheim, which is where Disneyland is: that place is such a wellspring of hatred for me. Because of its straightness, and because of the conservatism and debilitating that is to any artistic soul – just anybody that’s different. Every time I came to a new school I was always the new kid and I could stare out over the classroom and know exactly who wanted to kick my ass and who was gonna be my friend, like where the misfits were.”
Do you still see yourself as a misfit?
“I dunno… I feel out of step. Musically. Just out of step, not even behind or ahead. Just sort of like… I dunno, sometimes I feel like I’m still… just not… in sync. I don’t know how to explain it. I just am.”
You feel that’s in your personality and your music?
“Sure. I mean there’s no separation. Maybe it’s because I just have a different experience of life than most people. I don’t see people, I don’t see men and women at all. When I see them I see… their mothers and fathers. I see how old they are inside. Like when I look at the President, or anybody in record company, or a store owner, I may see a little boy behind the counter with the face of an old man. And that’s who I talk to. And it’s strange: it’s like seeing ghosts everywhere. I don’t really go on what people say so much, I go on their voice. I go on their energy at the time. I go on how close their arms are folded into their chest. And sometimes when I talk, I just don’t make sense. Sometimes it gets me into trouble.”
“Sometimes I don’t make myself understood all that well. I don’t do well when I communicate sometimes, but I’m trying to communicate directly.”
You seem to very intensely weigh up every word you say.
“(Sighs) That’s ‘cos I don’t wanna go off too much.”
You rant sometimes?
“Yeah, I do.”
What makes you angry?
“Oh… myself, usually. Or when somebody’s not really being fair to themselves. Or when somebody’s terribly self-critical – and this is very rare – that they’re very cold to other people. Someone who very wilfully wants to destroy something in other people, especially their dreams. That makes me very angry.”
Has that happened to you a lot?
“Sure. Going through the American school system.”
What about now? There must be a lot of pressure on you now, a lot of people excited at what you’re doing?
“No, there’s no pressure really from Columbia. They’ve actually clammed up about it. It’s miraculous (laughs). I have an incredible amount of pressure on myself.”
What do you see when you look in the mirror?
“Um… A little geeky kid. An old man. Both. Sometimes I can see a sexually obsessed woman.”
Does that ever come out?
“Oh yeah, sure. When I sing. But usually I feel too old inside.”
You think there’s a kind of schizophrenia, then, that fires the way you sing?
“I think that all people are many people. I think all people have many, many, many different souls inside and they just shift from one to the other.”
Are you a very sexually obsessive person?
“I just see sex in everything, ‘cos it’s everywhere. It’s not even the act so much, it’s the energy that surrounds everything and the way people work. And singing is… music is very reflective of sex.”
Is it like that old cliché that being onstage is better than sex?
“No. Sex is better than that. Sex is great. I appreciate it like I appreciate my skin and my teeth and my dreams. It’s a part of me. But I see it so much it’s like that religious feeling when people say that they see God everywhere and in everything. It’s just a tremendously great human gift. It’s the energy that powers everything that everybody does. I’m not talking about penetration. The Greeks were very, very smart in that way: that there were aspects of human life like sex, joy, envy and greed and they had a direct relationship with them as if they were people so they made gods and goddesses out of them. It’s sorta like that.”
So in what way does it inform your music?
“Well… I enjoy being ecstatic. I like visiting all the emotions directly. Every emotion has a sound. My human identity forms my music.”
You say you feel musically out of step. What inspires you to make that music?
“Oh, it comes directly from my dreams.”
But what about the way it sounds?
“What about it? What makes it that way?
Yeah. Prosaically, what are your influences?
“…People. That I meet. Sometimes I’ll have an indefinable feeling about them that translates into a sound in my head. Or the music of my childhood, or the music of the times when I really needed it. And I really need it now. There’s the holy trinity of Beatles, Hendrix and Zeppelin, but they have an incredible range. Anything with soul. I fall in love with all kinds of music and still have disgusting amount of hero worship.”
“Erm, Billie Holiday… (a baby crying across the room distracts him) BAY-BEE! DON’T WORRY! Erm… Judy Garland, Edith Piaf, Bob Dylan, the Pistols, PiL, Duke Ellington; that’s one of the rare cases where amazing, incredible. Crazy music comes out of joy. The Velvets, the Pixies – I miss them. It pisses me off the Kurt Cobain’ll write a good song and it’ll just get fucking run into the ground by MTV. Oh… if you wanna talk about older stuff, I adore Patti Smith. And I carry Allen Ginsberg with me everywhere. Sun Ra. Oh God, we could go on for hours. Critically acclaimed, being on TV doesn’t mean shit. I’d like for people just to turn away from those things and go out by themselves and really get surrounded by the music, loving it or hating it. ‘Cos it really doesn’t matter unless you taste it. unless you taste it you don’t know it, not even from your CD player.”
Off tape you said you were a freak magnet. Why?
“It’s my fault really because I welcome it. Apart from the music, my identity – my soul – welcomes extraordinary, extracurricular experience: possibly dangerous, possibly stupid; I’ve done a couple of those. Like getting stranded in Chicago in the ghetto, having a great time for four or five hours then getting picked up by the cops and the adventures that ensued therein. Things that would totally make my friends worry about me all the time. And they do. Like talking to people you’re not supposed to. The fringes are where life is happening. There’s the conventional world, and then there’s the eccentric world way out on the fringes and that’s usually what speaks to me most.”
Do you survive on taking risks?
You think all those people in Anaheim do?
“Sure. They’re risking their lives by being so completely closed. They’re taking the ultimate risk. They’ll die so young, they’ll be old so fast. David Lynch has nothing on this place. Going to high school with the Disneyland Nazi Youth. I just never, ever seek to inhabit that sort of space again. But New York is full of beautiful, strange people. Like Quentin Crisp. Allen Ginsberg. Not even really famous people.”
Are you ambitious?
Do you want to be a star?
“That’s secondary. No, I wanna find these things that I smell way in the distance. I wanna dig to them, I wanna swim down to them, I wanna drown in them. I don’t know what they are. It’s a kind of music – it’s a kind of place, actually.”
Do you think you take things too seriously?
“I don’t know what that means.”
“No. What, like just music?”
“I think… I have… a strong sense of wonder for things, and a strong sense of cynicism at the same time. No, I don’t think I’m too serious. You’ve got to be cynical to draw boundaries between you and the things that will waste your time. And you have to be cynical to make sure you do what’s right sometimes.”
One question which I have to ask: about your father…
“Right. What do you wanna know?”
Well, there are definite similarities in the music.
“There are? Like what?”
Like your voice. Like there’s something audacious about your music. It takes risks. It has a dynamic which is very much of its own. Do you see that?
“Well, yeah, I was born with the same parts. But it’s not really our voice. Like, I don’t just have his voice – his father had that voice. I didn’t even know him at all, really, I met him for a week. I was seven, eight, something like that.
Quite close to the end, then.
“Yeah, that’s right. Two months. He left before I was born, so I didn’t really know him, and he never wrote or called or anything.”
Was he very awkward with you when you met him?
“Don’t remember… No, no, he sat me on his knee but we really didn’t talk. It was backstage somewhere. And then he bought me a toy and we had dinner together, him and his chosen family. He remarried and adopted a son and he was very much in love. They were his own people. But I don’t really go to him for information, I don’t go to him for inspiration. I’ve got my own loves. But maybe, yeah, I’ve got the same parts right here. I don’t think I make the same choices, though.”
“About music. I mean, punk didn’t happen to him. Bad Brains happened to me. And I think I use… I dunno… Maybe we were born best friends and we never got to be that, sorta had something in common… My mom and my stepfather had everything to do with my musical opinions my mum sang, played the piano and cello, and my stepfather was a car mechanic and bought records and turned me on to all kinds of amazing stuff.”
Did you ever listen to your father’s records? Were they in the house?
“No. I think mom had them somewhere, but I listened mostly as a kid to Joni Mitchell and Crosby, Stills & Nash and Stevie Wonder and Sly. Anything that was on the radio… Does my breath smell bad, ‘cos I had like houmous with onions in it? Horrible. It’s Bad Breath Yank from California… What else do you wanna know?”
I think your music’s going to mean a lot to a lot of people. How are you geared up for adulation? How well can you deal with the fact that people are going to be using your records for very intense experiences?
“Well… If they do, that’s great. But there are two kinds of beauty: there’s people that are born with a melodious soul, those that make music; and then there’s those who can appreciate it. And neither one is more important. One can’t happen without the other. The musician makes the music with the audience if he or she is doing the right thing.”
Do you need adulation?
“No. I quite like it, but I don’t need it. It’s an exchange. It’s all feeding. And sometimes people just aren’t ready for it, or they couldn’t care less, or they actually don’t like me and I can feel that too. At least it’s real. That’s the way it’s been all my life. I can see people and they hate me. For no reason. Something about me makes them not like me. But music especially, because it gets into the bloodstream immediately. There’s something very primal about it. You can’t close your ears. Maybe your heart is closed to it, like maybe you don’t like Pop Will Eat Itself and it irritates you every time it comes on, so you’re not open to it. But other people will fucking suck their toes if they have the chance. I don’t even know what the look like, or what they sound like. They just came into my head. Music works quickly.”
You say you struggle for words sometimes. Do you feel it easier to communicate your feelings by wordless singing?
“Words are limited, actually. It’s a heightened way, but then sometimes if I say into the microphone as part of the music, ‘I know that you’re afraid to love me’ at the right time, it’s a balance between both. Music is for all the broken homes that’ve ever existed, ‘cos for once it’s the perfect marriage between a male and a female, the language is very structured and very male and the voice is wide open and chaotic and very female. I mean, the energies. It’s like blood is this flowing thing and it needs the structure of the vein to take it to the right places. And without it there’s internal bleeding and death. And that’s why it’s so powerful. And that’s what I see. But it’s basically just songs about my life and little things.”
Do you use it in any cathartic way?
“Sure. It has helped me, but I don’t… Last night it cured a headache. I had a huge headache in my shoulders and by the end of ‘Grace’ it was gone. It’s like storytelling, all songs and stories take you through this journey, this path, through your psyche, like a dream. And it can take you anywhere. So sometimes it even heals.”
It’s that powerful?
“Sometimes. It can solve problems, and sometimes it can change your heart. It doesn’t even inspire you to make music, it just inspires something in your ordinary life which is unavoidable. Without that, I’d have nothing. And right now I have very little ordinary life, ‘cos I’m on the road.”
What do you miss?
“I don’t know, I don’t know that I’m missing anything. I just think too much sometimes. Sometimes I’m even happy because I’m so engaged in the thinking. But that’s the great thing about performing, and why it is also sexual, because in that moment – or in that evening – I’m completely in the present for once in my life. Nothing that came before or anything that may come after: only what matters is now. And that’s what human beings crave.”
Is there anything else you want to do?
“We’ll see. I may get screwed up and then I’ll have to take up sculpting. I’d be at the beginning again and be a child again and grow up. As long as it has a life. I’m not so important as a name or a body or a face or a person, it’s really it.”
And when’s the album (“Grace”) coming out?
“About June (It was eventually released in August). That’ll come out, and then I wanna come out with something immediately, ‘cos I’m sick of hearing this album.”
Toronto’s NOW magazine, 12/06/97
The author Kim Hughes is a music journalist ; she is a columnist for Toronto’s premiere entertainment weekly ‘NOW’, and the host of a comprehensive evening radio show on CFNY 102.1 The Edge, ‘Live in Toronto’. (That’s with a long ‘i’.) Opinionated, passionate, erudite; Kim is a wonderful flag-waver for alternative music, no matter how you define it. (Thanks to Adrian Brassington)
L’auteur Kim Hugues est une journaliste musicale ; elle écrit pour ‘NOW’, le premier hebdomadaire de divertissement de Toronto, et l’animatrice d’une émission de radio du soir sur CFNY 102.1 the Edge, ‘Live in Toronto’ (Vivre à Toronto). Opiniâtre, passionnée, érudite, Kim est un merveilleux porte-drapeau pour la musique alternative, quelle que soit la façon dont on la définit.
The voice is utterly immune to gravity and it’s swirling gently around me as if suspended in the ether. It clings to words like soft cotton and it’s so pure and so shamelessly romantic that I begin to second-guess the depth of my own emotions.
[La voix est complètement immunisée contre la gravité et elle tourbillonne doucement autour de moi, comme suspendue dans l’ether. Elle se cramponne aux mots comme du coton doux et elle est si pure et si romantique sans honte que je commence à anticiper la profondeur de mes propres émotions.]
Jeff Buckley always does that to me. It’s been a little more than a week since his tragic accidental drowning death at age 30 and I’ve only just worked up the courage to play his sole studio record, ‘Grace’, again.
[Jeff Buckley me fait toujours ça. Il s’est passé un peu plus d’une semaine depuis sa tragique noyade accidentelle à l’âge de 30 ans et j’ai trouvé seulement maintenant le courage de ré-écouter son unique album studio, “Grace”.]
I met Jeff several times. Whenever he came to Toronto to play a gig, he’d stop by the storefront studios of the radio station where I moonlight for a chat. Guarded at first, and ever fearful that the legacy of his late father Tim would colour any appraisal of his work, he gradually came to realize I wasn’t the enemy and that, given time, anyone confronted with his extraordinary voice and exquisitely rendered songs would be firmly won over, family ties notwithstanding.
[J’ai rencontré Jeff plusieurs fois. Chaque fois qu’il venait à Toronto pour faire un concert, il s’arrêtait devant la vitrine des studios de la radio où je fais la conversation au clair de lune. Surveillé au début, et toujours craintif que l’héritage de son père Tim puisse fausser toute évaluation de son travail, il a réalisé petit-à-petit que je n’étais pas l’ennemi et que, avec du temps, quiconque confronté à sa voix extraordinaire et à ses chansons d’un rendu exquis serait fermement convaincu, nonobstant les liens familiaux.]
He was slyly funny, dashing, playful, slightly flirtatious and intensely passionate, just like on record. Like many others, I saw Buckley as an island of sorts- seemingly oblivious to trends or commercial considerations but deeply simpatico with the rumblings of his heart and powerless to suppress its message.
I keep weeping, and trying to rationalize why such a lovely spirit with enormous, untapped talent died so young. I selfishly wish he’d finished another record so I could have more of him, and wish I’d had the guts to pull him aside and tell him how much his music touched me. He probably would have blushed and come back with some snappy retort to diffuse the awkward moment.
[Il était malicieusement drôle, fringant, joueur, légèrement dragueur et intensément passionné, exactement comme sur disque. Comme beaucoup d’autres, j’ai vu Buckley comme une sorte d’îlot - semblant être conscient du marché ou des considérations commerciales mais profondément sympathique avec les grondements de son coeur et impuissant à supprimer leur message.
Je continue de pleurer, d’essayer de rationaliser : pourquoi un esprit aussi beau avec un talent énorme et inexploité est mort si jeune. Je souhaite égoïstement qu’il ait pu terminer un autre album, ainsi j’aurais pu avoir un peu plus de lui, et je souhaite avoir eu les tripes de le tirer à part et de lui dire à quel point sa musique me touchait. Il aurait probablement rougi et serait revenu avec une riposte rapide pour diffuser ce moment embarassant.]
Since learning of his disappearance, I’ve found great solace among friends, but nothing has been more comforting than Gayle Kelemen’s homemade Web page (http://www.goodnet.com/~gkelemen/jeffhome.html).
It’s filled with dozens of sweet, sincere tributes from fans all over the planet aching to remember.
[Depuis que j’ai appris sa disparition, j’ai trouvé une grande consolation auprès d’amis, mais rien ne m’a plus réconforté que les pages personnelles sur le Web de Gayle Kelemen.
Elles sont nourries de douzaines d’hommages doux et sincères de fans de toute la planète brûlant de se souvenir.]
I feel better knowing others share my profound sadness, and I’m encouraged, slightly, that Buckley’s small but startling output will forever bloom in the hearts of those fans and be passed on with exuberance, so he’ll never become just an sad footnote in some half-assed rock encyclopedia. Mostly, I hope he didn’t suffer. And I hope that wherever he is now, he’s sipping lilac wine and bathing in the warm sunlight of his fan’s love.
[Je me sens mieux en sachant que d’autres partagent ma profonde tristesse, et je suis réconfortée, légèrement, que la petite mais saisissante production de Buckley fleurisse pour toujours dans le coeur de ces fans et soit transmise avec exubérance, ainsi il ne sera jamais réduit à une triste note de bas de page dans une quelconque encyclopédie du rock foireuse. Surtout, j’espère qu’il n’a pas souffert. Et j’espère que, où qu’il soit maintenant, il sirote du vin lilas et qu’il se baigne dans le chaud soleil de l’amour de ses fans.]
Excerpts from the article in the Sydney Telegraph, Saturday 6th June, 1997, pp 38-39.
It contained an interesting interview with John Pope, Jeff’s Australian tour manager, and Donny Ienner, Head of Columbia Records. (thanks to Christine Warren)
THE LAST GOODBYE
Music writer Dino Scatena examines an ironic finale.
The tragic details of Jeff Buckley’s final few moments read like an overly dramatic draft for one of the artist’s video clips. The imagery could have served as a perfect visual counterpart to his most famous song, Last Goodbye. A carefree Buckley, laughing and singing as he walks fully clothed into the Mississippi River, floating on his back until the water’s swirling hidden life-force rises to hug his fragile frame and lead it into eternity.
Les détails tragiques des derniers moments de Jeff Buckley sont comme un brouillon extrèmement dramatique d’un clip vidéo de l’artiste. L’image aurait pu servir de parfait équivalent visuel pour sa chanson la plus célèbre : Last Goodbye. Un Buckley insousciant, riant et chantant comme il va tout habillé dans le Mississipi, flottant sur le dos jusqu’au moment où la force vitale cachée dans l’eau tourbillonnante s’élève pour étreindre sa fragile charpente et la conduire dans l’éternité.
Buckley would have hated such a storyboard; too cliched, too grandiose. The 30-year-old singer/songwriter always strived to make his work uncluttered, simple, its power left to be carried through the innate beauty of his poetry and pure angelic voice.
Buckley aurait détesté un tel story board ; trop cliché, trop grandiose. Le chanteur/songwriter, âgé de 30 ans, s’est toujours efforcé de désencombrer son travail, simple, son pouvoir se laissait porter par la beauté innée de sa poésie et de sa voix pure et angélique.
The extraordinary circumstances surrounding the death of Jeff Buckley has once again sent a generation of rock fans around the world into deep mourning. It’s an all too familiar tale: an artist with a seemingly mystic gift, a tortured and tormented soul whose presence is whisked away from us before its full potential is realised.
Les circonstances extraordianaires entourant la mort de Jeff Buckley a plongé à nouveau une génération de fans de rock du monde entier dans un deuil profond.
As it’s turned out, Buckley was only on this world long enough to release a single album, Grace will remain one of the most astonishing and well-rounded debuts of the modern rock age.
Vu la tournure des choses, Buckley a été dans ce monde seulement assez longtemps pour sortir un unique album, Grace restera un des premiers albums les plus étonnants et les mieux tournés du rock de l’âge moderne.
Of course, all the tragedy surrounding Buckley’s passing is compounded by the fact that his father, Tim Buckley, met a similar premature end. Tim Buckley, who many still hail as the most original folk singer of his generation, died of a drug overdose in 1975 at the age of 28.
Bien sûr, toute la tragédie entourant le décès de Buckley est constituée du fait que son père, Tim Buckley, eut également une fin prématurée.Tim Buckley, que beaucoup proclament encore comme le plus original chanteur folk de sa génération, est mort d’une overdose de drogue en 1975 à l’âge de 28 ans.
I lost myself on a cool damp night
I gave myself in that misty light
Was hypnotised by a strange delight
Under a lilac tree
Jeff Buckley’s two visits to Sydney left an enduring impression. He came twice within six months, first in August of 1995 and then in February of last year. That first brief trip came on the back of an extended European tour. “I was getting tired of it in the last moments of playing in Europe, but it’s entirely new here and I’ve had time to convalesce,” he told a reporter on arrival.
Les deux passages de Jeff Buckley à Sydney ont laissé une impression durable. Il est venu deux fois en 6 mois, d’abord en août 1995 puis en février de l’année dernière. Ce premier et bref voyage venait derrière une grande tournée européenne. “Je commençais à fatiguer les dernières fois où j’ai joué en Europe, mais c’est entièrement nouveau ici et j’ai eu le temps de me remettre”, dit-il à un reporter à son arrivée.
Over the next few days, he gave two unforgettable performances: one at a small club called the Lounge in Melbourne and the other at Sydney’s Metro nightclub. To those present, the Metro show on August 28 rates as one of the greatest musical performances ever witnessed in this city. In a magical 90 minutes, Buckley and his three-piece band delivered a remarkable set of light and shade featuring much of the Grace album as well as the aggressive covers of MC5’s Kick Out the Jams” and Big Star’s “Kangaroo”. Buckley’s pure, acrobatic voice sounded all the more extraordinary in the flesh. “You could hear a pin drop,” recalled tour manager John Pope. “He held the audience in the palm of his hand. He’d take you on the ride with him. He’d lift you and take you down. He paced his gigs with finesse. When he walked on to a stage, he felt a responsibility, but it wasn’t to the audience. It was to something else. God knows what.”
Les neuf jours suivants, il donna deux performances inoubliables : une dans un petit club appelé “the Lounge in Melbourne” et l’autre au Sydney’s Metro nightclub. A ceux qui étaient présents, le show du Metro en août demeure une des plus extraordinaires performances jamais vue dans cette ville. En 90 minutes magiques, Buckley et les trois autres membres du groupe offrèrent un remarquable set de lumères et d’ombres jouant la plupart des chansons de l’album “Grace” comme des reprises agressives de “Kick Out the Jams” des MC5 et de “Kangaroo” de Big Star. La voix pure et acrobatique de Buckley sonnait le plus extraordinairement possible dans la salle. “Vous pouviez entendre une mouche voler” rappelle le tour manager John Pope. “Il tenait le public dans la paume de sa main. Il vous emmenait faire le voyage avec lui. Il vous levait et vous reposait. Il dosait ses shows avec finesse. Quand il montait sur scène, il sentait une responsabilité, mais pas envers le public. C’était autre chose. Dieu sait quoi.”
“There was high anticipation which was rewarded 10-fold when he played, added Jen Brennan, manager of teh night’s local support act Crow. “He just moved a lot of people. It was quite extraordinary. It’s not often that you get a crowd at the Metro that’s so silent and still. It was serene and very powerful.”
"Il y avait une grande anticipation qui avait été 10 fois récompensée quand il a joué", ajoute Jen Brennan, manager du Crow."Il a touché un grand nombre de personnes. C’était vraiment extraordinaire.Ce n’est pas souvent qu’on voit une foule au Metro qui soit si silencieuse et si calme. C’était serein et très puissant."
Indeed a couple of nights later at the Lounge show in Melbourne, the venue’s management found it necessary to turn off the cash registers because their collective clanging messed with the ambience.
De fait, deux nuits plus tard au Lounge show de Melbourne, le management trouva nécessaire de fermer les caisses enregistreuses parce que leur bruit collectif cassait l’ambiance.
That first visit was meant to be a simply a quick promotional trip to push Grace, but such was the impact of the Metro show that Buckley was persuaded to return to Sydney and play two extra gigs at the Phoenician Club to quench the city’s sudden fascination with him.
Cette première visite était censée être simplement un rapide voyage voyage promotionnel pour pousser Grace, mais l’impact au Metro show a été tel qu’on a convaincu Buckley de revenir à Sydney et de jouer deux nouveaux shows au Phoenician club étancher la soudaine fascination de la ville envers lui.
Within a few days of arriving, Buckley was gone. But he’d loved his time here and promised to return as soon as he could. Buckley kept his word and was back in February for a full-scale national tour.
Peu de temps après son arrivée, Buckley était parti. Mais il avait adoré le temps passé ici et avait promis de revenir aussi vite que possible. Buckley tint parole et était de retour en février pour une tournée nationale.
It was now two years since the release of Grace and the pressures of life on the road as a high-profile recording artist were starting to show. “The whole Grace period has just been madness,” he told the Daily Telegraph at the time. “I had no idea how completely crazy in the head I was until I came back and touched ground. I lost a lot of blood out there, meaning some things fell apart, some things got stronger. I think maybe I sensed my life would be altered forever, but not in any of the shapes it has. It’s just like having a child. You can plan on it for years and years and think about it and daydream about it but when it actually happens, the ripple it causes in your life is really transforming.”
Cela faisait maintenant deux ans que Grace était sorti et les pressions de la vie en tournée d’un artiste de studio commençaient à se faire sentir. “Toute la période Grace a été de la folie”, disait-il au Daily Telegraph à ce moment. “Je ne me rendais pas compte que j’étais complètement fou dans ma tête jusqu’à ce que je revienne et que je touche le sol. J’ai perdu beaucoup de sang là-bas, je veux dire que des choses ont disparu, certaines choses sont plus fortes. Je crois peut-être que je sentais que ma vie serait altérée pour toujours, mais pas du tout dans le sens où elle l’a été. C’est juste comme d’avoir un enfant. Vous pouvez le planifier sur des années et des années et penser à ça et rêver à ça mais en fait quand cela arrive, l’onde de choc que ça cause dans votre vie et vraiment “transformante”.”
Although that second tour may have been a bit flat on stage, Buckley was still in good spirits, the same free-wheeling reckless self. He had his girlfriend with him this time, a violinist named Joan from a band called the Dambuilders. There was a screaming match back at the band’s hotel one night when one of Buckley’s bandmates came back to his room to find the singer and his girlfriend had trashed the room and had sex in both beds. Another night when Joan’s band was playing a show at the Annandale hotel, Buckley went down and took care of the light show. When the Dambuilders started trashing their own instruments at the end of the show, Buckley abandoned his lighting duites and ran up on stage and helped them do it right.
Même si cette seconde tournée peut avoir été un peu plate sur scène, Buckley était toujours dans de bons esprits, le même personnage imprudent en roue libre. Il avait sa copine avec lui cette fois, une violoniste nommée Joan dun groupe appelé the Dambuilders. Il y eut une effrayante baguarre à l’hôtel du groupe une nuit quand une des roadies de Buckley revint dans sa chambre pour s’apercevoir que le chanteur et sa copine avaient dégueulassé la chambre et fait l’amour dans les deux lits. Une autre nuit quand le groupe de Joan jouait un show à l’hôtel Annandale, Buckley descendit et s’occupa des lumières. Quand les Dambuilders commencèrent à détruire leurs propres instruments à la fin du show, Buckley abandonna la lumière et couru sur la scène pour les aider à bien faire.
Friends all describe Buckley as a warm, loving, open soul but the singer was often apprehensive when first approached by strangers. John Pope, who as tour manager for both visits spent virtually every day with Buckley while he was in Australia, described how the artist might appear cold as ice at first and then suddenly swing to the other extreme. “Someone on the street might say:’Are you Jeff Buckley?’” Pope explained. “And one day he night say: ‘No he’s over there, I saw him just go around the corner.’ Or sometimes he might go, ‘Yeah, I’m him’ or ‘Leave me alone’. Then they might say something funny and he’d open straight up to them and talk to them like they’re long lost friends. It went that way in personal life, business life and with people he’d never met before.”
Ses amis décrivent tous Buckley comme une âme chaude, amoureuse et ouverte mais le chanteur appréhendait souvent ses premières approches avec des étrangers. John Pope, qui en tant que Tour Manager pour les deux passages passa virtuellement chaque jour avec Buckley pendant qu’il était en Australie, décrit comment l’artiste pouvait apparaître froid comme de la glace au début puis soudainement aller vers l’autre extrème. “Quelqu’un dans la rue pouvait dire “êtes-vous Jeff Buckley ?”“, explique Pope. “Et un jour il pouvait répondre : “Non, c’est par là, je l’ai vu juste tourner au coin.” Ou parfois ça pouvait être “ouais, c’est moi” ou “Laissez-moi tranquille”. Puis ils pouvaient dire quelque chose de drôle alors il s’ouvrait directement à eux comme s’ils étaient de vieux amis perdus de vus. C’était comme ça dans sa vie personnelle, professionnelle et avec des gens qu’il n’avait jamais vus avant.”
Pope’s fondest personal memory of Buckley came during the first trip. The singer was furious when he found out that his tour manager hadn’t told him that it was his birthday. Buckley promptly organised a penis-shaped cake and presented it to Pope on stage in Melbourne before shoving his face in the gift. Pope holds dear a photo of the pait on stage together, Buckley covered in cake and smiling broadly.
Le premier souvenir personnel de Pope concernant Buckley date du premier voyage. Le chanteur était furieux quand il découvrit que son Tour Manager ne lui avait pas dit que c’était son anniversaire. Buckley organisa sur-le-champ un gâteau en forme de penis et le présenta à Pope sur scène à Melbourne avant de pousser son visage dans son cadeau. Pope montre tendrement une photo de l’événement sur scène ensemble, Buckley couvert de gateau et souriant vaguement.
"I can imagine him doing exactly what he did," Pope offered in reference to the circumstances of Buckley’s disappearance, recalling the time he tried to talk the singer out of going for a night swim at Coolangatta Beach. "From when I knew him, you’d say: ‘You shouldn’t do that Jeff.’ And he’d go:’Nah, it’ll be all right. Don’t worry about it.’ And off he’d go. He was carefree and easy-going like that about life. "There was an edge to him that comes with creative people. He was definitely touched. He’d have those moments of of madness like any artisitc person does. But there was no self-destructiveness in it at all."
"Je peux l’imaginer en train de faire exactement ce qu’il a fait", Pope fait référence aux circonstances de la disparition de Buckley, rappelant le temps où il essayait de convaincre le chanteur de ne pas aller nager à Coolangatta Beach. "Tel que je le connais, vous auriez dit : "Tu ne devrais pas faire ça Jeff". Et il aurait répondu : "Bah, ça va aller. Ne t’inquiète pas de ça". Et il aurait été. Il était imprudent et insousciant comme ça avec la vie. "Il y avait un côté chez lui qui est lié aux gens créatifs. Il était définitivement atteint. Il avait ces moments de folie comme tout artiste en a. Mais il n’y avait pas d’auto-destruction là-dedans du tout."
They’re waiting for you
Like I waited for mine
And nobody ever came.
Jeff Buckley only ever met his famous father once. He spent a week with Tim, who left his mother Mary Guibert only a week after she gave birth to their only child, in April of 1975 when he was eight. Two months later, his father was dead. The weight his father’s shadow cast on his life was the primary reason it took Jeff so long to take the leap into the limelight. “I knew there would be [comparisons] from the time I was a small child,” Jeff once revealed. “From the time that his manager started calling my house when I was six or seven. I found my grandmother’s guitar and [the manager] started calling the house:’Has he written songs yet?’ So I’ve been waiting and doing the maths in my head about the inevitable comparisons all my life. But I don’t care.”
Jeff a seulement rencontra son célèbre père seulement une fois. Il passa une semaine avec Tim, qui quitta sa mère Mary Guibert seulement une semaine après qu’elle ait donné naissance à son unique enfant, en avril 1975 quand il avait 8 ans. Deux mois plus tard, son père était mort. Le poids de l’ombre de la personnalité son père sur sa vie fut la principale raison pour laquelle cela prit si longtemps à Jeff de sortir de l’ombre. “Je savais qu’il y aurait des comparaisons depuis que je suis enfant,” révéla Jeff un jour. “A partir du moment où son manager a commencé à appeler chez moi quand j’avais 6 ou 7 ans. J’ai trouvé la guitare de ma grand-mère et le manager a commencé à appeler à la maison : “A-t-il déjà écrit des chansons ?” Alors j’ai attendu et fait le calcul dans ma tête à propos de l’inévitable comparaison toute ma vie. Mais je m’en fiche.”
Buckley was never comfortable discussing his father, deeply resented the fact that he wasn’t invited to the funeral. But in 1991, he made an unannounced appearance at a Tim Buckley tribute concert in Brooklyn and performed a moving solo version of his father’s I Never Asked to be Your Mountain. “I both admired and hated it,” the young Buckley said afterwards on the song written about his parents’ relationship. “That’s why I did it. It was something really private to me. I figured that if I went to the tribute and sang and paid my respects, I could be done with it.”
Buckley ne se sentait jamais à l’aise pour parler de son père, ressentant profondément le fait qu’il ne fut pas invité aux funérailles. Mais en 1991, il fit une apparition surprise à un concert hommage à Tim Buckley à Brooklyn et joua une version solo “bougeante” de la chanson de son père “I Never Asked to Be your Mountain”. “Je l’admirais et la haïssais à la fois,” disait le jeune Buckley après-coup de la chanson écrite sur la relation de ses parents. “C’est pour ça que je l’ai fait. C’était quelque chose de vraiment très privé pour moi. Je m’imaginais que si je venais à l’hommage et chantais et payais mes respects, je pouvais en être quitte”.
It’s night time coming
I’m not afraid to die …
My love, now the rain is falling
I believe my time has come
It reminds me of the pain I might leave behind.
Jeff Buckley signed to Columbia records home to the likes of Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen, in 1993 and soon after released the EP Live At The Sin(e).
Jeff Buckley signa avec Columbia Records en 1993 à l’instar de Bob Dylan et Bruce Springsteen et peu après sortit le EP “Live at Sin-é”.
In an exclusive interview with the Daily Telegraph yesterday, an emotional Donny Ienner — head of Columbia Records and the man directly responsible for signing Buckley — shared his reminiscences aof that early period. “I remember the first time I went down to see Jeff after a few people had told me about his performances at SINE, I was so taken that night by the depth of his artist. Of all the artists that I’ve ever personally signed, Jeff made the most immediate impact on my life. I felt that his reverence for the past, not to mention obviously the opportunites for the future, was incredible. He knew every record of Miles Davis and Edith Piaf and opera records and classical records and Led Zeppelin records. He was just such a great teacher of diverse music. He defies any sort of characterisation or trend. He had that at a very, very early age and the impact that he made on the world with just an EP and an album is going to be felt for decades to come. Jeff never worried about rock stardom, never worried about money, and never worried about the things that a lot of young artists worry about today. He was really worried about making sure his integrity was intact at all times. He was just an incredible thing.”
Dans une interview exclusive avec le Daily Telegraph hier, un Donny Ienner ému - patron de Columbia Records et l’homme directement responsable du contrat de Buckley - partageait ses souvenirs de cette récente période. “Je me souviens de la première fois que je suis venu voir Jeff après que quelques personnes m’aient parlé de ses performances au Sin-é, j’ai été si frappé cette nuit-là par la profondeur de cet artiste. De tous les artistes que j’ai personnellement signés, Jeff a eu l’imapct le plus immédiat dans ma vie. Je sentais que sa révérence pour le passé, pour ne pas mentionner d’ailleurs les opportunités pour le futur, était incroyable. Il connaissait chaque disque de Miles Davis et Edith Piaf et des disques d’opéra et des disques classiques et les disques de Led Zeppelin. C’était un super professeur de diverses musiques. Il défie toutes sortes de caractérisation ou de tendance. Il a eu ça très très jeune et l’impact qu’il a eu sur le monde avec seulement un EP et un album s’estimera dans les décennies à venir. Jeff ne s’est jamais inquiété de la célébrité rock, ne s’est jamais inquiété de l’argent, ne s’est jamais inquiété des choses qui inquiètent beaucoup de jeunes artistes aujourd’hui. Il s’inquiétait vraiment d’être assuré de garder tout le temps intacte son intégrité. Il était juste une chose incroyable.”
Ienner also took the opportunity to reject widespread rumours that Buckley had been depressed in the weeks leading up to his disappearance because of problems with his record comapny over the shape his follow up to Grace should take. “I think he was in a good place in terms of making his second record,” Ienner said. “The thing that I personally promised him when he signed to Columbia records was that he could take all the time he needed in between his records and we would not interfere on any level. He had over 100 songs and he was ready to go in at the end of June to make his record. He was in wonderful spirits, he was having an amazingly good time spiritually, emotionally and professionally down in Memphis (where Buckley had been since February)”.
Ienner a également saisi l’opportunité de rejeter les rumeurs très répandues sur une déprime de Buckley dans les semaines précédant sa disparition à cause de problèmes avec sa maison de disque, au sujet de la forme que devait prendre l’album succédant à Grace. “Je pense qu’il était bien placé en vue de faire son second album,” a dit Ienner. “La chose que je lui ai personnellement promise quand il a signé à Colombia Records était qu’il pourrait prendre tout le temps dont il avait besoin entre ses albums et que nous n’interférerions pas à aucun niveau. Il avait plus de 100 chansons et il était prêt à aller au bout à la fin du mois de juin pour faire son disque. Il était dans un état d’esprit merveilleux, il passait un étonnemment bon moment spirituellement, émotionnellement et professionnellement à Memphis (où Buckley était depuis février)”.
Ienner confirmed that late last year, Buckley completed seven new songs during sessions in New York with producer and former Television lynch-pin, Tom Verlaine. “We have no plans to release anything right now. From what I understand from the people he’s been working with, there are in excess of 50 or 60 songs that he was working on. So there’s a wonderful legacy that he’s left behind.”
Ienner a confirmé que, à la fin de l’année dernière, Buckley a terminé 7 nouvelles chansons pendant les sessions à New York avec le producteur et le fondateur de Television Tom Verlaine. “Nous n’avons pas prévu de le sortir pour le moment.D’après ce que j’ai compris des gens avec qui il travaillait, il y a en plus 50 ou 60 chansons sur lesquelles il travaillait. C’est donc un legs merveilleux qu’il laisse derrière lui.”
Looking out the door
I see the rain fall upon the funeral mourners
Parading in a wake of sad relations as their shoes fill up with water
Maybe I’m too young to keep good love from going wrong
But tonight you’re on my mind so you’ll never know
(Lover, You Should’ve Come Over)
Jeff Buckley is gone but, like all the other great artists who were cut down in their prime, his music will long outlive his tragically short life.
Jeff Buckley est parti mais, comme tous les autres grands artistes fauchés dans leur force de l’âge, sa musique survivra longtemps à sa vie tragiquement courte.