Thursday, February 19, 2009

A Shooting Star That Faded Too Fast

Whenever I'm in a conversation about the greatest vocalists of all-time, I hear the usual: Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston, Bono, Elvis Presley, and loads of others I won't go on naming. All of those singers deserve their place among the greatest. But it makes me sad that usually, I never hear Jeff Buckley's name mentioned. This is probably because he never really had a chance to earn his place, though anyone who knows of him puts him up there.
Jeff Buckley was an amazing singer/guitar player/songwriter that came out in the 90's and had an incredible vocal range of four octaves. His guitar playing was very good, influenced by jazz, progressive rock and folk music. Being a guitar player myself, I can honestly say that some of the chords he used are the most interesting and different sounding chords I've seen in any song I've ever played. His music was always beautiful but also haunted, with his impressive vocals often wailing over minor chords to make you feel the emotion and sadness that he was emanating from the stage such as the vocals on songs like "So Real" or "Lilac Wine".
He recorded only one album, titled "Grace". Grace consisted of 10 songs, 7 of which were originals and 3 of which were covers-one of the covers being Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" which featured Buckley with only a guitar and his voice. Though the album sold poorly upon release, it received much critical acclaim and has been put on many lists of the greatest albums of all-time (including mine).
So, you are probably thinking, why haven't I ever heard of him? Sadly, at the age of 31, he drown in the Wolf River near Memphis, Tennessee. No drugs or foul play were involved. A friend who was there at the time, but was ashore even said that he was in good spirits before he drown.
In these situations, we often contemplate the question, "Why did he die?" But there is never an answer, at least never an answer that is befitting. In my opinion, no answer that someone could give is befitting of a talented and promising individual's life being cut short. So, instead, we can do them justice by remembering them. That is the highest honor we can show the dead.
I have posted links of his best songs. The first is the link to his solo performance of "Hallelujah". For whatever reason, I can't set up a direct link so just copy it to your address bar. The last two are "Lover, You Should Have Come Over" and "Lilac Wine". Except for "Hallelujah", none of the videos are actual videos and I have just posted them so you can listen to the song. Listen to the earnestness of his voice-thats what I love about it the most, that he sang with so much emotion. It is as if we start to become not just an audience but an active participant in the music, as if we begin to feel deeply what he is singing about to the point that we ARE what he is singing about. I'll stop here. The more I talk about the things I love the less I or anyone else who does the same makes any sense. Anyway, enjoy the songs because all of the songs will change your life.


Amber said...

good stuff!

Stace-Ghost said...

He was so talented. It would have been interesting to see what else he could have come up with if only his life were longer. I'm glad you blogged about him :)