at the Folklore Center
NYC – March 6, 1967
for the crass plug, but if youve seen the new issue
of Uncut, youll
have seen an amazing picture of Tim Buckley, playing solo
to a 35-strong audience at Izzy Youngs Folklore Center
in New York.
year is 1967, and Buckley is somewhere between the relatively
orthodox folk-rock of his debut, and the extraordinary, personal
music that would fill Goodbye And Hello, and act as
a jump-off for the potent explorations that would soon follow.
Its a pretty fascinating period, very short, and one
thats never really been revisited; up until now, the
earliest Buckley live material thats officially surfaced
comes from his John Peel session in April 1968, a full year
respect, then, to Josh at Tompkins Square (one of the most
consistently interesting labels of the past few years, in
truth), who is putting out Live At The Folklore Center,
NYC March 6, 1967. Its a remarkable recording,
not least for its clarity: as pack leader of a generation
of folklorists keen to capture traditional songs in the field
before they died out, Young had some very decent recording
equipment to hand in his club.
result is this crisp, intimate and generous set, with Buckley
tackling sixteen songs. The material splits between songs
from the debut (most notably a fervid Arent You The
Girl) and stuff in development for Goodbye & Hello,
most notably wonderful versions of two of his finest songs,
I Never Asked To Be Your Mountain and No Man Can
Find The War.
unquestionably great music, but a fascinating insight into
a songwriters development, too. As Buckley expands the
parameters of his music (Im always trying to stretch
myself, explore; I love to see change, he told Young
at the time), you can virtually detect the speed of his development.
Live At The Folklore Center is blessed with half a
dozen songs that have never surfaced anywhere else, in any
form (seven that never saw studio versions, if you add Troubadour).
Theyre all mostly excellent, but you sense that, by
the time, Buckley arrived at the Goodbye & Hello
sessions, his ideas had already superseded this batch.
Please Leave Me, for instance, is quite brilliant, a giddy
and impassioned piece that stands comparison with Arent
You The Girl, but perhaps too frenzied and poppy for the
more baked terrain Buckley was approaching. Its harder,
though, to account for why he ditched What Do You Do (He
Never Saw You), Cripples Cry and, especially, the plaintive,
unravelling visions of If The Rain Comes.
relative constant, though, is Buckleys admiration for
Fred Neil. Perhaps predictably, an elegaic version of Dolphins
is here, and outstanding. But Country Boy takes as
its springboard Neils song of the same name, before
Buckley heads off into untethered, extemporised space. It
feels like a night when one of the great singer-songwriters
began his journey in earnest.