the first bars of The Dolphins riff leading
to Tim singing "Sometimes I think about...." (which has to be one of
the best opening lines of a song ever), the warmth and quality of what he did
when he was here with us is clear. He took me through the music with such delicacy,
such effortless gliding that when I started to draft these notes, I was tempted
to write just one word: "listen".
first heard Tim Buckley's music coming out of an old boyfriend's worn-out stereo
speaker one rainy Northern afternoon, in the social experiment 60's council estate
that was our home. I flipped the album cover round in my hands and I studied his
incredulous face on the front of Sefronia. He looked too pretty to be making
those ancient noises with his throat. It was 1978/9 and I was just finishing school,
desperate to sing, learn and experience this amazing post hippie/punk world of
song and songwriting, which was left for me to explore by all who went before
Buckley had already left the planet, having died a few years earlier. I missed
out on ever seeing him play but there were the albums; full and heavy with moving
vocal and guitar shapes, overwhelming me with the wit of his improvisations. I
understood and resonated so completely with what he was doing and have spent the
rest of my life searching for the same fearlessness of expression from my own
eight songs define Tim Buckley's range and beautiful, eclectic choices, whether
it be a very blues-influenced jam, typical of the early 70s singer-songwriters
(Honey Man or I Don't Need It To Rain, and the tone of his album
Greetings From L.A.), or delicately working a song around a fine folk/classical
chord structure and arrangement as in Hallucinations / Troubadour. Listen
to how Tim settles into Once I Was; it is mesmerising and resonates between
the players, whose musicianship must also be acknowledged. These
are remarkable live recordings. Tracks one and two, Dolphins and Honey
Man, were recorded for The Old Grey Whistle Test on the 21st of May
1974. The following five songs were recorded live for The John Peel Show
on the 2nd of April 1968.
of all, included on this album is a never before released recording of I Don't
Need It To Rain, a stunning twelve-minute long concert performance recorded
in Copenhagen on the 10th of December 1968.
song was found in a box of disintegrating reel-to-reels at Tim's home. It's a
great discovery and a powerful listening experience, made even more profound when
you realize, as I did, that the crowd made not one sound throughout the playing;
no clearing of throats, no movement, all of them in the bliss of real listening
and real ego-less calm.
the song Tim's wife Judy remarks: "Tim would routinely do this vocal warm-up
in concert in order to loosen up his voice, after which he would tear into his
song list at full strength".
can hear how he takes himself through the singing, like he's walking gingerly
over seaweed rocks; he guides the listener. He was a fearless and truly intimate
performer. I imagine how it would be if he were still with us, how magnificent
it would be to actually witness him sailing over grooves at Glastonbury this summer.
last Tim Buckley seems to be recognized and respected more than thirty years after
his death. We are so lucky to have the little that exists of him on record.
I said earlier, just listen
Eddi Reader is a Scottish singer/songwriter.