The Tim Buckley Archives

Articles

Unknown Magazine - 1974

Tim Buckley:
His Songs Are Sexier The Second Time Around

by Susan Ahrens

Tim Buckley has long been a member of that nebulous club of talented "underknowns" whose records fill the Village bargain bins and who always manage to make TV appearances sandwiched in between Brownsville Station and Phisohex. The name is familiar but you can't place the face. Eight years of relative anonymity can wear anybody down, but it looks like this might be the year people forget Goodbye and Hello and get into more recent stuff.

Tim Buckley started out in the hearts and flower idealism of the mid-sixties and released four, well-received albums: Tim Buckley, Goodbye and Hello, Happy/Sad, and Blue Afternoon. It was with the release of his fifth and sixth albums, Lorca and Starsailor, that he veered away from his familiar melodies and put a stronger, harsher emphasis on lyric.

Tim's explanation for 'blowing it' attempts to refute the critical beating he's taken from all over.

"I regard each album as a chapter in a book. Most people write for a business purpose, to milk a certain sound. That's all right, but I never felt that I had that much time to mess around with that sort of thing. So I tried to develop as quickly as possible to get into different moods, different ways of playing, because music is what I'm all about, not business.

“So I made it through Lorca. Finally it's me; I couldn't detect any influences. Then I know I was going to do Starsailor [the song]; Larry Beckett and I wrote the whole thing as a view of the universe through the eye of a bee. It's a great cartoon. So nothing I did was an experiment, but I guess you can put them all under an experimental category in that decade."

The sixties had a great source of songwriting inspiration that the tomfoolery of the seventies has killed off--politics.
"...all the sex symbols that had ever been in rock and roll music, from Elvis to Jagger, had never said anything dirty or constructive about making love. You could never learn anything from any of those songs..."
"At the time, it was easier to put two and two together and say, 'This is the fault.' Also Beckett and I were young and blind enough to actually believe what we were saying. It'll be another five or six years before we write something that puts that away. I don't understand what's going on and the reason why I'm working is to figure it out."

If the seventies bumped politics into an apathetic oblivion, then sex has certainly taken its place, and Buckley is basing his come-back on what goes on "down between the sheets."

"It was tremendous doing this radio show in San Francisco. These girls were calling up, there was this live thing, talk over the phone on the air. I guess the girl had only heard of one album - Greetings From L.A. - and was asking why I only wrote about sex. I cited her many songs, and she said, 'Why write about it at all?' and I told her why I even recorded Greetings.

“It was because it was so odd to me that all the sex symbols that had ever been in rock and roll music, from Elvis to Jagger, had never said anything dirty or constructive about making love. You could never learn anything from any of those songs. So I figure, talk about stretch marks, which really lays out people in Iowa

"You can't do the black lyric with any clear conscience at all, so if you're going to do a style of music, the only way to do it is to bring something new to it, but not necessarily a sitar; I mean, conception, not a gimmick. Then the people who originated the music won't hate you so much."

The new album, Look At The Fool, is another of his [funk] rockers. Unlike his previous albums, Fool will be more of a commercial venture, complete with ads and radio campaigning. Looking back on a quite varied [career] that is nearing the end of its ninth year, Buckley shakes his head and said, "I'm one of a few people that comes out with an album and it immediately becomes a collector's item. I know why they don't distribute the things; I just don't understand it..."


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