God Bless Tim Buckley Too...
first, Cohen seemed a strange sort to be Buckley's manager.
Cohen had managed, or is managing, some of the finest talent -- besides the Mothers,
Judy Henske, Fred Neil (one of Buckley's few close friends) and the Stone Poneys
-- but he is not one of the most loved men in the industry. Yet, he seemed the
perfect match for Buckley.
Anderle explains the relationship on simple, psychological terms, at the same
time clarifying Buckley's relationship with Jainie and Barry Schultz, who travels
with Buckley almost constantly. "Timmie is a man who is totally devoted to
his art, and he is incapable of doing anything else," he said. "Which
is a natural for an earth woman like Jainie. He has to be mothered. A lot. Herbie
and Barry are in the same position. Herb knows the business thing and Timmie doesn't
want to know the business thing. And Barry has a good ear and he tells Timmie
when he's good and when he is shucking. They yell at him... he needs that. So
Barry and Jainie and Herbie, by virtue of their positions, are responsible for
Timmie. He places complete faith and trust in them. They take care of him. It's
is not to say Buckley is coddled as a helpless child. "He's a loner, man,"
Anderle added. "He was placed on this earth to suffer because he can't mingle.
He's not here to turn on bunches of people, but as a chronicler." (Buckley
almost echoes this appraisal: "Being a human being is suffering. There's
pain in getting things out. Communicating can be as hard as death.")
a mirror reflecting the exhilaration and pain of living, Buckley gained an audience
slowly. The first important gig Cohen got for him was in summer 1966 at the now
legendary Night Owl in Greenwich Village, where stars like the Lovin' Spoonful
built their reputations.
was my first time in New York City and there I was in the Night Owl, singing all
my weird songs. I wasn't doing much of the old blues and country stuff anymore
and I had a lot of trouble. I couldn't teach my chords to the musicians playing
with me. It was so tough the bass player quit music after that gig and became
a critic. People liked me, I think, and the owner kept me on for a month, trying
to make up his mind."
three months he and Jainie lived on the Bowery, absorbing the flavor and hunger
of New York, and then they returned to Los Angeles to record his first album.
("I was so happy, just to get into a studio!") The album was released
in October, 1966, and Elektra was honest in its appraisal, part of Buckley's "official"
biography: "It was a lovely album -- albeit not a great album -- with several
cuts of surpassing beauty, and it has sold nicely... expanding its modest momentum
each week of its life."
1967, he was working almost constantly, although until his
second album, Goodbye and Hello, was released in September,
he always was second- or third-billed. Elektra helped promote
that album by buying billboard space on the Sunset Strip,
not an unusual practice then, but unexpected for a single
artist with a modest following and sales.
was worth the notice, for Buckley had improved his "product"
enormously. His lyrics, several written with poet Larry Beckett
(who helped Buckley write many songs in the first album),
progressed from sophomoric half-verses to better-than-acceptable
I Can't See You, they wrote "Winter harlot, moontime lover/Don't
keep your feelings under cover" and in It Happens Every Time,
Buckley wrote the trite "Your lovin' makes me feel so fine."
The songs weren't awful, merely lopsided; the melodies were exceptional. The imbalance
was corrected in time and the lyric quality came up to the melody, as shown in
Buckley's Phantasmagoria in Two:
a fiddler played you a song, my love
And if I gave you a wheel
spin for my heart and loneliness
Would you spin for my love
this second album Buckley also added a fine group of musicians, among them Jim
Fielder, an old high school chum who had been with the Buffalo Springfield and
now is playing bass with Blood, Sweat and Tears; Lee Underwood on guitar and Carter
(C.C.) Collins on conga drum, both of whom had played with him in clubs. It made
for a tighter, fuller sound, what Buckley wanted (and needed) then.
week the album was released Buckley went into New York's Café Au Go-Go
with star billing for the first time; and then into the Troubadour in Los Angeles,
also as a headliner. Then he was off to Europe to play in Copenhagen, London and
continued to experiment. One
week he'd appear with a band, the next as a single again. "We were writing
9/8 things," he said. "Cycles in 11/4, 12/4 and 13/4. I was writing
with Carter and that was different. We had all those different rhythms going.
African Bahama type sing-song music. The San Francisco sound was getting louder
and louder and it didn't get rhythmic; it was still in 4/4 time. Hendrix has done
some beautiful things; Clapton, too. But why do it over again? It's been done
to the loudest, fullest, most intricate extent. It's time for something else.
was total all-out war the first three songs of each set when we played together,"
he said of his sometimes-band, "and then we got it together and we were so
strong. It's different when you play alone. It's cool. Then when you play with
somebody else it opens something up, and that's cool too. It ain't necessary to
have a band, though -- not if you've enough together to make the right sound.
believe a lot of things I've done, I did it too soon. Personally I didn't understand
the songs. They were all right as songs, but my voice wasn't right or I wasn't
playing guitar right. It really used to bother me. My ideas were ahead of my skill.
They still are, but now I know it comes in time."
had been talking almost nonstop for four hours, when, for no reason, conversation
stopped. It made me nervous until I recalled what David Anderle once told me.
"I remember when I'd had a bad day at the office," Anderle had said,
"and Timmie called. He wanted to know what I was doing and I said I was just
going through a bad day. Timmie said come down to the beach and watch the sun
go down. I left the office immediately. We sat on the beach for a long time, next
to the water. We didn't say anything much: He eliminated all the trivia, all the
things that get you down, just being there. It was just Timmie and me and the
like "therapy," Anderle told me, and all you have to do to cut yourself
in on it is listen to Buckley sing or spend time with him. And I also recalled
Jac Holzman, Elektra's president, talking about his first hearing of a demonstration-record
Buckley made: "I didn't have to play the demo more than once, but I think
I must have listened to it at least twice a day for a week. Whenever anything
was bringing me down, I'd run for Buckley. It was a restorative." As Anderle
says: "Timmie's so incredibly important now. He'll help people relax. He
gives people a chance to be themselves. He doesn't take them into his thing. He
allows them to go into their thing."
sat in the motel room for another hour or so. Just sitting
around. It was like getting high. Totally relaxed. Barry Schultz
and Jainie were there, and occasionally we talked of dreams.