The Tim Buckley Archives


Went to see the Gypsy

by Mark Fogarty

Tim Buckley, late, lamented father of the late, lamented Jeff Buckley ended his short musical days sling R&B hash in payday roadhouses to just as Jimbo imagined the Doors would do. Tim traveled far in his short career of less than a decade, going from dreamy hippy balladering (Song For Jainie, the memorable Goodbye and Hello, many others) to dull, blaring R&B dross.

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Favorite father and son team

Tim Buckley snagged my attention in the late 1960s with an astonishing album and song Goodbye and Hello, beautiful moody apocalyptic acid-folk that followed an underappreciated more-of-the-same debut Tim Buckley. (Song for Jainie from Tim’s first record remains one of my favorite hippie songs.)

Back when Vietnam War movies on TV Shows (China Beach) were the rage, you could often hear Tim’s Viet commentary No Man Can Find The War playing on the soundtrack. Tim had a poetic sensibility (although his lyrics were often contributed by a writing partner, Larry Beckett) and a gorgeous baritone voice with a tenor range that would make you stop and listen.

He probably could have worked the poetic troubadour routing for the next four decades, but the musically adventurous Tim began to wander, first to the jazzy blues of Blue Afternoon and then to the Coltrane-crazy jazz explorations of Starsailor, an album I admire the heck out of but find very hard to listen to.

His live performances could be abrupt (he had a tendency to walk off if provoked or drunk) but were magical if you caught him right. (Check out Dream Letter, a live from London CD put out a few years back that catches him at an absolute high tide).

Tim’s later years saw yet another change, to road warrior R&B and a couple of rather forgettable drudgy rock albums. Sefronia is the only title that comes to mind, but there were a couple of others. Drugs got in his way and his habit of staying clean on the road and loading up while not caught up with him in a harrowing overdose that killed him at the 60’s-victims age of 27 or 28.

One of the things Tim left behind besides his legend and his fine music was a son, Jeff Buckley, who when he grew up bore his fathers look, voice and manner.

Jeff Buckley had an even purer tenor than Dad’s and he was marked for greatness from his first appearances in New York bars like Sin-e (You can often here Jeff’s tenor on TV soundtracks when they use his haunt-y version of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah) His great 1990’s debut album Grace made several records of the century lists, and features back cover photo of him in a stairwell where he appears to be floating!

Unfortunately gravity and destiny conspired against him and while recording in Memphis Jeff had a misadventure. He walked into the Mississippi river clothes on and drowned in the Father of Waters. He was thirty years old. Boy, if you could ask for one back, you’d ask for Jeff Buckley back

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WENT TO SEE THE GYPSY is a account of rock’s golden age, told by a writer who has been fascinated by its music and musicians since the Beatles invaded America. You will find in its pages memories and assessments of all of the greatest rock bands, including the Beatles, the Stones, the Who, U2, the Doors, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Bob Dylan and the Band, AC/DC, Cream, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, the Jimi Hendrix Experience, and many others.

US Publisher: (July 29, 2008)

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