The Tim Buckley Archives

The Fans

Morning Glory Psychobabble

by Jack Brolly

The song Morning Glory is Tim Buckley's most covered song. It has been recorded by Linda Ronstadt, Blood Sweat and Tears, This Mortal Coil, Fairport Convention, and Chrissie Hynde. It was Tim's first popular song, but what does it mean?

The most complicated lyrics are "And he stood before my fleeting house". We all wonder what Tim and Larry meant by the fleeting house. Tim sang Morning Glory all six times that I saw him perform. The song appears on the Goodbye And Hello, Dream Letter,and The Peel Sessions recordings. Tim must have sung that song a thousand times. I think it meant something more to him than meets the eye. My take on this is that the house in question was a metaphor for either success, good fortune, or fame.

If you imagine that the first person narrator of the song (I) represents an avid fan, and the hobo is a metaphor for a hippie singer/songwriter, then it might be easier to follow my line of thought here. Tim and Larry might have been making a statement about how short-lived(or fleeting) fame can be. In the mid-sixties Andy Warhol said that everyone at sometime or other in his or her lifetime would achieve fifteen minutes of fame. He was simply pointing out that fame is fleeting for most people. I think that later,Tim saw himself as the hobo, and just like the hobo, Tim wanted no part of the adulation that comes with fame. He couldn't come into the fleeting house because it was too high a climb.

Did Tim feel that you had to give up too much of yourself and your freedom to grow as an artist once you achieved pop stardom, which after all, would probably only last a short while? In the song, the avid fan called out for the hobo to tell more stories...stories of old. He smiled and even knelt to the hobo. However, when the hobo said no, the adoring fan changed his attitude. He cursed the hobo and told him to go away.

"The morning glory plant grows to twenty feet in height. It's flowers range in color from purple through blue and pink, with heart-shaped green leaves. The flowers open in the morning and last for only a few hours..."

Is this what both Tim and Larry believed, or did they inadvertantly predict what was going to happen to Tim? Remember, fresh in their minds in 1966 was all the attention that fans and the media gave to groups like the Beach Boys, who's fans did abandon them for a while once flower power and psychedelic music arrived upon the music scene.

They also saw the adulation that was being bestowed upon the musical poets of the sixties. A lot of people were already touting Tim as the next Bob Dylan. If you listen to the banter and the wisecracks and the small talk that transpired in-between a lot of the songs Tim performed live when he was the toast of the town, you might come away with the impression that Tim didn't respect his audience.

It was almost laughable to him that people were taking him so seriously, and that they would hang on his every word the way they did. It might have frightened him a little or maybe even a lot. It later became clear to me - when he released Lorca and followed it with Starsailor - that Tim Buckley was trying to avoid pop culture notoriety. I actually saw Tim being booed off the stage once. He seemed to be thumbing his nose at his audience and walking away from that fleeting house.

© Jack Brolly 9/17/99

Jack Brolly is a photographer and videographer who lives and works in New York.
He is also the founder of several Tim Buckley wbsites, including:
timbuckleyandfriends.com and Room 109


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