was lucky to know Tim Buckley from 1967 to 1975, the year
I knew him from his early hippy days to his wiser and more
jaded rocker / jazz / avant garde days. Any views here are
my own perceptions, and not necessarily the entire truth.
I loved Timmy, but was able to see some of his flaws, too.
I thought we'd always be friends and was devastated by his
untimely but not unexpected death.
first weekend I spent with Timmy, in November, 1967, he told
me he wouldn't live past 30. And he seemed to believe it.
I expected a plane crash might take him from us, because of
all his traveling. But I'm not surprised by what happened
since I knew him to sometimes be reckless and foolish.
was a wise old man and a little boy all in one package. When
he was caught in a lie, he'd look all sheepish like a little
kid. In general, he seemed to be on an emotional high wire.
have some beautiful memories of Timmy. Shuffling through the
fall leaves, holding hands, taking a long walk in the countryside.
Watching a football game, but not really watching. Carrying
his special twelve-string guitar for him before a gig, through
the woods at Swarthmore. Listening to gospel music emanating
from a church in Bryn Mawr. Sitting in the aisle with him
at the Fillmore East watching Janis Joplin perform, which
made us both high. She was amazing that night. (Bill Graham
got upset with Tim when he tuned up backstage during another
opening act, Albert King.) We shopped on Newbury Street in
Boston. He turned me on to music like Yma Sumac and Roland
Kirk. He was my touchstone and my cheerleader, although he
wasn't always cheerful.
first met when he was playing a small club in Bryn Mawr, PA
one Friday night in the fall of 1967. My friend knew his conga
player, Carter C.C. Collins, so we stopped by to say hello.
When Timmy entered the dressing room, I was shy and left,
and Timmy followed me. We took a walk and had a long talk,
and that night he took me back to Bryn Mawr College, and asked
if I would wake him up the next morning at Swarthmore College
where he was staying in one of the dorm rooms.
asked him how his son was. He began to talk about Taylor,
his adopted son, and I said, no I meant Jeffrey. Timmy
told me he hadn't seen him, but that there would be
plenty of time when Jeffrey was older...
did just that. We spent the rest of the weekend together (and
no, what you probably assume happened didn't that weekend).
I fell under his spell. Timmy had incredible charisma, and
a sweetness and vulnerability that were irresistible. He told
me he was going to pick me up in a Rambler, if my memory serves,
and take me to Mexico, which I didn't believe, of course.
loved hugging him hello after not seeing him for some time.
His warm grin, welcoming me, made me feel at home. Timmy trusted
me and knew where I was coming from, so he felt comfortable
with me. I was a lab assistant doing research in molecular
biology, and Timmy wanted to know what I was working on in
some detail. Though he was very smart, I doubt he understood
what I told him, but he was really curious.
think my favorite memory of all is Timmy sitting on a chair,
playing his guitar, singing Dylan's I'll Be Your Baby Tonight
to me with no one else around. It was incredibly sweet....
sorry I can't share all my memories here, but even after all
this time has passed, it still doesn't seem right to talk
about many private moments.
last time I was with him was around Thanksgiving, in 1974,
I believe. He called me in Boston from Phili and asked me
to come down to see him because he was feeling down. So I
changed my plans and took the train and arrived exhausted.
that visit, I asked him how his son was. He began to talk
about Taylor, his adopted son, and I said, no I meant Jeffrey.
Timmy told me he hadn't seen him, but that there would be
plenty of time when Jeffrey was older (he was around eight
at the time). I conveyed how I felt about that, letting him
know that I didn't think he should wait to get to know his
son, and left it at that. Jeffrey was on the back burner,
and I believe it was because Timmy spent so much emotional
energy handling his own life that he hadn't been able to give
Jeffrey the attention he deserved.
was on that tightrope and his focus was on not falling off.
his own father was not a good role model. Timmy told me he
was in a prison for the criminally insane, which I never believed.
Instead, I thought it was a metaphor to describe their strange
relationship. In our very first conversation, around Jeff's
first birthday, he told me he had a son, and he was thrilled
about it. So it's so sad he didn't get to know Jeff. I know
that he intended to do just that. But time was not his friend.
last time we spoke, a few months before his death, he had
just finished a European tour and said he was exhausted. I
told him to get a checkup, that he could be anemic. I asked
him what was next, meaning in his career, and he said, "cardiac
arrest". Tragically, his dark humor spoke the truth.
a mutual friend told me what happened, I couldn't believe
it. When I did, after going to the library and reading newspaper
reports, I read the books Timmy had me reading to try to understand
what he would think about his own death. Over and over, I
read Carlos Fuentes' The Death of Artemia Cruz, a book
he loved, trying to come to terms with his death somehow.
read Timmy's copy of You Can't Go Home Again, to again
try to get inside his head. And Joseph Conrad's The Heart
of Darkness. And a poet he liked, William Everson. Of
course, there were no answers there, but I feel sure that
Timmy would have had a dark sense of humor about it all.
that's how I always think about him......smiling that wonderful