The Tim Buckley Archives

Film and Television

Television - The Monkees

Song to the Siren - written by Tim Buckley and his writing partner Larry Beckett - was first released on Buckley's 1970 album Starsailor. It was also later released on Morning Glory: The Tim Buckley Anthology, the album featuring a performance of the song taken from the final episode of The Monkees TV show which aired on March 25, 1968.

The song was written in 1967 but Buckley was dissatisfied with the early attempts at recording the song. It would finally appear on Starsailor three years later. The Monkees TV show version featured the song in its original folk song style, with Buckley playing solo with a twelve-string guitar. This stands in contrast to the lusher, reverb-filled version present on the Starsailor album.

The Monkees TV show appearance features the song in the key of E, while the later album version is played in Bb. The album version also features heavy reverb on the electric guitar and high pitched background vocals. In comparison, the live version is more lo-fi, with no effects, and Buckley's voice is accompanied only by his guitar.

"I brought him my copy of the lyrics and put them in front of him while he was eating breakfast. There was a pause, he looked at them, picked up his 12-string guitar, and more or less played the song you hear. There were three or four of us around the table in complete amazement that something so beautiful could be born as we sat there." -- Larry Beckett

The 1968 performance also features different lyrics with the phrase "I'm as puzzled as the oyster" later being changed to "I'm as puzzled as the new born child" in the album version. This was reportedly because when Buckley played the song to Judy Henske, wife of then producer Jerry Yester, she responded to the line with laughter.

Despite this, Buckley and Beckett regarded this song as their greatest collaboration effort, with Beckett later stating "It's a perfect match of melody and lyrics. There was some kind of uncanny connection between us."

The song's reference to the siren tempting sailors at sea stems from Greek mythology, notably used in Homer's epic Odyssey. The siren is a mythical half-woman-half-bird creature which uses its beautiful voice to distract seamen and scupper their ships.

This lyrical style is an example of Larry Beckett's literary inspirations, and stands in direct contrast to Buckley's own more personal writing style.

Source - Wikipedia

This perfomance can be seen in it's entirety
on MVDvisual's 2007 DVD Tim Buckley - My Fleeting House.

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