newly released Buckley demos are fascinating. It's great to
hear unadorned takes of songs from Goodbye and Hello, especially
since some say that album's elaborate production hasn't aged
I sort of take exception to that, because I think what's happened
is that there was sort of a critical cliche about Goodbye
and Hello, that it was overdone in terms of orchestration
and "of its time." And that point of view prevailed through
the '90s. But then, slowly, in the aughts, positive reviews
of it started to crop up, where they said, "No, this isn't
over-orchestrated at all, it's just itself, and it's very
strong." Maybe his strongest album, in terms of all aspects:
vocalization, lyrics, and arrangement.
a look at "Hallucinations"—which I think, actually, [Bob]
Dylan, for "Political World," stole the opening of. Because
we know he knows all things.
and steals from all things!
steals from everything. If you listen to the opening of "Hallucinations,"
and listen to the opening of "Political World," you think,
"OK, I get this. He played this for [producer] Daniel Lanois,
and said, 'That's what I want it to sound like.'" So, that's
huge. And that's not dated—that's, now, an influence on future
music. So, I think the critical current has started to run
the other way. When I listen to Goodbye and Hello, I don't
feel any of the criticisms about it. I mean, I don't particularly
like my lyrics, and that's all—everything else, I love.
is it about your lyrics that you second-guess today?
the thing is, I've had—the hard realization to come to is
that, when Tim and I started working together, he was a master
musician, in terms of world culture. I mean, he had absorbed
all different kinds of music, and could perform them all brilliantly.
And I was just kind of a Podunk, starting-out poet. I was
not anywhere near in his class. I've done everything I can
to catch up to him, in the interim. But by the time I started
really writing stuff that could even be kept on a level with
his performing and his writing, he was dead. So that was the
end of that.
suggested that we write songs, because Lennon and McCartney,
well, they were [doing so].
It was kind of a new thing to write songs, and then
do you remember about first meeting Buckley in high school?
that was [bassist] Jim Fielder's organization. He said, "You've
gotta meet Buckley." He knew Buckley in one class that he
had—I think, gym class—and he knew me because we were in the
accelerated "genius" classes in high school. And he said,
"You know what? I don't know why, but I think that you should
meet Tim Buckley. You guys, I don't know what it is, but you
need to meet him."
he arranged for us to meet, as seniors in high school. And
Tim was, at that point, doing only old folk songs, like "Geordie,"
in high school concerts. So, there was a huge chemistry between
him and me. Immediately! For one thing, he thought I was hysterically
funny. I may be funny, but the things I had to say were just
the things he wanted to hear. I was an intellectual and a
rebel, and well-read, and I was off the wall, as I still am.
And he never knew what I was going to say next, and just couldn't
And also, the real chemistry between us, that I talk about
in my essay on "Song to the Siren," is that we were polar
opposites. He was completely of impulse and emotion, and sensuality.
And I was order, and culture, and reflection. So he actually
needed what I had, and I really needed what he had. And I
don't think either one of us knew that consciously. But unconsciously,
we figured it out. Then, I suggested that we write songs,
because Lennon and McCartney, well, they were [doing so].
It was kind of a new thing to write songs, and then sing 'em.
the '50s, like, Elvis didn't write anything. Buddy Holly was
an anomaly. The main bands sang covers, written by professional
songwriters. But Dylan and the Beatles changed all that, and
so it put the bee in our bonnets, you know? So we thought
we would try, and I think our very first song was "Call Me
If You Do," which appears in the Orange County demo on the
 reissue of his first album. And it was kind of a Lennon-McCartney
arrangement, in that when I would come up with something lyrically,
then he would try to come up with his own lyrics, too. That's
why you see that about half the lyrics [on the demos collection]
are written by him. But they're almost in contention with
mine: "Can I write something like that? Can I do that?" So
I helped inspire him, creatively.
As you continued to work together, working toward the material
for Goodbye and Hello, was there a sense you were improving,
building on the work you'd already done?
No. The thing is, you would have to have paid attention to
anyone's reaction to the first album, which we completely
ignored. We had no idea of even where you would go to find
out what sales were, or what reviews were. We were just living
down at the beach, making more music—we couldn't care less.
We were completely out of "the business," to the greater or
lesser distress of the people who were funding the whole project.
But we never, ever thought about it. We never knew, in our
whole lives, how many units sold, or where it was on the charts,
or what anybody had ever written about it. We were only interested
in, "What is the next project like?" Like, Tim would say,
"I've been listening to this mad Moroccan street music. Here,
I brought the album over, somebody gave it to me."
we'd listen to it, then he'd leave, and over the next few
days, I'd write the words to "Hallucinations," and then we'd
meet again, and I'd give him the lyrics, and we'd meet again,
and he had incorporated the Moroccan street music into "Hallucinations,"
because it was what he was obsessed by at the moment, musically,
with whatever lyrics, and the lyrics actually seemed to work
with it. So, that's what we were paying attention to. We learned
did you have a sense of improvement, though? That you were
getting better at your craft, or your collaboration?
I will say this, and I feel a little embarrassed to talk about
it, and that is, in answer to your question, no. We were so
focused on the next piece, and it was happening really fast.
You know, a lot of songs. There were hundreds of songs we
had written before the first album, that were all lost. Or
many of them were lost, some of them survive on the reissue
of Tim Buckley. But there were many others. Really prolific
songwriters, between the two of us. And so, in that flood,
it's hard to distinguish what the direction is, whether the
quality is increasing. We just let it happen. But I will say
that we were both deeply impressed by Revolver, by the Beatles,
and by Blonde on Blonde, by Dylan, especially. And we saw
them as breaking away from pop music. Breaking pop music away
from pop music, and putting it more into the world of high
art—as if there's a high and a low, but that's the way our
culture looks at it.
I had the idea of, after Tim Buckley, doing something really
ambitious, where we would get complete creative control over
the project. Where we would select the tracks, and their orchestration.
Where we would make a concerted effort to write poetry and
magnificent new music, and have something emblematic, like
Revolver and Blonde on Blonde. Something aspiring to art.
And Tim said, "OK, let's do that." We can do that.
to your credit, it doesn't sound anything like either of those
albums. But the intention is there.
that's right—the ambition is there. I mean, God bless us if
we could ever [sound anything] like Lennon and McCartney!