To The Siren'
to the Siren" is a song written by Tim Buckley and his writing
partner Larry Beckett and 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.
Boone was the first to release a version of the song when
it was featured on his 1969 album Departure, predating Buckley's
Starsailor release. However, the song has become perhaps Buckley's
most famous due to a number of artists covering the song after
his death in 1975, most notably This Mortal Coil. It has featured
as a cover on many artists' studio albums. Background The
song was written in 1967, but Buckley was dissatisfied with
the early attempts at recording it. It would finally appear
on Starsailor three years later.
Monkees TV show version featured the song in its original
folk song style, with Buckley playing solo with a 12 string
guitar. This stands in contrast to the lusher, reverb-filled
version present on the Starsailor album. The Monkees television
spot 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 pitchedbackground vocals.
In comparison, the live version is more lo-fi, with no effects,
and Buckley's voice is accompanied only by his guitar.
1968 performance also features different lyrics with the phrase
"I am 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.
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 sirens
tempting sailors at sea stems from Greek mythology. This lyrical
style is an example of Larry Beckett's literary inspirations,
and stands in direct contrast to Buckley's own more personal
by This Mortal Coil
most prominent recording of "Song to the Siren" is by This
Mortal Coil. It was released as a single in September 1983
and spent 3 weeks on the UK Charts where it peaked at #66
on October 23, 1983. More impressive, however, was the sustained
demand for the track, the record-buying public helping the
single to spend 101 weeks on the UK Indie Charts, a run that
ranked fourth in the 1980s after three classic long-selling
records: "Bela Lugosi's Dead" by Bauhaus (131 weeks), "Blue
Monday" by New Order (186 weeks) and "Love Will Tear Us Apart"
byJoy Division (195 weeks).
to the Siren" was included on This Mortal Coil's 1984 album
It'll End in Tears which was released a year after the single.
This Mortal Coil was a collective name for a number of artists
on the 4AD Records label, with Elizabeth Fraser and Robin
Guthrie of the Cocteau Twins performing the song.
Following the release of the single by This Mortal Coil, Buckley's
work experienced a reappraisal in the mid-1980s.This
revival of interest in the artist would be one of the greatest
factors in the increase of his posthumous sales, falling second
only to the publicity generated by the success of his son,
2012, Dawn French selected this song on Desert Island Discs
as, in her words, "The song that made me fall in love again"
The version by This Mortal Coil featured on David Lynch's
1997 film Lost Highway but did not appear on the film's soundtrack
album. Lynch has stated that This Mortal Coil's version of
the song inspired the first two albums by Julee Cruise. Also,
he had previously intended to use the original version of
the song on Blue Velvet but was prevented from doing so due
to legal issues or budget limitations. It was also used in
the trailer for the 2003 remake of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre,
and in Peter Jackson's 2009 film The Lovely Bones. The cover
by Israeli singer Ivri Lider was featured in Eytan Fox's film
original Tim Buckley version also appeared in the 2006 Australian
movie Candy, as well as a cover by Paul Charlier and Paula
song has also featured in popular TV shows such as Waterloo
"Song to the Siren" has been covered over 24 times since This
Mortal Coil's version. The song was given new life in the
form of a trance remix by Lost Witness — "Did I Dream (Song
to the Siren)" peaked at #28 in the UK singles chart in 2002.
Similarly, a sample of This Mortal Coil's version was featured
prominently in Messiah's techno single "Temple of Dreams".
was also sampled by Ratty in their trance track "Sunrise"
and a cover is used as the break in a hardstyle track by Deepack
titled "Down Low".
2005 Dream Brother: The Songs of Tim and Jeff Buckley, a tribute
album of songs by both Tim Buckley and his son, Jeff Buckley,
featured a version of "Song to the Siren" by Engineers. This
cover was based upon This Mortal Coil's version of the song.
On the tribute album Sing a Song for You: Tribute to Tim Buckley,
The Czars contributed a version of the song over three minutes
longer than the original.
cover of the song was the title track of Song of the Siren:
Live in San Sebastian (Sub Pop #SP592), a 2002 live album
by Damon and Naomi with Kurihara, guitarist for the band Ghost.
"Song to the Siren" has also been covered by Robert Plant
on his 2002 album Dreamland, and as with Plant as a duet with
English tenor Alfie Boe on his 2011 album Alfie. It has also
been covered by Mercury Prize nominee Susheela Raman on her
album Salt Rain; John Frusciante on The Empyrean; former Two
Nice Girls member Laurie Freelove on her 1991 album Smells
Like Truth; Post-punk band Half Man Half Biscuit for the Peel
Sessions; Sinéad O'Connor on Music of Ireland: Welcome Home;
Alex Cooke on his 2010 release Song to the Siren; and by Bryan
Ferry of Roxy Music on his 2010 solo album, Olympia. English
Indian artist Sheila Chandra covered the song for the 2000
compilation album Gifted on Real World Records.
Jann Klose, who is a featured vocalist and guitarist in the
movie Greetings from Tim Buckley, covers "Song to the Siren"
on his 2013 album "Mosaic". "Song to the Siren" has been performed
live by numerous artists, including George Michael and David
Gray among others. Brendan Perry, of Dead Can Dance, covered
the song accompanied by Robin Guthrie, formerly of the Cocteau
Twins, on Perry's 2011 tour, then again for the Dead Can Dance
world tour 2012.