The Tim Buckley Archives

Aftermath...

The Candle Died,
Now You Are Gone,
For The Flame Was Too Bright

By Andy Childs

Less than a month after I started work at ZigZag I had the privilege of meeting Tim Buckley. I interviewed him at some length and most of what came out of that interview appeared in my articles in ZZ 44 and 48. The main biographical and historical details are there if you want to read them, and I’m not going to repeat them here because facts and figures become meaningless and inadequate when you’re talking about the music of a man who was one of contemporary music’s true originals.

I met Buckley again, a day or so after the interview at a press reception to launch the DisCreet label, and while talking to him, albeit briefly, in a more casual relaxed atmosphere, it become obvious to me that he was just about everything I thought he would be… an extremely intelligent and articulate talker with a deep-rooted love and concern for his own country, and a wonderfully clear, level-headed perspective on not only his own music, but music in general.

As much as anything else, it was his respect and appreciation for all forms of music that makes his own recorded career so diverse and outstandingly original. From his early beginnings in a country and western band, to his ‘folkie’ days with Elektra, his innovative jazz albums – Lorca and Starsailor, right through to the basic rock and soul bias of his later work. Tim Buckley applied his own standards and his own astounding vocal techniques to each style with remarkable success. Unfortunately, as is the case more often than not, the really important people, those that are truly breaking new ground, never reach the audience they deserve. Tim Buckley enjoyed no more than a cult following in this country, but for people like myself, his music was and is irreplaceable and untouchable.

Because of the range of styles he covered throughout his career, I freely admit that I find some of his music hard to appreciate and even more difficult to enjoy. Most of Lorca and Starsailor in fact is almost entirely jazz orientated – and free-form jazz at that, with very tenuous links with rock music. Nevertheless, people who seem to know more about these things than me claim that Starsailor especially is a classic of its genre, and I’m not about to argue with that.

To my mind though, Tim Buckley hit his recording peak with Happy Sad, his third album, and one that manages even today to sound fresh and original and musically inventive. No-one, not even Buckley himself, has succeeded in making an album like it since. Apart from ‘Morning Glory’ which I suppose is his most ‘famous’ and covered song, Happy Sad was the first of Buckle’s work that I listened to extensively. A perceptive and impressionable friend bought a copy at the time of it’s release as a result, believe it or not, of the review in ZigZag No.2, and we played it endlessly for months on end. For some unaccountable reason I only purchased a copy myself comparatively recently when my interest in Buckley’s work was rekindled around about the time of Sefronia, and at the moment it is deleted although it is quite likely to be re-released by Elektra in the near future.

In the light of what has happened I can’t help but recall a remark that Buckley made during the aforementioned interview. He said: “There are fewer things in my life that I want to do now, but I want to live them more intensely.” And that really is the key to Buckley’s whole life…nothing he ever did was achieved without complete and utter devotion, and as a result his music is some the most intense, demanding and accomplished of its kind.

And now that’s all we’ve got left. Tim Buckley died on 29th June and left behind him a musical heritage and many savored memories that will shine on forever.


© 1975 Childs/ZigZag


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