The Tim Buckley Archives



Tim Buckley : "...the exception to the rule..."

By Chrissie Hynde

Tim came out of the West Coast, the whole hippy thing, and really struck a chord. I've been a fan since Happy/Sad. It was the summer of 1969, my first term at Kent State University. Things were so different then. Stars didn't have the hype and exposure they do now : there was no Tim Buckley scene, you just happened to like someone, and I loved him. It colored that summer for me, I listened to it endlessly. I couldn't recommend an album more for listening to in the summer. The very thought of it makes me think of a breeze passing through a curtain.

Put Happy/Sad on now and it sounds like it could've been made last year. It has a unique, timeless sound and feel, and that voice was unlike anyone else's. A lot of people can sing their arses off but they don't sound remarkable, while others sound beautiful but stumble along. He had the lot. He sung from the right place, not just from the heart, but from the diaphragm too.

I generally don't like fusion, though Tim was the exception to the rule. He was all-round fusion : you couldn't say what he was really doing, because he wasn't rock, or folk, or jazz... I was quite shocked when I heard Greetings From LA, with stuff like "get on top of me woman" -- the same way as when I expected Marc Bolan to be this little elf but got a guy in green lame.

When I interviewed Tim in 1974, I had no idea what to say. I hadn't done the right journalistic thing and listened to his whole catalogue : I was still a smitten fan from that summer, going about my merry way. He struck me like a vagabond, a minstrel, quiet and shy. I didn't know him well enough to say, "What's happening, Tim, how's it going?" If anything, I was starstruck. I kept looking at his throat, thinking about his voice, thinking that he was just sitting there but could break into song at any given moment and transport me somewhere. Not that you'd say, "Sing us a tune". You treat them like you're handling a very valuable violin.

It was a year before he died. He didn't seem like a happy-go-lucky kind of person, more of a troubled individual, but knowing his music to be so sensitive and deep, that's the kind of personality you'd expect.

What I tried conjuring up in that NME piece was this : I'm standing there at night, in Kent, Ohio, and a freight train goes by. This girl jumps on, and writes her name on the train, and jumps off again. That was my image of him -- that traveling vagabond, the minstrel.

1969 was the Jack Kerouac moment for me.

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