#55, December 1975
Candle Died, Now You Are Gone,
For The Flame Was Too Bright
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 became 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.
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
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.
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.
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 most covered song, Happy Sad was the first of Buckleys
work that I listened to exclusively. A perceptive and impressionable friend
bought a copy at the time of its release as a result, believe it or not, of the
review in ZigZag No. 2, and we played it endlessly for months on end.
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.
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 of the most intense, demanding and accomplished
of its kind.
And now that's all weve got left. Tim Buckley died on
29th June and left behind him a musical heritage and many
savoured memories that will shine on forever.
© 1975 Chils/ZigZag