Thursday, June 10, 2010

My Sweetheart, the Drunk

The handsome fellow above is one Jeff Buckley, and today is not his birthday, but since today lacked a true hero of its own, I once again decided to bring in a substitute. M. Buckley was born November 17th, 1966 in Anaheim, California. His father was the renown folk singer, Tim Buckley, but Tim was not the "stay at home, and help rear the children type of dad" and Jeff apparently only met him once (when he was 8 years old). He was raised by his mother and a step father in a "rootless trailer trash" existence in southern California. His mother was a classically trained pianist and cellist, and Jeff was brought up around music. It is his music that puts him on our hero podium for today. After bouncing from coast to coast, playing in all sorts of bands, and trying to make it big, he made his public singing debut at a tribute to his father in 1991. He sang one of his father's songs entitled "I never asked to be your Mountain," a song his father had written about the infant Jeff and his mother. After that he begin to play a few venues in New York City, Sin-e being the most famous, and it was these venues that he learned how to be a performer, and begin to attract a dedicated group of fans. He eventually got noticed, and released his first studio album, Grace, in 1994. It kicks ass, if you don't have it, go buy it, now. His cover of Leonard Cohen's song "Hallelujah" is haunting. His voice was amazing, and some of the songs will blow you away. He was that fucking good. The album received critical acclaim, but little radio play, which was a fucking shame, because the man could SING. He moved to Memphis in early 1997 to begin work on his second album which was to be called "My Sweetheart, the Drunk." Whilst waiting for his band mates to arrive, he played a dive bar in downtown Memphis (if only I had lived here then). Then on May 29th, 1997 it all went horribly wrong. He was hanging out with a friend of his near the Wolf River in downtown Memphis when he decided, on the spur of the moment, to take a swim. It was to be a fatal decision. Diving into the river fully dressed while singing "Whole Lotta of Love" by Zeppelin (Zeppelin was a huge influence on his music), a passing boat caused a wave, and he was gone. Just like that, one of the best upcoming musical talents of my generation was lost to us. His body was found June 4th, and the dream was over. His second album was cleaned up a bit, and released, and there is one song on it that is chilling. It is called "Nightmares by the Sea" and it contains the lines "stay, with me under these waves tonight, be free for once in your life tonight." Considering the way he died, those lines are pretty spooky. His death was an incredible loss to music, and I actually felt as if I had lost a friend when I learned of it. Here it is 13 years later, and I am still sad when I think about all the music he could have given to the world. It is quite depressing, but for the wonderful fucking tunes he did leave the world, and for that beautiful, haunting voice Jeff Buckley (November 17th, 1966-May 29th, 1997 at the age of 30), you are my (289th) hero of the day.

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