So Real

Nothing creates a legend more in the world of entertainment than dying young.  Witness James Dean, Jim Morrison, and Heath Ledger, just to name a few.

Some of these, such as the aforementioned, are such well-known mainstream performers that their legends are hard to escape.  A movie star or rock star never dies, so to speak.

But then there are the “cult” figures, admired by a select few who champion the cause whenever possible. 

A musician like Nick Drake comes to mind.  A fantastic talent who passed away at age 26 over 30 years ago, his star has risen in the last few years in no small part to dedicated fans’ work in providing exposure to the music in key spots such as Volkswagen ads or the Garden State soundtrack.

And then there are the Buckleys, a father-and-son duo who, in their own unique way, define the cult mystique. 

Tim Buckley, a musician with a career defined by a meteoric rise and fall and whose sound can only be properly described as avant-garde, passes away in 1975 at age 28 after a heroin overdose.

Tim Buckley

Tim Buckley

And his biological son, Jeff Buckley, working on a follow-up to his brilliant debut album, wades into the Wolf River Harbor in Memphis, TN and drowns at age 30 in 1997.

Jeff Buckley

Jeff Buckley

Both father and son maintain their avid fans to this day.

Therefore, it is hardly a surprise that a rock journalist like David Browne would craft a biography (the excellent Dream Brother: The Lives & Music of Jeff and Tim Buckley) to capture the Buckley story.  And not a surprise that Mary Guibert, mother of Jeff, would entertain notions of a Hollywood biopic.

What can get lost in the mystique, however, is the music. 

I beg you to check out Jeff Buckley’s Grace, if you do not own it already.  There is not a dud in the bunch.  One of the reasons that this stands as his only official studio release is due to the meticulous nature of his recording and the ridiculously high standards to which he held his career.

Jeff Buckley's "Grace"

Jeff Buckley's "Grace"

What ultimately became his second (posthumous) release, Sketches For My Sweetheart The Drunk, is far superior to the mixed feelings that Buckley had regarding this project.

And, Live At Sin-é, an early EP later re-issued in deluxe format, captures Buckley at a formative time in his career and highlights his live stage presence as well as his ability to transform and interpret selections from his musical influences.

As for Tim Buckley, more prodigious in musical output than his son, the compilation The Best of Tim Buckley provides the best overview of his unique swirl of folk, jazz, rock, and pyschedelia.

It will be fascinating to see if the Buckley story makes it to the big screen.  Guibert is insisting on executive control, which should ensure that it will either be of the highest quality or shelved forever. 

In the meantime, I’ll be checking out the new book A Pure Drop: The Life Of Jeff Buckley, delivered by Australian rock biographer Jeff Apter.  You can get a sneak peek at the book by reading the entire first chapter here.

And, in the end, it’s all about the music.  Leave it to YouTube to offer the best options for a glimpse at the definitive of version of Hallelujah or the epic sound of So Real

Check these out along with the rest of the Buckley catalogues to better understand what all the fuss is about.

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~ by acm213 on March 4, 2009.

One Response to “So Real”

  1. […] the Buckley Family Tree First came the father, then came the son.  We have discussed the history of Tim & Jeff Buckley in the past and now comes a timely re-release of a classic Tim Buckley concert appearance. Tim […]

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