Jeff Buckley

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Jeff Buckley (November 17, 1966 – May 29, 1997), also known as "Scotty Moorhead", was an American singer-songwriter.


From Interviews[edit]

  • Everything I ever projected New York to be, it was—even the stinky, ratty, vomity part of it. Everybody has to do the subway. Everybody has to smell the same smells. And people get mad all the time. When people don’t like something, like ‘Get out of my way you blah, blah, blah.’ But [in L.A.] it’s like, ‘How ya doing? Let’s do lunch! I love you!’
    • KCRW – Man In The Moon (January 4, 1994)

RR: Whenever I've seen you play here in New York at Sin-é or Fez, people sit there mesmerized.

JB: People weren't into it at first. I had to fight to be heard. Then I had to stop fighting. Whole months would go by where people would just be talking. I even got a headache from a performance one time.

RR: What changed?

JB: I learned how to use everything in the room as the music. A tune has to resonate with whatever is happening around it. So if people are talking, I let them talk. That just means they're part of the music. I even had to learn the noise the dishwasher makes at this little cafe; I had to play in B-flat, or it wouldn't sound right.

RR: I want to talk about another Michael. I read a review that compared your recent EP, Live at Sin-é, with Michael Bolton's new record.

JB: Oh, my God! Oh, shit, that's really disgusting!

RR: It gets worse. They said he has succeeded in taking from the tradition of African American soul and blues singers in a way that you have miserably failed.

JB: Really? But the thing is, I'm not taking from that tradition. I don't want to be black. Michael Bolton desperately wants to be black, black, black. He also sucks.

AV: You grew up in Riverside, California, what was that like?

JB: From womb to tomb, it's thug country. I'm amazed that I had any friends at all. People grow up repressed from the spirit, day by day by day. Cable TV, it's fucked. It's misogyny, it's birth, death, work, it's misery, it's power. It's fuckin' hicks. And that's what I grew up with. I was rootless trailer trash. Now I prefer the Lower East Side to any place on the planet. I can be who I am here. I couldn't do it anyplace I lived as a child. I never fit in California, even though my roots are there.

  • Why do they always show Christ up there bleeding and dying on the cross? We don't remember John Lennon lying there with a bullet hole in his head. I'm against the arbitrary organization of 'God' as a concept. We should all experience it all individually and purely. I don't agree with the separation of God and the body, I don't believe that we aren't a part of 'it', I don't agree that it's a man. In most religions there's no place for women. There aren't any women in the Holy Trinity and I need that. I love women, I came from a woman.
    • B-Side Magazine, October/November 1994

YCDW: What are some of your favorite black and white movies?

JB: Lets see, On the Waterfront, Street Of Crocodiles, Brothers Quay films, American Milan, and Notorious—which I absolutely adore.

YCDW: What kind of music are you listening to now when you get a chance?

JB: Well, today I did James Brown's 'Live In Paris' and then I did 'Trompe le Monde' by the Pixies. It really depends on what I have with me. I carry Patti Smith with me. Anything with soul for the moment to it. We stopped at a truck stop and got Truck Stop Comedy and Judas Priest's 'Unleashed in the East.'

YCDW: Do you have any favorite perfumes or scents?

JB: I like essential oils a lot. Tunisian sandalwood and myrrh are my current favorites.

    • You Could Do Worse Zine, #3
  • Dylan and Leonard Cohen and Patti Smith, all dark, all romantic. When I say "romantic," I mean a sensibility that sees everything, and has to express everything, and still doesn't know what the fuck it is, it hurts that bad. It just madly tries to speak whatever it feels, and that can mean vast things. That sort of mentality can turn a sun-kissed orange into a flaming meteorite, and make it sound like that in a song.
    • Double Take (February 29, 1996)

"This is a song about, it's and angry song. Life is too short and too complicated for people behind desks and people behind masks to be ruining other peoples lives, initiating force against other peoples lives on the basis of their income, their color, their class, their religious beliefs, their whatever. Aaahh"

From Live in Chicago DVD[edit]

  • Fuck off! Just fuck off!
    • (in response to an audience member yelling "Tim Buckley." Jeff followed "fuck off" by adding, "the 60's are bullshit, the 70's almost big big bullshit, 80's... I don't even need to tell you, except for The Smiths maybe. Get out of it! Just get out of it! Shit's happening now, it's all about now, now now now. Bigger, faster, sweatier, skinnier, whiter, blacker, Gracer". Then Jeff goes into playing his song 'Grace'. )

From Grace EPK (Electronic Press Kit)[edit]

  • That’s what I wanted to do. You know, 2 hours. It’s like long-distance running or playing in a football game when you totally run out of steam and the moves you make after you run out of steam, because you’re totally unselfconscious, you’re not even thinking about the mechanics anymore. The moves you make then are incredible.
  • The only goal is in the process. The process is the thing…with little flashes of light here and there. Those are the gigs, those are the live shows. But it’s the life in between—that’s all I got.
  • And what do I want people to get from the music? Whatever they want. Whatever you like. Somebody asked me what I wanted to do. I just said I wanted to…just to give back to it what it’s given me. And to meet all the other people that are doing it…just to be in the world, really.
  • Interviewer: "So Jeff, what are your main musical influences?" Jeff (after a long pause): "Love, anger, depression, joy and dreams. ...And Zeppelin. Totally."

About Jeff Buckley[edit]

  • Technically he was the best singer that appeared, that had appeared, probably, I'm not being too liberal about this if I say in two decades. I started to play Grace constantly, constantly and the more, the more I listened to the album, the more, the more I heard -- the more I appreciated of Jeff and Jeff's talents and Jeff's total ability to which he was just a wizard and it was close to being my favorite album of the decade. We actually made a point of going to hear him play and seeing and it was absolutely scary. One of the things is a little frightening was that I was convinced that he probably did things in tunings and he didn't. He was doing things in standard tuning. I thought, oh gee he really is clever isn't he ? He quite clearly had his feet on the ground and he said his imagination was flying, flying way, way out there, beyond, beyond. Jeff Buckley was one of the greatest losses of all.
    • Jimmy Page – Guitarist from Led Zeppelin/The Yardbirds/solo from the BBC Documentary "Everybody Here Wants You"

  • The album that I've been listening to for the last 18 months is Grace by Jeff Buckley. He is a great, great singer. He has such an emotional range, doing songs by Benjamin Britten and Leonard Cohen as well as his own - such technique and command. When the Page/Plant tour hit Australia, we saw them and we were knocked out. It was very moving. Someone heckled him from the audience - 'Stop playing that heavy stuff!' - but he made the perfect reply: 'Music should be like making love - sometimes you want it soft and tender, other times you want it hard and aggressive.' I felt he paid us a great compliment with his music in that style.
    • Jimmy Page – Guitarist from Led Zeppelin/The Yardbirds/solo from Mojo Magazine, January 1997

  • He quite clearly had his feet on the ground and his head and his imagination was flying way, way out there, beyond, beyond.
    • Jimmy Page – Guitarist from Led Zeppelin/The Yardbirds/solo from the BBC Documentary "Everybody Here Wants You"

  • We were talking earlier about lyrics and beautiful lyrics. That particular period that we've been dwelling upon this evening, partly and in fact definitely was a time for prolific writing. Recently, not too long ago we lost one of the better, most beautiful caucasian singers, Jeff Buckley, sadly, way, way out to lose such a talent and such a heart.
    • Robert Plant Singer from Led Zeppelin/The Honeydrippers/Page & Plant/Strange Sensation, Band of Joy/solo from VH1 Storytellers, June 2002

  • You mentioned two spectacular vocalists there (Jeff Buckley and Freddie Mercury) I mean, both of whom had much better chops than me. I mean real great, great singers. Jeff Buckley's voice. I was playing with Jimmy in the mid 90s when we were working with an Egyptian ensemble and we played a festival in Switzerland and Jeff Buckley was playing and we went to see him and it was mind altering, his voice. Spectacular singing and so much conviction.
    • Robert Plant Singer from Led Zeppelin/The Honeydrippers/Page & Plant/Strange Sensation, Band of Joy/solo from Q TV, October 2010

  • On the subject of dedication to a craft in addition talent, I was and especially the singing, were so original, so powerful, and so accomplished, that the tragedy of his loss, after making only the one record (though a flood of demos and live recordings was released in his wake), seemed ever more poignant. It was clear to me that Jeff Buckley had been one of the few Great Ones, a one-in-a-billion talent, a true voice of his generation, and at thirty, he had hardly begun. Whatever is left behind in the passing of a rare talent, so much is always lost.
    • Neil Peart drummer from Rush from the book, Traveling Music: Play Back the Soundtrack to My Life and Times.

  • Jeff was somebody who would have been one of those people that influenced other singers. He was an amazing singer. I had an idea of what his music meant to people, because he did this amazing thing in such a short period of time. He's going to be the most important artist to so many people throughout their lives. We were really good friends, and as an individual he was different from any other friend I've had. I was looking forward to a long friendship with him. As an artist he was one of the few people, that really inspired me. I was counting on him, to be one of the persons, who would pressure me to move my limits, in many years to come. It's very important to have this kind of challenge, someone, who inspires you to grow with the challenge. That push, to get you to do new things, is very healthy, and Jeff was one of those people, who inspired you to expand your way of thinking, about yourself and music.

  • He could have literally been doing anything, musically, that he wanted to do. And I would think of it like I would think of it like Jimi Hendrix, where there's no real way to predict it, because he could have done anything. He had a way of playing the most beautiful songs you've ever heard and singing them, and still with the way that he sang, create a bit of an uncomfortable edge to it if he felt like it. And he did that mostly with his voice.
    • Chris Cornell – Singer/Guitarist from Soundgarden/Audioslave/Temple of the Dog/solo from NBC Edgewise Tribute on MSNBC from 1997.

  • Kurt was fairly quiet and introverted most of the time. Jeff was the opposite. He was very much full of life and had a lot to say. He was somebody in love with experiencing everything. Within a very short time, he had all these famous old rock stars coming to his shows, which put a lot of pressure on him. People talked about his concerts the way they used to talk about Hendrix. They'd sit there, wide-eyed, telling you stories about him. He definitely had an aura. It's impossible to say what it is exactly a guy like that has, that is so attractive to other people. But he had more of it than anyone I had ever met.
    • Chris Cornell – Singer/Guitarist from Soundgarden/Audioslave/Temple of the Dog/solo

  • Soundgarden frontman Chris Cornell, who was a friend of Buckley’s, says he possessed a star quality.

"What made him that person? I have no idea. But he was that person," he recalls.

"He was this amazing, unique kind of spirit that everyone was kind of drawn to. He had that quality that superstars have. But he unfortunately didn't live long enough for that to be exposed to everyone."

    • Chris Cornell – Singer/Guitarist from Soundgarden/Audioslave/Temple of the Dog/solo

  • Both songs are beautiful (Lilac Wine, James Shelton, and Corpus Christi Carol by Benjamin Britten). It's my tribute to Jeff. The record he has left is very emotional, very beautiful. An intriguing work, challenging. Using only his voice, he reaches regions (of) unimaginable feeling. But, while recording the songs he chose for himself, I am not stealing it because they are two very different visions. I think he would approve. I have the impression that Jeff Buckley, although he had a very brief passage through life, has become something like Jimi Hendrix, whose presence remains forever.
    • Jeff Beck Guitarist from The Yardbirds/The Jeff Beck Group/The Honeydrippers/Beck. Bogert & Appice/Stevie Ray Vaughan/Big Town Playboys/Upp/Eric Clapton[specific citation needed]

  • I think the Jeff Buckley record, Grace,'s on my MP3 player (laughs). And it holds up incredibly well.
    • David Byrne Singer/Guitarist from Talking Heads from Top 100 Greatest Music Albums by Channel 4 (2005)

  • People my age all flocked to see Jeff, you know. Because we were so, just to hear that voice again. He would have been so pissed off with it by now. All these old toothless hags hanging around the stage door you know. He was just shit hot, I gotta say.

  • Jeff Buckley was a pure drop in an ocean of noise.
    • Bono of U2 from Mojo Magazine, August 1997

  • I hope that people who liked him resist the temptation to turn his life and death into some dumb romantic fantasy--he was so much better than that. Not everyone can get up and sing something they take a liking to and make it their own, sing true to their heart and be curious about all different strains of music. Corpus Christi Carol was a completely conceived interpretation. I'd never heard the piece before and when I heard the original I realised what Jeff had done was even more amazing. He'd taken it into his own world. That's something my favorite classical musicians can do, be themselves but use all that expertise to make the music more beautiful. Jeff did that naturally. Only a handful of people are capable of that. I was amazed when he did meltdown. I asked him what he wanted to sing and he said he'd like to do one of Mahler's Kindertotenlieder in the original German! Absolutely fucking fearless. He was convinced he could sing it without rehearsal, just because he liked it. In the end he did a Purcell song, Dido's Lament, which is in danger of sounding incredibly poignant in retrospect: 'Remember me but forget my fate'. But he also sang Boy With the Thorn In His Side because he liked it, and Grace to show something of himself. When he started singing Dido's Lament at the rehearsal, there were all these classical musicians who could not believe it. Here's a guy shuffling up on-stage and singing a piece of music normally thought to be the property of certain types of specifically developed voice, and he's just singing, not doing it like a party piece, but doing something with it. My last memory of him was at the little party in the green room afterwards. There were all these people sitting round Jeff who'd never met before - Fretwork, the viol group, a classical pianist and some jazz player --all talking and laughing about music. He'd charmed everybody. I'd much rather remember that than anything.

  • Coming up next is Jeff Buckley. A guy who is not only a great singer and a great player, but at one time was a very nice hotel manager. A lot of people don't realize this, but in about 1985-86, he used to work at the front desk at the Magic Hotel in Los Angeles. And I know because it was a real CD kind of a flophouse for musicians and Jeff worked at the front desk and took a lot of messages from me. So, Jeff, here's to ya.
    • Chris Isaak from an intro to a French tv program called, Nulle Part Ailleurs on Canal+, January 1995.

  • [On recording Jeff Buckley's, Grace] I really wanted to share this because I felt Anthony Snape did such a great job of this seemingly impossible song to cover; Jeff Buckley's Grace. Jeff was like a comet passing through, and he left his mark forever. He is 'gone too soon,' but through his songs, he lives on.
  • Tommy Emmanuel

  • GAP: Who is your favorite musical artist?
    Brandon Boyd: Jeff Buckley

When he came out everyone was a little afraid to commit. Well not everybody, but a lot of popular artists were afraid to commit completely to what they were doing. They kind of used irony as a sheet around them, kind of protecting them from having to own up to what they said. Not only did he have one of the best voices I have ever heard, he was one hundred percent committed to what he was doing. He was unabashedly romantic in his lyrics and the way he sang. He got some flak for it while he was alive, and it sucks because when someone dies people start to say maybe he was awesome and they begin to analyze it differently. For those reasons, and I can go on forever about the guy. His voice has been influential to a lot of current artists, to people who might not even admit it really. Just his range and where he would even try to go with his voice. The guts to go from one octave to two above. Not a lot of people are doing also his falsetto influence has influenced me as well.

  • The record I would like to talk about today is Grace by Jeff Buckley. There are only a handful of albums that I've ever listened to that have captured me in the way that this album was able to capture me, and actually still holds up so many years after having first heard it. You know, most albums were able to date and over-contextualize and they kind of lose their importance to us over the years, as we grow up and stuff, and there are certain records that aren't able to do that at all and Jeff Buckley's, Grace, is one of them. His voice is...he's the best male singer I have ever heard in my life and he even rivals some female singers; so, check it out.

  • Dr. Drew: What will you remember most about the '90s?
    Sebastian Bach: The album Grace by Jeff Buckley. Unless you've heard it, you wouldn't know why.
    Dr. Drew: What's your favorite album for a night of steamy monkey love?
    Sebastian Bach: Jeff Buckley's Grace is the most romantic, sensual album I've heard in my life.
  • Q:What are you listening to on your Walkman?
    A: I listen to Jeff Buckley. He's my favorite singer. We actually cover a Jeff Buckley tune called "Eternal Life" in our set. When he died it really hit me, because he was an incredible singer who only did one album, Grace, and his voice was so beautiful that I couldn't believe it when he died. Since he's not around to sing songs anymore, we decided we'd give it a shot.
  • You ever heard of a guy named Jeff Buckley? He's one of the best singers I've ever heard.
    • Sebastian Bach – Skid Row from Skid Row's Forever Wild DVD, before covering Eternal Life

  • My singing used to be awful," admits Folds. "I don't have Jeff Buckley's voice. I don't write songs as an excuse to hear myself sing. It's the other way around: I sing so I can hear my songs. It can be kind of scary. You're on the radio next to -- well, on the shelf next to Jeff Buckley. We're in the B's. People can flip through and pick up his record instead and hear a lot better singer. He has that knack. I've had to really work at it. Of course, he probably doesn't play piano as well as me. I'm not going to get all competitive with the guy because obviously he's not doing so well these days.
    • Ben Folds of Ben Folds Five, from CMJ, February 1998.

  • "Jeff Buckley is one of the greatest vocalists that I’ve ever heard. Listening to him is inspiring, moving, spiritual. What a gift. He’s inspired many admirers and imitators but no one can duplicate him."
    • John Legend from the liner notes of So Real: Songs from Jeff Buckley

  • Certain people compared us, I've been mourning the fact that it would have been great to sing a duet.

  • I think he had one of the best voices I've ever heard.
    • Fred Schneider – B-52's, from segment #73 of VH1's 100 Greatest Albums of Rock & Roll

  • I just wanted to pay tribute to him and talk about the situation." When asked if it was a conscious thing to give an eastern flavor to the song, Sheik says "Definitely... I know that he was, like, a big fan of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and he was listening to a lot of that kind of music. There's also just a really mournful quality to that kind of string playing." Sheik says, "I wanted to send him off and say a few things about how much his music moved me and other people.

  • His voice is an incredible instrument, angelic and powerful and mean at the same time. Tortured. He has been a huge inspiration and influence to me over the last two years. This tune is just unreal.
    • Jonny Lang – Blues artist, from Rolling Stone Magazine, issues #820, September 2, 1999

  • This beautiful-looking guy with a fur coat and mad, curly hair walked in. He went to the bar and got a pint of Guinness, then plugged in his Fender and began to sing. Everybody was completely blown away. Who was it? It was Jeff Buckley.
    • Douglas Payne of Travis from Dream Brother (the book) written by David Browne.

  • Even if he didn't sell a huge amount of records in the U.S., he had a lot of impact...
    On writing "Grace":
    I just had faith that whatever he did would be good...I was stunned -- it was so beautiful and perfect...It surpassed anything that I thought he was going to do...I remember thinking, man, this music will shake the world. I was just scared by it.
    • Gary Lucas – Guitarist – from Press-Enterprise, June 29, 1997

  • It was the kind of collaboration I dream about actually. His voice sounded, you know, like an angel. Like a gift from God.
    • Gary Lucas – Guitarist from NBC Edgewise Tribute on MSNBC from 1997.

  • I don't hear that many current records that really change my life... I've found it in Jeff Buckley, and I find it in Björk on occasion.
    • Daniel Lanois – Music Producer, from ("Listen to This!: Leading Musicians Recommend Their Favorite Recordings" by In Alan Reder and John Baxterís)

  • He was just really spontaneous and it was just exciting. I was having a hard time in the band I was in and so to meet Jeffrey was just like being given a set of paints. Do you know what I mean? It was just like I had all this color in my life again. I mean he idolized me before he met me. It's kind of creepy and I, I was like that with him. This is embarrassing but it's the truth. I just couldn't help falling in love with him. He was adorable. I read his diaries, he read mine, you know we'd just swap, we'd literally just hand over this very personal stuff and I've never done that with anybody else. I don't know if he has. So in some ways it was very, there was a great deal of intimacy but then there'd be times when I'd just think "oh no, I'm just not penetrating this Jeff Buckley boy at all. I just felt like a groupie or something sometimes. It wasn't like being his partner at all. He just had something you wanted, it didn't matter who you were.
    • Liz Fraser – Cocteau Twins/This Mortal Coil from the BBC Documentary "Everybody Here Wants You"

  • I'm here because I adore his spirit, and I adore him and the place from which he creates.

  • I just love his spirit and his whole energy, and I also love when men use their voice so unselfconsciously, and just really...feminine, masculine, all over the place. And he just, um...he was and is my favorite.

  • Never heard, such a range, and such a purity. When he would place one note next to the other, you could actually see its, kind of, roundness.
    • Kenny Kaye – Music Producer – from NBC Edgewise Tribute on MSNBC from 1997.

  • I wanted to fuse together my favorite elements of rock and soul singers into something I could call my own. The inflections of Stevie Wonder with the soaring qualities of someone like Buckley. It was his emotional intensity that inspired me more than anything. Also, Jeff came along at a time most singers weren’t using their upper register. His approach helped me embrace the fact that I was a tenor. I owe that guy a lot.

External links[edit]

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