Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Jeff's Dad

Here we have to leave Bertha for a bit. She’s over there in the field, parked neatly under a line of trees, safely out of the sun and doubtless receiving admiring glances from the stream of freaks making their way into the campsite. Who knows – one or two of them may even have rested in her shadow for a moment, to share a refreshing glass of Lucozade. Or a joint.

Meanwhile, we’re on the other side of the fence…

Positional Diagram Posted by Hello

We’ve handed in our tickets and received a rubber stamp in return. We’ve picked our way through the crowd, mumbling schoolboy apologies every time we missed the patch of open grass we were aiming for with our desert boots. We’ve met our friends (somehow this always happens, even in a crowd of 200,000 people) and claimed the ribbon of ground on which we will spend the next 14 hours by spreading bags and blankets in every direction. We’re near the front: we can actually pick out faces on the stage. We’ve succeeded in scoring more dope, though it’s quite probable that some of us at least will have forgotten to bring food. Soon this will necessitate pushing and stumbling and wobbling back through the crowd, crushing fingers and coke cans all the way, to visit the hot dog stall (round about the same time, Libby and Liney will discover a stall where they’re selling vegetarian nutloaf, and of course they will be making the correct purchase decision). When we return we’ll discover that the ample space we thought we were sitting in has miraculously shrunk to something you’d be hard pushed to lay an A4 envelope on. Any connection between this effect and the hot dogs is strictly coincidental.

But we won’t mind. We'll draw our knees up to our chin and wait, knowing that sooner or later the guy in front will have to trudge off to the toilet, and then we’ll take back the ground he stole from us with his three-ton rucksack and half dozen plastic bags full of provisions. Meanwhile the air is full of the scent of patchouli and hashish, and if you look back over the crowd and squint your eyes it feels like you’re floating in an ocean of hair, and over there on the stage people are banging and muttering into microphones and this means that very very soon Tim Buckley will be on.

I’m going to try not to turn into some kind of nerdy critic here. I hate that. But I’d spent the last six months at Victory Square listening to Greetings from LA, and it had rapidly become one of the half dozen albums I intended to take to my grave. Still is, come to that.

By way of explanation, in reverse order of importance:

1/ It’s one of the most out-and-out sexual albums ever made. I’ve never forgotten the look that came over Dave Walkling’s face the first time he realised Buckley really was singing ‘I wanna lick… all around the stretch marks.’

2/ The music was funky as hell. I can't think of a better way to say that.

3/ Tim Buckley had the most extraordinary voice. The full five octave range, and every one with its own colour, so he could go all the way from a Nat King Cole baritone to a Little Richard squeal in a single phrase, and nobody ever got bored. It could rip your heart out.

The only other person I ever heard who could sing like that came twenty years later, and only made one album: Tim’s son Jeff.

Apparently the crowd at Knebworth was still settling in, and not really very interested in a minority interest sixties folk singer trying to revive his career with an electric band. I don’t know. I was too busy hanging on every note. And the notes I hung on most of all actually came before the band even started playing: two and a half minutes of acapella that I’ve seen described as a ‘vocal warm-up’ but I distinctly remember hearing as Buckley tuning the band to his voice, string by string.

Then he played Nighthawking and Sweet Surrender. You know how it is when a musician plays exactly what you want to hear.

Within a year he was dead. The Buckleys, father and son, are the saddest story in rock and roll.

And a gift from God. Boy, this day was off to a good start…


Anonymous caroline morphess said...

Blimey. I think I had better try and get hold of a copy if it's that good.

So, what happened to them both?

Impressive arrows. I can't do that.

11:07 pm  
Blogger Ms Mac said...

I echo Caroline there. I might have to grab a copy somehow.

I absolutely love Jeff Buckley's Grace which was played ad nauseum one year on an Aussie Radio station before and after Jeff's untimely demise. The Last Goodbye is pretty good too.

6:10 am  
Blogger Mark Gamon said...

It's not the same style as Jeff's. It's a kind of 70s funky groove boogie white soul thing (I'm floundering for words this morning). But it's the voice. If you've heard Jeff, you'll recognise Tim. And vice versa. The bit where Jeff goes completely AWOL towards the end of Grace is pure Tim.

If you hate it, come back and shout at me (shrug). I can take it...

7:40 am  
Blogger Mark Gamon said...

Caroline - if you only knew how long those arrows took. Graphics not my strong point.

They both came to a sad end. Jeff even more so than Tim - at least Tim got a few albums out first...

7:41 am  
Blogger Mark Gamon said...

I've added some links to the post. Should have done that in the first place. Sorry...

8:32 am  
Blogger Deirdre said...

Good job with the arrows, but you really didn't need to point out where you were. I mean, it's obvious: there! Look! It's you, obviously!

1:53 pm  
Blogger Mark Gamon said...

True. I didn't think of that...

6:30 pm  
Blogger broomhilda said...

I would have know that hair anywhere!

10:59 pm  

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