...we've got the means to make amends. I am lost, I'm no guide, but I'm by your side. (Pearl Jam, Leash)

Friday, March 31, 2006

Tim Buckley video: Song To The Siren, Monkees TV Show 1968

I had never actually heard Tim Buckley sing before I found this video, only read about him and seen his pictures. After seeing David Gray perform this amazing song a few weeks ago, I became driven to learn more about it and I found this video to be phenomenal. Probably what I found most interesting is how much Tim and Jeff obviously resemble each other physically, but that they sound so completely different in terms of voice. Where Jeff is dramatic and gorgeous and soaring, Tim is very straightforward Irish-folksy sounding to me. Here is the story behind it, from David Browne's marvelous book I am reading, Dream Brother: The Lives and Music of Jeff & Tim Buckley:

"One fall morning over breakfast, [poet friend Larry] Beckett came over [to Tim Buckley's apartment] with his latest well-honed, slaved-over lyric . . . Guitar in-hand at the dining table, Tim looked at Beckett's lyrics and pushed them away 'like unwanted mail,' Beckett remembers. After eating, Tim took his guitar, pulled Beckett's poem back over, and out of nowhere began playing a melody that complemented the words.

The song, which owed a debt to Homer's The Odyssey as well, was 'Song To The Siren,' a forlorn ode to unattainable love that used the call of a mythic siren as a chilling metaphor. Both its music and lyric captured the fatalistic Irish part of Tim's soul.

Long afloat on shipless oceans,
I did all my best to smile
'Til your singing eyes and fingers
Drew me loving to your isle
And you sang, 'Sail to me, sail to me
Let me enfold you
Here I am, here I am
Waiting to hold you.

In late November, not long after it was written, Tim premiered the song at a taping of the final episode of the Monkee's television series . . . Tim had befriended wool-hatted Monkee Michael Nesmith at the Troubadour's hoot nights. 'This is Tim Buckley,' announced Monkee Micky Dolenz. With Beckett standing offstage, holding the lyrics in case his friend forgot them, Tim walked onto the set - an old car with a smashed windshield - and slumped atop the hood. Accompanied only by his crystalline twelve-string, he caressed the melody, his large brown afro slowly bobbing back and forth as he sang."

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At March 31, 2006 1:14 PM, Blogger Don't Need Anything said...

that was beautiful. i've never listened to tim before but im gonna go look him up now.

At April 01, 2006 9:42 PM, Blogger WIUP's The Sunday Sampler with Marc Morrison said...


Thanks for posting that! I had never seen that clip before. But I certainly am familiar with the song, from Tim's album Starsailor...where by this time he is in experimental mode, wailing and emoting this song as lyric tragedy. A beautiful song about helpless and hopeless love.

At April 02, 2006 5:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Heather..

I must say that I think Tim and Jeff's voices were quite alike.

Listen to some of Tim's more experimental stuff, and I think you will agree. His voice had just about the same range as Jeff's and the same vibrato.

Great blog, by the way.

At April 03, 2006 8:31 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi again!..

'Moulin Rouge' and 'Down By The Borderline' are excellent songs, though i don't know if one can categorize them under his experimental stuff. I'm really not an expert in terms of Tim, though i do own a few albums.

No problem ;)

At April 05, 2006 4:43 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

One of the most gorgeous songs ever written.

I have to admit, my favorite version is by This Mortal Coil on their first CD.

Cocteau Twins' Liz Frazier sings it.
Oh - my - god...it will move you to tears. It's the song I want played at my funeral :)

At April 22, 2006 1:15 PM, Blogger Jon said...

I'm gonna stop flicking through your blog now, skimming cool sounding MP3s. You gotta hear more Tim Buckley tho - as he is a god; 9 albums in less than 9 years, and each one different and intresting. I'm gonna join that International Mix Tape project and if i get you first you'll get my XDR of Tim Buckley, Tim Hardin and Tim Rose - three Tims, all interesting (tho don;t waste money on anything but the first Tim Rose album, unless you have a load of it!)

At July 02, 2006 12:53 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Native? are you Indian?

At March 09, 2007 12:36 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I loved seeing that video clip. I'm in my 50's and saw Tim Buckley many times. I think the biography you reference, "Dream Brothers", unduly slanders Tim Buckley and his musical abilities. He was an utterly disarming performer.
My friend Betty and I, who was also a fan and witness of Tim as a stage presence, went to see Jeff Buckley perform here in Seattle. During one number we looked at each other and we both had tears in our eyes. Jeff sounded (and looked, for that matter) exactly like his father. It was absolutely uncanny.
They both shared the ability to defy musical genre. Blues, rock, pop, folk, jazz: no problem. That was a problem for Tim, I think. He was such an innovator, no one could peg him down. As soon as someone identified with his sound, he would change it. Personally, I love musicians who are on a journey.


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