And I feel them drown my name.

May 19, 2009

Hello again. Did everyone have a nice weekend? I sure hope so.

Way back in 2000, when I was starting my senior year at Willowbrook High School I had a Spanish class with my good friend and dearly departed musical compatriot, Brian. We’d usually spend the class talking about music or how much smarter we were than everyone else until the teacher told us to shut up and asked us to say things using irregular verbs and participles and crap like that.

Anyway, one day he was talking to me about wanting to check out Jeff Buckley’s Grace. I hadn’t yet heard it myself — remember that I was only about 18 years of age and coming out of high school. Grace is a bit more for the college crowd. But a lot of the older music snobs that worked with me at the book store had the album and would go on about how amazing it was in a kind of tone that said, “We are ever SO enlightened and privileged to understand the depths of this record.” It always kind of annoyed me — even though Brian and I were essentially doing the same thing in Spanish class.

So anyway, Brian tells me he wants to get Grace.

“Ah, you’re just saying that,” I retort. “Everyone says they’re gonna get that album after they read some list in Rolling Stone, but no one does.”

Well, he went out two weeks later and bought the damn album. And then had to remind me of what I’d said (“Remember how you said I wouldn’t get it? Remember?” etc.) Not wanting him to join the elevated conversations of Jeff Buckleydom with people like my coworkers without me, I ran to Best Buy and got myself a copy.

I liked some of it at first, but I’ll be honest — it took me a lot of continuous play to really get into the album as a whole.

By just a month into my freshman year of college, however, I was hooked. The album spun incessantly, I’d purchased Sketches for My Sweetheart the Drunk and the Live at Sin-E EP, and was devouring David Browne’s “Dream Brother.”

Then a funny thing happened. Everyone started getting into Jeff Buckley. 9/11 took place and they started using “Hallelujah” in commercials slowing the slow-motion footage of the makeshift memorial events at Ground Zero. “Shrek” came out and used Rufus Wainwright’s less appealing version of the song, which sent every  music snob running for his CD collection after the movie to show his girlfriend how the song should really sound. “Hallelujah” was also used on the season finale of “The West Wing” that year.

“Vanilla Sky” came out and as Cameron Crowe often does, he foisted his CD collection upon all of us, and had Tom Cruise emphatically insist that Penelope Cruz play Jeff Buckley, and we all got a snippet of “Last Goodbye” in that confusing-ass movie which still poses metaphysical dilemmas for me if I think about it too much.

Buckley was everywhere. He’d only been dead about five years, but now he was just like this original beacon for this new wave of falsetto plod-rock bands like Travis and Coldplay.

And Jeff’s mom started to realize she wanted to share as much as she could with Jeff’s growing legion of fans.

In the years since Jeff’s death in 1997, we’ve received Sketches for My Sweetheart the Drunk, the “Everybody Here Wants You” EP, a boxed repacking of the singles pulled from Grace, Songs to No One — the pre-Grace demos Buckley recorded with Gary Lucas, the live Mystery White Boy album, the “Live in Chicago” DVD, So Real — a collection of Buckley’s “greatest hits,” a vinyl edition of Grace, a Legacy Edition of Live at Sin-E (with DVD), a legacy edition of Grace (with DVD) and wa-hey, look what’s coming now:

A visual version of Jeff Buckley‘s Grace album has been compiled to mark 15 years since the album’s release.
Featuring nine previously unreleased live versions of album tracks as performed on TV in the US, England, Germany, France and Japan including the title track on the BBC Late Show, “Last Goodbye” for MTV and “Lover You Should Have Come Over” performed acoustically.
‘Grace Around The World’ will be released on June 22 as a DVD/CD set as well as a deluxe version with also features an hour long documentary called ‘Amazing Grace’. The doc features interviews with the three surviving members of the Jeff Buckley Band, friends, family, colleagues, DJ’s, producers, critics and fans.
The CD features all ten album tracks live, with extensive liner notes.
Grace Around The World will be available as the following versions. Full tracklistings are as follows:
STANDARD VERSION – DVD + CD (2-disc digipak with 16 page booklet)
DELUXE VERSION – 2 DVD + CD (DVD digipak with 24 page booklet, 2-sided fold-out poster, backstage laminate, tour announcement press release, tour dates postcard and three photo print postcards)
1. Grace (BBC Late Show, London, 1/17/95)
2. So Real (Live Aus Dem Sudbahnhof tv, Frankfurt, Germany, 2/24/95)
3. Mojo Pin (Live Aus Dem Sudbahnhof tv, Frankfurt, Germany, 2/24/95)
4. What Will You Say (Live Aus Dem Sudbahnhof tv, Frankfurt, Germany, 2/24/95)
5. Hallelujah (MTV Japan, 1/31/95)
6. Dream Brother (Howlin Wolf, New Orleans, 12/2/94)
7. Eternal Life (MTV’s Most Wanted, London, 3/3/95)
8. Last Goodbye (MTV’s Most Wanted, London, 3/3/95)
9. Lover You Should Have Come Over (JBTV Chicago, 11/8/94)
10. Lilac Wine (MTV Europe, Eurokeenes Festival, Belfort, France, 7/9/95)
11. Grace (MTV’s 120 Minutes, USA, 01/15/95)
12. So Real (MTV’s 120 Minutes, USA, 01/15/95)
Visual version, same track listing as CD.

Source: Uncut

You know what was so great about Grace? The fact that it was a total one-off. Aside from the original 4-song Sin-E EP and a few singles from the album, that was all that Jeff gave us during his lifetime. You don’t listen to it for the first time and go “Wow. Perfect album.” But you do listen to it again. And then again. And then again. And somewhere around the 16th listen, when you’ve looked a little more into his life and realize that the album essentially is his lone testament to the music business, THEN you go “Wow. Perfect album.”

Now I’m not saying the post-mortem releases have been a bunch of hogwash. Even though Buckley planned on scratching the studio material he recorded for My Sweetheart the Drunk, some of the stuff is phenomenal, and I’m glad we got it. Both the Legacy Editions of Sin-E and Grace gave us stuff that we wouldn’t have had otherwise (“Be Your Husband,” “Night Flight” and the studio cut of “Forget Her” come immediately to mind). The “Live in Chicago” DVD was fabulous. But how many live or acoustic versions of the Grace stuff do we need? At what point does the continual stream of 2Pac-like deathly prolificacy become too much and borderline perverse?

What, I ask, is so wrong with leaving it to one perfect album and letting the fans go mining for the rare or bootleg material and sharing it amongst themselves? Doesn’t that foster the legend more appropriately?

Maybe it’s just me, but every time there’s a “new” Jeff Buckley album celebrating 15-year old live performances, part of me feels an ill wind blow off the Mississippi River.

Jeff Buckley – Grace

And here’s the only live version of “Last Goodbye” you really need to see or hear.





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