TIM BUCKLEY-GOODBYE AND HELLO.

TIM BUCKLEY-GOODBYE AND HELLO.

In this article, I am going to write about an artist many people will not have heard of, and therefore, will be unaware of the wonderful music he recorded in his career. The artist is Tim Buckley, and in this article i will review one of his finest albums Goodbye and Hello. Goodbye and Hello was released in 1967 on the Elektra label. This was his second album, and was the follow up to his self-titled album Tim Buckley, which was produced by Jack Nitzsche and released in 1966.

Buckley was a singer, songwriter and musician. His self titled debut album, Tim Buckley, had a folk influence, however, through his career, the style of his music evolved, to encompass a jazz, psychedelia, soul, funk and avant-garde sounds and influences. What made Buckley stand out from the crowd at that time, was the way he used his voice almost like an instrument. He had an incredibly wide vocal range, that he used on many of his songs. Buckley was  also a talented guitarist, playing both the Guild 12 String Guitar and a Fender Electric XII.  Sadly, a permanent injury to two fingers on his left hand, sustained whilst playing football in high school, caused Buckley problems when playing the guitar. Some people believe that this led him to play extended chords, as they don’t require the use of barres.

Tim Buckley was born in 1947 in Washington DC, and later, moved to Amsterdam, New York. His first exposure to music was listening to his mother’s progressive jazz records. Throughout his childhood, he was introduced to a wide range of music, from the blues of Bessie Smith and Billie Holiday, to the jazz sounds of Miles Davis, and the country music of Hank Williams and Johhny Cash. 

At high school, he sang he was inspired by the Kingston Trio and formed a group influenced by their music. Towards the end of his school career, he started missing classes to focus more of his attention on music. He was fortunate that he would meet Larry Beckett who was later, to write lyrics for Buckley, and Jim Fielder who played bass in two of the groups he joined. These two groups were The Bohemians, who played popular music,  and The Harlequin 3 who were a folk group. 

Another fortunate meeting for Buckley occurred in 1965, when he met Mary Guibert, a year younger than Buckley. Guibert became pregnant not long after, and they married in October 1965, giving birth to Jeff Buckley, who later became a talented singer songwriter. Mary Guibert was to be an inspiration for much of Buckley’s music. The marriage allowed Tim Buckley to spend time away from home, where his father a much decorated, US Army veteran, had became unstable, and sometimes violent. The marriage was turbulent, and Buckley soon moved into his own apartment, and soon after he realized he could not cope with married life, and the couple saw each other only occasionally thereafter. They divorced a year later in 1966, a month prior to Mary gave birth to Jeff.

Buckley left high school in 1965, and headed to college. However, college and music were too much for Buckley to cope with, and he left college after two weeks to concentrate on his musical career. He spent time playing the folk clubs in LA during 1965, and then played a number of coffee houses in Orange County. In February 1966, Buckley’s big break came. He had played a concert at a club in LA called It’s Boss, when he was spotted by Jimmy Carl Black, the drummer in The Mother’s of Invention. He recommended Buckley to Herb Cohen the manager of The Mother’s of Invention. Cohen liked what he saw, and arranged for Buckley to play a concert at the Nite Owl, in Greenwich Village, New York. It was while Buckley was there, that he met guitarist, Lee Underwood, who went on to be Buckley’s guitarist, playing on his albums. At the same time, Herb Cohen became Buckley’s manager, and arranged for him to record a demo with six tracks on it. This demo was sent to Jac Holzman at Elektra Records. Cohen liked what he heard, and after seeing Buckley live, signed Buckley to Elektra.

Tim Buckley went on to record nine studio albums for Elektra. He was with Elektra throughout his career, and released his final album Look At the Fool in 1974. Throughout his career, he constantly reinvented himself, changing his sound and style. Listen to his nine studio albums, and you will hear Buckley in various guises’ You will hear Buckley sing folk, jazz, funk and soul. On some tracks, his sound is particularly avant garde, an experimental sound, that is unlike his previous work.

Sadly, the Tim Buckley has an unhappy ending. In June 1975, Buckley played his final concert in Dallas, Texas. The day after attending an end of tour party, Buckley died of an overdose of heroin. He had managed to control a drug habit for some time, it is thought that his tolerance level was lowered, and the amount of heroin he had ingested and alcohol he consumed were the cause of his death. He left behind a second wife Judy, and an eight year old son Jeff. When Buckley died, he was only twenty-eight, although he lived a short life, he packed a lot of living into it, and left us with some wonderful music, one of those albums being Goodbye and Hello.

Goodbye and Hello has ten tracks on it, Buckley wrote six songs himself, and co-wrote the other four with Beckett. The first track on the album is No Man Can Find A War. This is an anti-war song, written by Beckett which examines the psychological nature of war. On this song, Buckley it starts with a crash of thunder and Buckley singing accompanied by the guitar. It is a deeply moving song, with evocative and moving lyrics, that tell the story of what is happening to Americans many thousands of miles away. It is a strong song to start the album.

Carnival Song is the next song on the album, and begins with sounds of a carousel. The tempo of the song is interesting, and Buckley sings the song gently. The lyrics seem to be about Buckley’s childhood memories, and have the ability to paint a picture. A picture that the listener can imagine, can visualize and smell, that is how clear the picture painted is.

The next song Pleasant Street, is a different type of song. Although the song starts brightly with guitar and piano, the lyrics are darker and brooding. There is almost a cynical nature to the lyrics. On this track Buckley shows his incredible vocal range. He goes from singing softly one minute, to really letting his voice go the next. This is a song that is well sung, and features some wonderful musicianship.

Hallucinations is a song of its time. This is song that is in tune with the counter culture that was sweeping America at that time. The song has almost the sound of a band tuning up at the start. Once the song really starts Buckley sings the softly. He sounds a bit like Al Stewart when he sings the lyrics. The lyrics have a surreal quality to them. Although not a bad song, it is not vintage Buckley. The song has a folk feel to it, but sometimes there is a frantic feel to the song, as if it is unfinished. However, one must remember that when this album was released he was only twenty, and that he had written many of the songs on this album whilst at high school.

I Never Asked To Be Your Mountain is a song about his relationship with his wife Mary. In this song he sings of his frustrations and the pressures he felt. This is a very personal song for Buckley. It has a confessional quality to it. Even the quicker tempo of the song suggests that his frustrations and feelings are pouring out. It is as if Buckley is getting his side of the story across. This is one of the best songs on the album.

On Once I Was is a lovely slow song, that finds Buckley singing about fighting on foreign shores, a response to the war in Vietnam, that tragically cost countless lives on both sides. He also sings about being a hunter and a lover, remembering all the things the character in the song has been. However, the point of the song is that once he is gone will he be remembered. This is, by far, the best song on the album. Buckley sings some poignant and beautiful lyrics well. 

With the next track Phantasmagoria In Two the tempo quickens. This is another good song. The lyrics to this song are good, and are some of the best lyrics on the album. Likewise, the song features one of the strongest vocal performances from Buckley on the album. Although the musicians on this album are all good musicians, on this track Don Randi on piano and Eddie Hoh on drums produce great performances, that help make this one of the best tracks on the album.

Knight-Errand is a song that begins with an organ solo. The track has a strong folk influence. This is apparent when one listens to the lyrics. The sound of the track is very different to what has gone before. There is a baroque feel to this track. However, it demonstrates how Buckley liked to change styles and was constantly reinventing himself.

The title track Goodbye and Hello is the next song. This song has an atmospheric feel to it at the start. The song starts slowly, and then almost reaches a frantic tempo. However, just as quickly as the tempo increases, it falls again. This has the effect of being like a shock to the system. This happens several times. The lyrics almost have a medieval theme to them. It is the poorest song on the album. This is, in my opinion, not Tim Buckley’s finest hour, it is certainly not the strongest song Tim Buckley has ever recorded. I do not like the changes in tempo, or Buckley’s vocal delivery on this track. 

The final song on the album is Morning Glory. This is a return to form for Buckley. On Morning Glory he sings some lovely lyrics, and the band’s performance compliments the song. The song is one that is suited to Buckley’s vocal, he sing the song softly, accompanied by a piano playing gently, and some gorgeous backing vocals, singing behind him. This is a fitting end to the album.  

Having taken the time to read this review of Tim Buckley and his second album Goodbye and Hello, I hope I have stimulated your interest in what is a good album. What is hard to believe when you listen to this album, is that Buckley was only twenty when he recorded this album. What is even harder to believe is that some of the songs were written when Buckley and Beckett were only eighteen. They obviously had considerable maturity as songwriters at an early age. Goodbye and Hello was recorded at a time when the world was changing. By 1967 the world was a very different place, and music was very different. In 1962 and 1963, the world was satisfied by The Beatles and Please, Please Me and I Wanna Hold Your Hand. By 1967 music had changed and been influenced by the counter-culture that was sweeping the world. This album is a response to those changes, and when you listen carefully to the lyrics, I am sure you will agree. Within this album there is some great music, and should you enjoy this album, there is a lot more great music for you to explore within Tim Buckley’s back catalogue. A good starting point is Morning Glory: The Tim Buckley Anthology which features some of his greatest songs. Should you wish to buy some of his studio albums, I would recommend Tim Buckley, Happy Sad, Greetings From LA and Look At the Fool. Standout Tracks: No Man Can Find A War, I Never Asked To Be Your Mountain, Phantasmagoria In Two and Morning Glory.

TIM BUCKLEY-GOODBYE AND HELLO.

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