[140] Jeff Buckley – Grace

10 Dec

When a cover of a song as good as Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” does not sound at all out of place on an album otherwise comprised of originals, the result is going to be special.


The mid-to-late ’90s was a very strange time for me, musically.

I simply wasn’t actively listening to new music anywhere near the mainstream, instead only discovering new stuff in small clubs played by bands who no one but me (and just maybe the performers themselves) still remember.  Newly returned to New York City, I was working in a comic store where I either listened to my own eclectic cassettes or Classic Rock radio.  I was shooting pool in East Village bars where the jukeboxes played familiar and comforting CDs.  I was only at home long enough to catch up on sleep and write papers for my Master’s classes, playing old mix tapes or watching B5 and Sports Night reruns.

For these reason I did not encounter Grace, although it would not have been at all out of place.

If I was still a part of any scene that listened to new music back then, Jeff Buckley would have been someone I listened to.  He hits all of the accents I tend to love in my Rock – polished soundscapes, ranging vocals, power and precision in equal measure.

So it is a shame that I feel like I have missed the boat here.

Buckley just doesn’t appeal to me today the way he would have done to my 20-something psyche.  This is not to say that I do not enjoy what I hear, that I am not glad to finally have the excuse to explore out this one-and-sadly-done album.

Instead, I just have a different relationship to music today.  I don’t pore over liner notes memorizing lyrics anymore – who has time?  I don’t dance around night clubs the way I once did – much as I’d still love to go dancing, I find I’d rather be with my girls at home, playing a boardgame with one of the 1,000 recordings playing over Sonos.

I understand the hype that Buckley generated, even before his early demise.  I appreciate the craft on display, the obvious talent, the sense of history and gravity with which every song is performed.

So I feel an appropriate melancholy that I did not connect with this when it might really have affected me.

Grace is never going to be a favorite album, but it will certainly be one that I revisit, one that enters my rotation of the new discoveries which I find I want to hear again.

Next week: Lord Buckley – His Royal Hipness

Owned before blogging? No.  (12 of 140 = 9%)
Heard before blogging? No.  (20 of 140 = 14%)
Recommend? Yes. (116 of 140 = 83%)

3 Responses to “[140] Jeff Buckley – Grace”

  1. doronklemer December 10, 2015 at 11:29 AM #

    I discovered Buckley late’ish, too, but this album may now be in my (ever-changing) Top10, although I definitely recommend it entering the rotation, as I didn’t fall in love with it straight away, it simply got better and better with every listen.

    There are one or two tracks I skip, but several more, (Lover…Lilac Wine…and, of course, Hallelujah), which I would be happy to have played at either my (theoretical) wedding, or my (theoretical) funeral.

  2. H December 10, 2015 at 1:04 PM #

    This album scares me.

    Copy-write 1994 I was either in Oregon (where no music penetrated (remember I had to learn about Kurt Cobain blowing his brains out a state away from the MOTHER of one of my fellow Brits because it didn’t make the news a couple of hundred miles away) or in my final year and well we all listened to the same stuff. It is altogether possible that I know most of the album as it was played at the Years but somehow I doubt it.

    I do know where I first knowingly encountered Hallelujah. That was many years after the fact when I was watching DVDs of the West Wing. Season 3 finale. An episode that I would never willing watch with others and will probably avoid as much as possible watching by myself.

    So I bought the song. Then I bought the CD. CD was put on the PC and has been there over the last 7 years plus, moving from machine to machine (I did own it before the X-Factor single (2008)!). There are no plays on anything other than Hallelujah.

    What if the rest of it is as bad (good?) at sticking a knife in my chest? What if the rest of it is no terrible? What if it’s banal folky rock that is just boring. So it sits on the shelf and in i-tunes and doesn’t get played.

    Even now, given I’m typing about it I could woman up and hit the go stud but while it seems wrong to be listening to anyone else while doing this I’d rather sit here with just the clicking of the clicky keys for accompaniment than take the risk.

    Maybe tomorrow…

  3. nycavri December 10, 2015 at 1:08 PM #

    Certainly never played at The Years or we’d both know every note.

    And that West Wing Season 3 Finale is still sickeningly relevant . . .

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