Thursday, April 26, 2012

My Dream Brother from Another Mother

Jeff Buckley is my latest obsession. I stumbled upon him completely by accident. I watched "My Sister's Keeper," which is that movie with Jason Patrick & Cameron Diaz and that cutie from "Little Miss Sunshine," with the awful premise of being about a family that has a 2nd daughter who is a genetic match for their older, critically ill daughter, basically to keep the older one alive. You know what I mean? As a tissue and organ donor. From that description it sounds super creepy and gross, a la Brave New World, but it's really surprisingly heartwarming and thought provoking, which is honestly something I never thought I'd say about a movie with Cameron Diaz in it. But, I digress.

Jeff Buckley did a cover of an Elton John song in that movie (how many famous names can I drop in one post? Stick around, kids), called "We All Fall In Love, Sometimes." I loved it at first listen. So much that I bought the whole soundtrack on iTunes that night and only listened to the one song, over and over again. Why didn't I just buy the one song, you ask? Because I liked more than one of them! Don't judge me, I do it for the artists!

It has been a couple of years since I heard that first song of his, but every now and again, I would find myself obsessively playing it on a repeat loop, drawn to the sound of his wistful tenor, accompanied only by an electric guitar (I've since learned it was a Fender Telecaster) plugged in to a small amp. It sounded like he was playing in a tiny coffee shop to a crowd of 6, the feel was so intimate. So this year, I decided to dive down the rabbit hole to see what else of his I might love. In my search, I discovered two heart-breaking things at once: 1. his small portfolio cuts through to some very deep places in me, and 2. his portfolio is small because he drowned in the Mississippi River when he was 31 years old, only 6 years after he signed his first major recording contract with Columbia Records. I was 23 years old and I had never even heard his name at the time.

While it's tragic that I could have been loving his music for almost 20 years instead of less than one, I'm not sure I could have appreciated a guy with his brand when I was 16 years old. He was short; only 5'7". He was super-skinny and pale; the kind of geeky that ends up looking pretty hot when a music-industry photo stylist gets hold of it, but on his own? Just skinny and pale. And from everything I've read, he was a major music nerd. He was a musician's musician. Music was what he ate, slept, drank, and all he talked about. All kinds, too. He did covers of Nina Simone songs in high school, for crying out loud! Nah, there was no way I could have appreciated him at that age. So, I guess it's better that I found him, now, because at almost 36, I'm appreciating the hell out of him. I'm so sorry he died so young.

Here are the lyrics to one of his songs that slays me. He grew up without his father, who was a semi-well-known musician in the 60's, Tim Buckley. He left Jeff's mother before he was born and only saw him a handful of times while Jeff was really young. In a tragic coincidence, Tim died young, too, at age 28 from a drug overdose. This song speaks to some of the pain and longing Jeff felt growing up; wanting his dad and being repelled by the idea of him at the same time. We'll see if I'm successful in embedding the song in here. If not, there are some offerings on youtube. If you haven't before, you should check him out. It'll change your life.
            Dream Brother
There is a child sleeping near his twin
The pictures go wild in a rush of wind
That dark angel he is shuffling in
Watching over them with his black feather wings unfurled

The love you lost with her skin so fair
Is free with the wind in her butterscotch hair
Her green eyes blew goodbyes
With her head in her hands
and your kiss on the lips of another
Dream Brother with your tears scattered round the world.

Don't be like the one who made me so old
Don't be like the one who left behind his name
'Cause they're waiting for you like I waited for mine
And nobody ever came...

Don't be like the one who made me so old
Don't be like the one who left behind his name
'Cause they're waiting for you like I waited for mine
And nobody ever came...

Don't be like the one who made me so old
Don't be like the one who left behind his name
'Cause they're waiting for you like I waited for mine
Nobody ever came
Nobody ever came...

I feel afraid and I call your name
I love your voice and your dance insane
I hear your words and I know your pain
With your head in your hands and her kiss on the lips of another
Your eyes to the ground and the world spinning round forever
Asleep in the sand with the ocean washing over