Thursday, August 20, 2009

Listen to Tim Buckley's New CD

Regular readers of my column might recall a piece I wrote about the late Tim Buckley a couple of years ago. I wrote the piece in response to a DVD release of his live performances on American, British and Dutch television titled My Fleeting House.

Well, next Tuesday (August 25th to be exact) Tompkins Square Records will release a CD titled Tim Buckley: Live at the Folklore Center, NYC - March 6, 1967. The Folklore Center was situated in Greenwich Village. Owned by Izzy Young, the Folklore Center was a veritable who's who of folk music artifacts. Not surprisingly, folk musicians would frequent this establishment including Bob Dylan.

When Buckley played in front of a small audience of 35 people late that winter he was all of 20 years old. But he already had his debut album, the self-titled Tim Buckley, under his belt which had been released by Elektra Records the previous year. Three months later, Elektra would release his second album Goodbye & Hello which as it turned out would be his best selling record.

Although the CD won't officially be released for several more days you can listen to the album in its entirety on NPR. (So government subsidized radio isn't totally useless.) I've listened to ten of the sixteen songs Buckley played at this gig. He plays several songs from his debut album (i.e. "Song for Jainie", "Wings") and from Goodbye & Hello (i.e. "Carnival Song", "No Man Can Find The War" - the obligatory anti-Vietnam war song.) But there are also six songs he performs that would never appear on any of Buckley's studio albums nor have they been heard in any of his other recorded live performances (i.e. "In The Rain Comes", "Country Boy".)

If none of these six songs ever saw the light of day again I wonder how many of them he co-wrote with Larry Beckett? Beckett, who is now a poet based in Portland, Oregon, was Buckley's high school friend in Anaheim. Buckley and Beckett were one half of the folk quartet The Bohemians along with Jim Fielder (who later played bass with Blood, Sweat & Tears) and Dan Gordon (who later became a screenwriter and wrote the screenplay for The Hurricane starring Denzel Washington.) The Bohemians recorded a demo for Elektra but the label was interested only in Buckley.

Nevertheless, Beckett became Buckley's writing partner for the first two albums. But by 1968 Beckett had gone into the Army and Buckley moved away from folk music and began experimenting with jazz and avante-garde music. He would also begin writing songs on his own and would not collaborate with Beckett again until his 1970 album Starsailor. Those six songs most likely didn't fit with Buckley's new musical direction and they were never heard of again until now. What is old is new again.

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