Jeff Buckley: "I only lived with my father Tim for nine days"

Jeff Buckley: “I only lived with my father Tim for nine days”

“Jeff Buckley – From Hallelujah to The last goodbye” is released today in the Chinaski series by Il Castello Editore, a book in which after twenty years of absolute secrecy, Dave Lory – Buckley’s manager and friend – reveals, also collecting many other voices of witnesses, what it was like to work alongside the tragically deceased artist.
From the book, courtesy of the publisher, we publish some excerpts from the first ever interview granted by Jeff Buckley to Martin Aston for the College Music Journal and published on August 12, 1992.

Martin Aston: When did music force its way into your life for the first time?

Jeff Buckley: When I was a child.

On one side were my mother’s breasts and on the other was music. The best company, the most sincere and present friend, she wandered with me in every room of the house. The radio was always on, I’ve been humming songs like “I Love You More Today Than Yesterday” for practically my whole life. My mother drove me to school, and in the car we were always tuned to a station that played melodic Californian music, sweet and persuasive: we listened to Chicago, Crosby Stills & Nash, Blood Sweat & Tears, Sly & The Family Stone, James Brown, The Tempations, everything every single day! She married a .
a mechanic who repaired cars, as tone deaf as a bell, but who had an excellent taste for good music, and it was he who introduced me to Booker T., Led Zeppelin and Joni Mitchell, Hoyt Axton and Willie Nelson. My mother sang for me, she is a classically trained pianist and cellist. I lived with my mother because my parents separated even before I was born. I also frequented my grandmother’s house a lot: she played records by The Chambers Brothers and stuff like that.

Was music your first love, right?

Besides sex, you say? One embraces the other, let’s say. I have a vivid memory of being obsessed with my stepfather’s stereo and getting in trouble more than once for using it. He was as jealous of it as if it were a car. He had a really expensive system though, so I had to be very careful with it, also not to get caught, until one day I wanted to listen to a live Jimi Hendrix bootleg at all costs, I couldn’t stand it, and he got pissed off as hell. However, I had a cassette player in my room, which I shared with another kid in the family. To make it work, however, you had to stick a hanger in it.

When did you start singing?

My first audience was a gathering of relatives.

My stepfather got drunk and fell asleep on the floor in front of everyone, with my grandmother too embarrassed, so, to divert attention from what had just happened, I started singing all the Elton John songs I knew. I was a big fan of him back then. I even earned myself a nice handful of silver dollars with my impromptu performance. I was thirteen (laughs). My best friend and I started playing electric guitar, you know, we prepared “Stairway To Heaven,” for a talent show in middle school. We lost, unfortunately. We lived in Southern California then.
Later I had a group in Northern California, in Willits, we were called Axxis. It wasn’t my idea. That’s one of the nineteen cities I’ve lived in. I went to four different high schools. I only attended one for a couple of weeks. My mother was a real gypsy

Did singing on stage come easy to you?

Completely natural.

I just did it. Like going to the beach, or diving into the ocean, ah the water! I had never thought about it, in fact. I sang for the first time for high school kids at a dance at a Methodist Church in Northern California. At thirteen I already had clear ideas about what I wanted to do. My absolute favorite was Led Zeppelin, and I felt like that was my world. I spent hours and hours listening to “Magical Mystery Tour”.
I left home at seventeen because I was tired of the constant moving. I played in a lot of bands in Los Angeles, just to make some money. For a while I was part of a reggae group, the AKB Band, a heterogeneous collective of crazy people, there was also a Rasta. I played the guitar. We went as far as supporting U-Roy, Shinehead and Judy Mowatt and played Bob Marley Day in Long Beach. We also did studio sessions for demos
Z series.

What stage are you in now?

Fixed to the starting blocks. I’d like to make a record. The night you came to see me, various record labels came to hear me. Clive Davis of Arista wanted to sign me on trust even without having seen me, based on a report from the head of his A&R division, but to convince himself he wanted to check it out in person anyway. I intend to start off on the right foot. I want to find the right people to play with. Yes, a band, just to get the vibe I need. A shot of energy.

May I allow myself to raise the sensitive issue of your father Tim?

It happens that those who knew him come to see me, with curiosity, to spend a nice evening out, but they see me and no longer think of him.

I’m talking about those who haven’t looked into it in depth. However, I keep a safe distance from those who are more intimate and fond of me. We are different, him and me. The people who knew him apparently have great memories of the magic he was capable of, but unfortunately this claustrophobic bond has haunted me all my life. In the end we only lived together for nine days, nine in number. He never wrote to me, nor did he contact me.

Do you listen to his records?

Yes, especially to get to know the person behind it. It’s all there, whoever wants to understand understands it, more or less. She wrote a couple of songs about me and my mother that sometimes I find difficult to listen to, other times not so much. Her style had nothing to do with mine. The funny thing is that physically we look a lot alike, but when I sing, well, it’s just me. Technically I am able to reproduce what he did, but the way we express ourselves is not the same; there
sphere is completely different. His were other times, influenced by Dylan and folk. I don’t sound like him even when I speak. But I can do a believable imitation of it by frowning, and when I do it people start laughing.