Wednesday, August 18, 2004

My Favorite Jeff Buckley Songs

If you're a regular reader, you know that one of my biggest musical heroes is the late singer-songwriter-rocker Jeff Buckley. I've decided to list my favorite songs of his (so far anyway) and why I like them so much.

- Grace (from Grace)
This is very much a rock anthem for Jeff, a dramatic song about not fearing death and holding on to love. The guitar parts in the introduction are quite catchy, and Jeff's voice gets a workout. His big scream near the end is probably one of my favorite Jeff Buckley moments of all time.

- Last Goodbye (from Grace)
The rocking, emotional breakup song that came after Grace is another of my favorite songs. This is the second Jeff song I had ever heard, and I loved it from the start. Again, the guitar intro is catchy and maybe even more famous than "Grace." It's something that, if you've heard it before, you know you've heard it the second it hits your ears. Jeff's vocals are tender and vulnerable through the first couple verses, then he sings with more and more conviction until the end of the song when everything comes to a high. It's the kind of song that builds and builds, the kind of song that Jeff wrote quite a lot.

- Hallelujah (from Grace)
This is the first Jeff Buckley song that I've ever heard. It's one of his more famous songs, and he didn't even write it. He made the song his own by singing it better than anyone else so far. It's a gorgeous song with thoughtful lyrics beautifully sung by Jeff's soulful voice. What else do you need to know?

- Lover, You Should Have Come Over (from Grace)
Another love song that builds, but this time Jeff sings with a little more emotion. You can feel the pain in his voice as he talks about the love he might have lost. But, as Jeff sings in the dramatic, uplifting part of the song, "It's never over." This song often brings a tear to my eye, because it's so full of love, pain, and power.

- Morning Theft (from Sketches For My Sweetheart The Drunk)
This is just a beautiful song. Jeff's voice gets more and more soulful and heart-gripping as the song goes on. Somehow he had the gift of using the sound of his voice alone to put emotions in his listeners' hearts and minds.

- Vancouver (from Sketches . . .)
A powerful, rocking love anthem. Both the guitar and Jeff's vocals aim for the sky and never stop for the entire song. Unlike some of his other songs, this one maintains the energy the whole way through. Except for the end when Jeff brings it up ANOTHER notch. Catchy, powerful, dramatic, energetic and fun to sing along to, this could easily have been a single if Jeff had finished his second album.

- You & I (from Sketches . . .)
Except for maybe a keyboard, this is all Jeff and his voice. With the studio echo effect, his voice has a haunting, eerie quality. I think this is one of his finest singing moments because of his talent and simplicity.

- I Know We Could Be So Happy Baby (if we wanted to be) (from Sketches . . .)
This was presented on Sketches as a 4-track demo that Jeff never lived to complete. It's rough, but I definitely see the potential. It has a wonderful contrast between his low-key vocals on the verses and his power on the choruses. I imagine this song with a loud, singable chorus. This would be a pick by me for a single if the song were ever finished.

- Back in NYC (from Sketches . . .)
This is a cover of a Genesis song (which I've never heard before). The lyrics are kind of silly, but Jeff's powerful voice makes them sound good.

-Jewel Box (from Sketches. . . )
Another gorgeous song by Jeff. This time it's not quite a "ballad" type song as it is a low key rocker with beautiful vocals. It's very simple, but yet still emotional.

-Night Flight (from Live at Sin-e Legacy Edition)
This is Jeff's cover of a Led Zeppelin song. Led Zep was a big influence for Jeff and it shows. His guitar is very folky and happy, and his vocals are, as usual, awesome. I especially like the little scream he lets out at the end. No one could scream like Jeff Buckley.

-Dink's Song (from Live at Sin-e LE)
Jeff's cover of a traditional folk/blues song. Did I mention Jeff knows how to build up a song to a dramatic conclusion? He does that VERY well on this song! He starts with some blues-y guitar and then goes into the start of the song with quiet vocals and a lovely little guitar riff that he repeats through the whole song. Usually something being repeated would be boring, but not with Jeff. His vocals get louder and louder and more dramatic and emotional as the song builds, until the end when he's virtually crying the lyrics and screaming in agony, pleasure or both. After the song is done, I never fail to say "What the HELL just happened?" because the experience was so powerful.

- The Way Young Lovers Do (from Live at Sin-e LE)
Jeff's cover of the Van Morrison song is long, energetic, jazzy and full of soul. The guitar here is my favorite part, but his vocals are good too. He does some jazzy scatting in the middle of the song, and it's very cool. And you have to love his drawn out, high pitched "dooooooooooo" at the end of the song.

-Sweet Thing (from Live at Sin-e LE)
Another cover of Van Morrison. Another excellent performance by Jeff. Here he goes for beauty instead of just power. The middle of the song has Jeff singing very quietly and beautifully, until he brings the song to a close by singing louder and louder and bringing the emotional level back up to a high. This is one of the most gorgeous performances I've heard from Jeff, and I love it.

-What Will You Say (from Live in Chicago DVD)
I don't think Jeff ever recorded this song, and it's a pity because it's so powerful. The lyrics are sharp and quite sad and introspective. I don't believe Jeff wrote this song, but it mentions fathers and mothers so I'm sure it had a personal connection for him. His vocals were SUPERB in this performance, and he screams and cries his heart out. Just an all-out vocal ASSAULT the likes of which the world may never see again.

Those are my favorites so far. I left out MANY deserving songs (especially from Sketches), but I can't put them all on here. But each of these songs has a place in my heart for various reasons, the most important of which is they each sound great!

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