He Was - The Tim Buckley Story
This is the forward to Paul Barrera's two-in-one book
I was asked to write the story of Tim Buckley I was aware
almost at once that there were certain parallels to be drawn
between the career of Tim and that of Nick Drake.
First and foremost both these singer-songwriters had precocious
talents, Nick Drake was born in 1948, Tim Buckley in 1947,
so they were approaching the music business on opposite sides
of the Atlantic at the same time.
Tim Buckley was
first into the recording studio in 1966 at the age of 19,
Nick followed in 1969 when 21. It is known that Nick was listening
to Tim's second album Goodbye and Hello, recorded in
1967, re-listening now there are similarities in style. Very
few songs from either singer were ever immediate enough to
be hit singles but they both had their moments.
entrance into the music business proper were remarkably similar.
Tim Buckley was observed performing by Jimmy Carl Black, the
drummer of Frank Zappa's Mothers of Invention. Jimmy Carl
Black brought the singer to the attention of Jac Holzman,
the owner, manager, publisher, producer, jack of all trades
at his own Elektra Records. Nick Drake was seen by Ashley
Hutchins, the bass player with Fairport Convention, and brought
to the attention of Joe Boyd, the owner, manager, publisher,
producer, jack of all trades at Witchseason Records. Joe Boyd
was also head of Elektra Records Europe. There was yet another
connection. Joe Boyd had leased his Incredible String Band
to Jac Holzman at Elektra, rather than to his usual outlet,
Chris Blackwell at Island Records.
tape was made by Tim for Jac Holzman, and the exact sequence
was performed by Nick Drake for Joe Boyd. Both Jac and Joe
so enjoyed the tapes that they decided there and then to record
first albums for these singers. Strangely, after Joe Boyd
started and sold yet another record label, Hannibal, to Rykodisc,
he took a position as director of Rykodisc and thus remained
in control of Nick Drake's life work.
is a similarity between the early albums of both Nick and
Tim, with Happy Sad and Bryter Layter both have
the same sensitivity, both albums are essential for any self
respecting collector. Tim and Nick both became extremely poor
in search of artistic integrity. Tim finally gave in to commerciality
after his Starsailor album did not sell, Nick never
lived long enough to prostitute his art, he did however criticize
many who had. Tim was a realist with a family to feed, Nick
had doting parents who were always there for him in his time
Tim's songs the protagonists were for the most part people
involved in his everyday life, for Nick they seem to be more
fragments of his imagination. Do we really know who Betty,
Jeremy, Jacomo, Mary Jane, Hazey Jane or Joey are, or are
they intended to be anyone living or dead? There are also
similarities between survivor Leonard Cohen's first three
albums and those of Nick Drake. Cohen was full of deep poetry
at the time, he was often mentioned as a sage of depression
and deep moodiness.
three singer-songwriters mentioned here wrote of their private
thoughts, the investigations, and learning what made them
all tick adds to the beauty of their work. Danny Thompson,
the brilliant bass player, played on both Nick Drake records
and accompanied Tim Buckley at the Queen Elizabeth Hall concert,
which finally emerged on record some years ago.
wonders how many other singer-songwriters would have been
explored in depth through their work if they had died early.
Would Kris Kristofferson had an alternative meaning for his
Help Me Make It Through The Night? For example the song
What's Another Year which was the Eurovision Song Contest
winner for Ireland some years ago, has also been subject of
incorrect interpretation. The song is not for a lover whose
alliance has changed, it is a song for a man whose wife has
just died, he sits wondering what he will do without her.
two extraordinary artists who both died young , both of overdoses
of drugs. Nick in 1974 at the age of 26, Tim in 1975 at the
age of 28. Their music will be with us forever, they will
always be young in our minds whilst we grow old and decrepit.
Neither Tim nor Nick left a suicide note, it is likely that
they both died by accident, sadly we will never know for sure
in the case of Nick Drake. Would Nick have eventually given
in to easy listening music to get his message over is a question
for which we will never have an answer. Tim died after taking
a couple of years away from recording Starsailor, but
still never obtained their recognition except posthumously.
We have their music forever, they can rest in peace in that
Barrera's book The story of NICK DRAKE AND TIM BUCKLEY - a
2-in-1 paperback (ISBN 1 899882 55 3) - might be available
from: Ken Brooks, 54 The Avenue, Andover, Hampshire, England,
UK Publisher -Agenda Ltd Paperback: 100 pages (May 1997)