Jeff Buckley: Cover-to-Cover
March 14, 2016
Jeff Buckley’s story is one that, unfortunately, is often retold with a sigh, alluding to the tragic and unexpected loss of one of music’s most prodigious talents.
Though his debut album, ‘Grace’ is often revered as a classic, it remains his only complete recording – but as any Jeff Buckley fan will attest, this is only the beginning of the story. His ill-fated follow-up, which Buckley was recording at the time of his death, in addition to the plethora of live releases – notably ‘Live at Sin-é’ and ‘Mystery White Boy’ – flex an unyielding vocal dexterity and sonic breadth.
Though his reimagining of Leonard Cohen’s ‘Hallelujah’ has long been the most iconic example of Buckley’s heart-on-sleeve homage to his own musical heroes, his cover versions were not an uncommon occurrence and even now highlight that, for an artist that grew up in his father’s shadow (albeit unwittingly so), his own influences were as varied as they were distinctive.
Kick Out The Jams (originally by MC5)
Appears on ‘Live a L’Olympia’.
For a man known for his ethereal voice, the ferociously delivered hook that holds the backbone of the track is matched only by his energy on-stage.
The Boy with the Thorn in His Side (originally by The Smiths)
Confirming Jeff’s huge fandom of the Smiths, this is a newly uncovered version of the first track ever recorded by The Smiths for their album ‘The Queen is Dead’. Incidentally, Morrissey has named Jeff’s ‘Grace’ one of his favourite albums ever
I Know It’s Over (originally by The Smiths)
Appears on ‘So Real: Songs From Jeff Buckley’.
Buckley’s air of melancholia perfectly embodies Morrisey’s own, known for often covering The Smiths when performing live, and vocal fan of the band.
The song is also featured on the new compilation of previously unreleased Jeff Buckley recordings ‘You and I’.
Amy Redford, daughter of Robert Redford, served as executive producer on the music video:
“When I first heard Jeff, he gave me permission to feel fully and with contradiction,” Redford tells Rolling Stone. “He inspired me to fight for authenticity, and to feel confidence in simplicity. To collaborate on these songs coming to life, and to see the community of people who Jeff touched, has been a privilege.”
Je N’en Connais Pas La Fin (originally by Edith Piaf)
Appears on ‘Live at Sin-é’, ‘Live a L’Olympia’.
The delicacy of his delivery epitomises Edith Piaf’s principal appeal; that of a singer unburdened by accompaniment, unafraid to position her voice centre-stage.
Just Like A Woman (originally by Bob Dylan)
Appears on ‘Live at Sin-é’
An interpretation of the song like no other; pulling apart Dylan’s gently plodding rhythm and replacing with a swirling and poignant delicacy.
The song is also featured on You and I’.
Everyday People (originally by Sly & The Family Stone)
Sly & The Family Stone’s 1968 single was an upbeat plea for racial equality. It was covered by a multitude of artists, from Aretha Franklin to The Staple Singers. Arrested Development famously sampled it for their Top 10 hit “People Everyday”.
Satisfied Mind (originally by Joe Hayes & Jack Rhodes)
Appears on ‘Sketches For (My Sweetheart The Drunk)’
First recorded for a radio session, the track was played at Buckley’s own funeral, by request of his mother, which is no surprise given the life-affirming lyrical message.
Night Flight (originally by Led Zeppelin)
Jeff Buckley and Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page were notable fans of each others’ work. Buckley cited his influences as “Love, anger, depression, joy and dreams…and Zeppelin” in the Grace EPK, and Page called him “the best singer that had appeared…in two decades.”
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