Photo by Mikio Ariga.

Quotes from Jeff

“Above all do not give yourself airs. Breaking the moment of past habits is the challenge here: In the life of the spirit you are always at the beginning.”

“If you feel blocked, do not turn to others, but look inside, in silence, for the enemy of your progress.”

“It’s all about supporting the voice – any real guitar player should know that. Rhythm and melody are the king and queen and it’s all to support the voice – ask Keith Richards, ask Robert Johnson. Because of my interest in jazz, modality and harmonies were all things I enjoyed, but playing it on the guitar I just sounded like a complete wanker, some lounge bar guy. Then I got really into tunings and that’s how I found my cornucopia. I use loads of tunings and that’s where you get different and interesting tonalitites whilst still being guitar-ish, and simultaneously creating texture and drama.”

“I’m convinced that the guitar must have been invented in a bar by some drunken Spaniard, some guy who’d just been kicked out of his house. I mean, you listen to it – you get it in tune in G and it’s never in tune in E major, and when you get in tune E major it’s not in tune in G. It’s wierd. All those blues guys used to tune the G string a little bit sharper, and though that makes it out of tune, it tempers the sound in other ways. It’s a beautifully chaotic instrument.”

“The crucifix is a monument to what people really truly want to believe about life – the sick notion that suffering is the ultimate expression of this life.
Not dance, not making love, but sacrifice.
That’s some evil shit.”

“When I was younger I wanted to be Miles Davis. He gave me a really deep love of jazz, the stuff where the composition has a seduction to it. Fusion or jazz rock just annoys the hell out of me, especially the fact that it’s still here today. All I see there is a lot of people who are afraid of what real music is. I don’t see any heart, I just see a lot of chops and whizzkid bullshit, and a lot of damage being done. Miles was naked, very romantic.”

“Rentless, endless joy peaking into tears, resting in calmness, a simmering beauty. If you let yourself listen with the whole of yourself, you will have the pure feeling of flight while firmly rooted to the ground. Your soul can fly outward, stringed to your ribcage like a shimmering kite in the shape of an open hand. Be still and listen to the evidence of your own holiness.”

“Our suffering is peeling off and revealing a brand new skin, a new power. Love heals all wounds and not just time alone.”

“I admit it, for a time I delved into the evils of what being a guitar player can bring, what I call the God of Wank syndrome. Every kid does it. When I first got a guitar I used to put my marbles on it and listen to them rolling down my guitar – that’s more like what I play like now. The guitar is a mysterious instrument, but a lot of the mystery has gone or has been hidden. It’s like when people have real hard, meaningless sex all the time they become insensitive – to me that’s like what the guitar has become. But that doesn’t mean that aspect doesn’t exist – you’ve just got to find it.”

“I like low stage volume. I want the idea and the sound of the idea to intoxicate–not the voltage. Otherwise it’s mindless thrusting that brings nothing but repulsion. Once you have stacks of Marshalls, you need stacks of people to take care of them. Plus you have to jump around and get nipple piercings.”

“The thing is that I also like to have lyrics that are inclusive, that give you space to be inside them, to put your experience on to them, so that they can move through other moments.”

“There’s a way of writing where you just include all the streets around your house and all the people you meet. You actually name them autobiographically in the song. Well, that song is very hard to travel through time. It may not last in its meaning. It may not touch every time because those people and events fade away and they may mean something to your life and your understanding of that life. I like things to be more universal. It’s a balance between…Obviously it’s got to grab some skin from me.”

“I like the way that songs sort of have light, and sort of travel around despite you. It’s good. It helps to have songs that you love, that you can be inside. It’s good. It’s part of the invention.”

“On the outside of that you can say that I find great joy in the things that are sad. That’s the way emotions are in people. They fall down on you and there’s no way to get out, except to go through it. There’s no way you can control it, there’s no essay you can write to answer yourself out of it. It just soaks you like the rain. There’s nothing you can do. Then it’s gone and then another comes around. But tears are not all I deal with. I’ll leave that to the next album.”

“If I wasn’t able to do this, I think I would really lay down and die. Music comes from a very primal, twisted place. When a person sings, their body, their mouth, their eyes, their words, their voice says all these unspeakable things that you really can’t explain but that mean something anyway. People are completely transformed when they sing; people look like that when they sing or when they make love. But it’s a weird thing–at the end of the night I feel strange, because I feel I’ve told everybody all my secrets.”

“I don’t have any allegiance to an organized religion; I have an allegiance to the gifts that I find for myself in those religions… I’d rather be non-denominational, except for music. I prefer to learn everything through music. If you want divinity, the music in every human being and their love for music is pretty much it. It’s the big indication of their spirituality and their ability to love and make love, or feel pain or joy, and really manifest it, really be real. But I don’t believe in a big guy with a beard on a throne, telling us that we’re bad; I certainly don’t believe in original sin. I believe in the opposite of that: you have an Eden immediately from the time you are born, but as you are conditioned by your caretakers and your surroundings, you may lose that original thing. Your task is to get back to it, to claim responsibility for your own perfection.”

“In order to live my ideal life…non-evasion and pro-confrontation ORIGINALITY–as far as conducting the total awareness life in which you plug into “now” and constantly push ahead, constantly develop and grow. The thing is that I want it all next week, right now, this millisecond…life should sparkle and rush, burn with fire hot like melting steel, like freeze-burn from a comet.”

On Life: “The most audacious thing I could possibly state in this day and age is that life is worth living. It’s worth being bashed against. It’s worth getting scarred by. It’s worth pouring yourself over every one of it’s hot coals.”

On Music Videos :: “It’s more like, it’s definately a promotional device. Like there’s you, there’s Eddie Vedder, there’s toothpaste, there’s pimple cream, there’s Nirvana, there’s Weezer”

On His Notebooks :: “Before I left NY for the last time all I was obsessing about in my notebooks was that there’s this…this place I want to get to. And I was remarking to myself that there are no teachers. There was nobody to show me. They weren’t alive”

On Sin-é :: “I made the audience a part of the music like they were samples on a record.”

“Sensitivity isn’t about being wimpy. It’s about being so painfully aware that a flea landing on a dog is like a sonic boom”

“The music business is the most childish business in the world.”

“We are spirits and the whole tension is that we don’t know that we are. Yet music is able to touch this.”

On Songwriting and Vocals :: “Dreams.I have notebooks everywhere I go. I’m always day dreaming. Or things that happen to me…It’s just about being alive, my songs. It’s about the voice carrying much more information than words do.”

On Tim Buckley: “Robert Plant and Jimmy Page have much more influence on me than he ever did. That was the first voice I really fell in love with. Young Robert Plant back when he sounded like Janis(Joplin).” “The only thing my father ever gave me was a fleeting glimpse.”

On the Sin-é EP: “It’s like a love letter to that place. I love Sin-é. I did like five and a half hours worth of material. It was just like a learning ground for me for some very specific things that I wanted to get in touch with. I didn’t even mean to be signed. It’s a preview of things to come, that’s just a phase in my life.”

On Nina Simone: “I love her taste and her sorrow. But it’s not just sorrow, there’s a lot of irony. And when she sings upbeat tunes, she rocks.”

“I don’t write my music for Sony. I write it for the people who are screaming down the road crying to a full-blast stereo.”

“If you want to get somewhere in this life, learn to draw beautiful women.”

“I need you like the tiger in the public cage does crave to live outside again.”

“In love we are all brothers and sisters”

“Be my valentine and I’ll return, your hungry cat”

“We are born to live, we are born to understand, we are born to carry a cursed pattern and be transformed by pain”

“Emblems of marriage, the touch of her tongue on the roof of the mouth is enough of a seal.”

“I am a man enclosed in quotation marks, ever since I took a drink of you.”

“Knowing you I can’t believe that true friendship is just a dream and nobody can tell me that loving you is just my weakness.”

“But the devil has my address and he knows where I live. He sends me money and fancy postcards and the poems he leaves are so charming. They say “You …….. Are in Big Trouble.””

“My skin is tight underneath the tear, dried upon my cheeks the night I cried.

When I smiled Good Morning to you, my crow’s feet let you know that I lied.

Please let me give these gifts of mine to the woman who eyes shined on my back as I slept. I left you because I loved you.”

“Turn your head away from the screen, my friend. It will tell you nothing more.”

Quotes from Friends of Jeff

Ben Harper (Canada’s Jam!):

“Jeff is one of my favorite musicians and singers of all time. Never have I seen such infinite musical potential in anyone…”

 

U2’s Bono (MOJO Magazine):

“Jeff Buckley was a pure drop in an ocean of noise”.

 

Jimmy Page (MOJO Magazine):

“The album that I’ve been listening to for the last 18 months is Grace by Jeff Buckley. He is a great, great singer. He has such an emotional range, doing songs by Benjamin Britten and Leonard Cohen as well as his own – such technique and command.

When the Page/Plant tour hit Australia, we saw [the band] and we were knocked out. It was very moving. Someone heckled him from the audience – ‘Stop playing that heavy stuff!’ – but he made the perfect reply: ‘Music should be like making love – sometimes you want it soft and tender, other times you want it hard and aggressive.’ I felt he paid us a great compliment with his music in that style.”

 

Elizabeth Fraser of the Cocteau Twins:

“I’d love to sing with Jeff Buckley … He is currently making his first album, and if it’s anything like a radio session I heard by him, it should be amazing. He’s written this song called ‘Grace’, which literally makes the hair on my neck stand on end. I was sweating like a fucking June bride when I first heard him. Music has never done that to me before.”

 

Eddie Vedder (Monkeywrench Radio):

“Man I had this Guy with me once … and we were sittin’ down and talkin’ and jammin’… He played has version of Indifference for me… man I tell ya… I’ ll never forget the way He did it… I was just fuckin’ speechless… one of the most memorable moments of my life… I just wish I had seen him more.”

 

Ben Folds (CMJ):

“My singing used to be awful,” admits Folds. “I don’t have Jeff Buckley’s voice…It can be kind of scary. You’re on the radio next to — well, on the shelf next to Jeff Buckley. We’re in the B’s. People can flip through and pick up his record instead and hear a lot better singer. He has that knack…”

 

Elvis Costello (MOJO Magazine):

“… Not everyone can get up and sing something they take a liking to and make it their own, sing true to their heart and be curious about all different strains of music. Corpus Christi Carol was a completely conceived interpretation. I’d never heard the piece before and when I heard the original I realized what Jeff had done was even more amazing. He’d taken it into his own world. That’s something my favorite classical musicians can do, be themselves but use all that expertise to make the music more beautiful. Jeff did that naturally. Only a handful of people are capable of that…

My last memory of him was at (a) little party in the green room … There were all these people sitting round Jeff who’d never met before…all talking and laughing about music. He’d charmed everybody. I’d much rather remember that than anything”.

 

Joan Osborne (Letter posted to the internet June 19th, 1997):

“…There was a period when I couldn’t get through the day without hearing him sing ‘Hallelujah’ 3 or 4 times. He had a one in a billion voice and an emotionally piercing guitar style and…..I know, everyone is saying this, but it hurts so much to lose an artist who was capable of so much before he’d had a chance to do his best work. I guess I should be thankful for what there is: the album “Grace”, his first EP, the bootleg live cassettes floating around, and whatever SONY will inevitably scrape together for release. It’s a fucking shame.”