Songs To No One 1991-1992
Hymne à l’Amour – (Jeff Buckley / Gary Lucas) –
How Long Will It Take – (Pat Kelly) –
Mojo Pin – (Jeff Buckley / Gary Lucas) –
Song To No One – (Jeff Buckley / Gary Lucas) –
Grace – (Jeff Buckley / Gary Lucas) –
Satisfied Mind – (Joe Hayes/Jack Rhodes) –
Cruel – (Jeff Buckley / Gary Lucas) –
She Is Free – (Melody & Lyrics by Jeff Buckley / Chords & Arrangement by Gary Lucas) –
Harem Man – (Jeff Buckley / Gary Lucas) –
Malign Fiesta (No Soul) – (Jeff Buckley /Gary Lucas) –
Grace – (Jeff Buckley / Gary Lucas) –
The time period from the spring of ’91 to the spring of ’92 was one of the most explosive and experimental of Jeff Buckley’s life up to that point. The preceding LA years had been dominated by efforts to hone his considerable guitar chops and embryonic songwriting efforts (“Eternal Life” and “Unforgiven” [a.k.a. “Last Goodbye”], early “Mojo Pin” lyrics), and collaborations with other musicians, creating a variety of musical projects of genre-spanning esthetics. Though we could only suspect it at the time, the penultimate moment of revelation came on the stage of St. Ann’s performance space in Brooklyn, New York, at the tribute concert to his father, Tim, in April 1991. Jeff’s solo performances of “I Never Asked to Be Your Mountain” and “Once I Was” stunned the audience, and brought him to the attention of some very important people in attendance that night, including ex-Captain Beefheart guitarist Gary Lucas, also performing in the tribute. Jeff walked away with his pockets stuffed with business cards. What few knew or saw was that St. Ann’s was also the scene of perhaps the most important moment in Jeff’s life – when he met Rebecca Moore, then working as St. Ann’s production assistant. A multi-talented artist in her own right, she became the love of Jeff’s life, the spark that ignited a profound transformation. More than any other motive, it was to be with her that he made the permanent move to New York City in the fall of 1991, just in time to celebrate his twenty-fifth birthday. Rebecca introduced Jeff to a circle of poets, composers, actors, artists, musicians, and playwrights. Ensconced in his new surroundings, he performed in an eclectic assortment of projects and found himself at ease with a new set of friends he lovingly described as “intoxicated by their own eccentricity”. He also started singing like he had never sung before. It was during this period that he found his voice – the voice he’d tried to deny as a teenager, and now dared to take possession of on his own terms.
Whatever self-consciousness had held him back before dissolved into thin air. He was on fire, very much in love, and deliriously happy.
Accepting the invitation to join the Gods & Monsters project, created in 1989 as a performance vehicle for Gary Lucas and a changing list of side artists, was for Jeff a chance to be seen and heard in the downtown music scene of Manhattan – an opportunity to join forces with a formidable talent. Jeff dove into the challenge of transforming some of Gary’s instrumental compositions into sing-able songs with soaring melodies and penetrating lyrics [tracks 3,4,5,7,8,9,11] – the two most notable results being the songs “Grace” and “Mojo Pin”, both of which appeared on the only full length Jeff Buckley album released during his lifetime, GRACE (Columbia-1994), which is listed among VH1’s “100 Greatest Albums of Rock & Roll”.
Though comprised of truly fine musicians, this incarnation of Gods & Monsters never quite “jelled”. When the first choice of sidemen didn’t work for Jeff, Gary hired Tony Maimone & Anton Fier. Then, Jeff declined signing a partnership agreement with Gary that would have prevented either partner from taking on any outside projects without the approval of the other. This was too confining for the younger man, just beginning to plumb the depths of his own talents. On March 13th, 1992, Gods & Monsters performed at St. Ann’s, which was a tacit showcase for Imago Records, whose reps were in attendance. Though the audience was enthusiastic, the contention between Jeff’s vocals and the other instruments was overwhelming. To make matters worse, the following Monday, the New York Times published a lukewarm review of the show. Jeff’s discomfort with the situation came to a head on the night of a G&M gig at Knitting Factory on March 22. Jeff had recently informed Gary he wanted to leave the band and the tension between the two was palpable enough that more than one observer made note of the effect. To their credit, in spite of their personal issues, Jeff and Gary performed with unusual abandon that night. The three best moments of that gig are represented on this album [tracks 6, 7, 10], thanks to Nick Hill and WFMU. At the end of the G&M set, when the rest of the band left the stage, Jeff stayed behind to sing a surprise solo encore. It was an audacious act – a spur-of-the-moment emancipation proclamation. However stimulating the collaboration with Gary might have been for Jeff, however much he respected his friend, the desire to be his own man, to come into his own, proved far more powerful.
If not for Jeff’s untimely death in 1997, the source recordings for this album might never have been considered for commercial release. On the other hand, they are, along with the archival ephemerae gathered by his estate, the vibrant remains of a phenomenal soul in transition – a life that was so very promising, inspirational, and excruciatingly brief. That fact alone gives us good reason to listen.
[Source material: Dream Brother: the Lives and Music of Jeff & Tim Buckley, David Browne/HarperCollins; Archives, Estate of Jeff Buckley; “The Arrival of Jeff Buckley”, Bill Flanagan/Musician Magazine-Feb. 1994; “A Singer With a Voice Beyond His Years”, Peter Watrous/New York Times-March 16, 1992, “100 Greatest Albums of Rock & Roll”, VH1-USA, January-2001.]
1. “Hymne à l’Amour” – duet; rehearsal tape; recorded at Lucas residence, New York City; 2/92 * 11:30
2. “How Long Will It Take” – duet; soundboard tape; recorded at CBGB’s, New York City; 4/23/92 * 5:17
3. “Mojo Pin” – duet; soundboard tape; recorded at the Knitting Factory, New York City; 4/18/92 * 5:44
4. “Song To No One” – duet; rehearsal tape; recorded at Lucas residence, New York City; 10/91 * 3:41
5. “Grace” – band; studio demo, recorded at Krypton Studios, New York City; 8/17/91 ** 4:15
6. “Satisfied Mind” – solo; live broadcast from the Knitting Factory on Nicholas Hill’s Music Faucet, WFMU; 3/22/92 **** 3:24
7. “Cruel” – band; live broadcast from the Knitting Factory on Nicholas Hill’s Music Faucet, WFMU; 3/22/92 *** 5:29
8. “She Is Free” – duet; rehearsal tape; recorded at Lucas residence, New York City; 1/92 ***** 4:30
9. “Harem Man” – duet; rehearsal tape; recorded at Lucas residence, New York City; 1/92 * 5:45
10. “Malign Fiesta (No Soul)” – band; live broadcast from the Knitting Factory on Nicholas Hill’s Music Faucet, WFMU; 3/22/92 *** 4:21
11. “Grace” – duet; soundboard tape; recorded at club Roulette, New York City; 4/5/92 * 6:27
All songs written by Jeff Buckley and Gary Lucas…
Except: “Hymne à l’ Amour” (Edith Gassion/Marguerite Monnot; France Music Corp.- ASCAP), “How Long Will It Take” (Pat Kelly; Beverly Music-ASCAP) & “Satisfied Mind” (Joe Hayes/Jack Rhodes; Fort Knox Music, Inc./Trio Music Co., Inc.-BMI).
All songs by Jeff Buckley and Gary Lucas published by Sony-ATV Songs/El Viejito Music (BMI), and Gary Lucas Music (BMI), except “Grace” and “Mojo Pin” published by Sony-ATV Songs/El Viejito Music (BMI), and Songs of Universal Inc., MCA/Gary Lucas Music (BMI).
* Jeff Buckley – vocals
Gary Lucas – guitars
** Jeff Buckley – vocals, harmonica
Gary Lucas – guitar
Jared Nickerson – bass
Tony Lewis – drums
*** Jeff Buckley – vocal, guitar
Gary Lucas – guitar
Tony Maimone – bass
Anton Fier – drums
**** Jeff Buckley – vocal, guitar
Bill Frisell – guitars
***** Jeff Buckley – vocal
Gary Lucas – guitar
With SEX MOB:
Steven Bernstein – trumpet
Briggan Krauss – baritone saxophone
Tony Sherr – bass
Kenny Wollensen – drums
Brian Mitchell – organ
Original tracks produced by Jeff Buckley & Gary Lucas; except tracks 6, 7, & 10 produced by Nicholas Hill.
Compilation produced by Hal Willner. Co-Producer: Sascha Von Oertzen
Executive Producer: Michael Dorf.
Edited by Hal Willner and Sascha Von Oertzen at the Knitting Factory Studios, New York City.
Additional recording on tracks 7 & 8 at Peter Karl Studio, Brooklyn, NY; mixed at Shelter Island Studio, New York City. Produced by Hal Willner; recorded and mixed by Sascha Von Oertzen.
“The Music Faucet Recordings” engineered by Irene Trudell.
Mastered by Emily Lazar at The Lodge, New York City.
Sound consultant: Martin Brumbach
Bill Frisell appears courtesy of Nonesuch Records.