The good people of KCRW recently released a high-quality recut of phenomenally talented Jeff Buckley's session on Morning Becomes Eclectic from 1994. Buckley joined host Chris Douridas just a few months before the debut of his groundbreaking album, Grace, and just two and a half years before the singer drowned during a night swim the Mississippi river. In his discussions with Douridas, we learn about Buckley's intensity and dark humor. Buckley talks of his time living in Hollywood area, and recalls that KCRW "made his straight jobs a lot more enjoyable." As the estranged son of late crooner Tim Buckley, Jeff fought to emerge from the shadow of father he had never known. During this KCRW performance, which Douridas confesses that he wasn't prepared for, Buckley's voice surges with power, and gently lingers on the final whispers of a fleeting note. This session ruins your day with beauty. It's a performance that makes you drop everything, as you're caught in the fragile web strung by his guitar work and bitten by the piercing sting of his voice. Just try escape the specter of Buckley and those haunting lyrics of "So Real:" "I couldn't awake from the nightmare/ That sucked me in/ And pulled me under." In the tempests and eddies of "Mojo Pin," "Grace," and "Lover, You Should Have Come Over," we hear the echoes of Buckley's supernova, that burst of light, and the ache left behind.
Read Chris Douridas' reflection on the session after the jump.
The other day, I listened to this live performance with Jeff Buckley for the first time since it originally aired on Morning Becomes Eclectic back on July 28th, 1994. It's such a special session it's hard to believe it almost didn't happen.
I remember it being a very busy time for us at KCRW and I confess, I initially didn't respond positively to Columbia Records' efforts to get Jeff a spot on our show. At that point his debut album was still a month away from release, and I had only heard his EP, Live at Sin-E. Plus, KCRW DJ Liza Richardson had already had Jeff do an acoustic set on her late night show six months prior.
But after repeated attempts by Columbia's radio promotions man Marc Kordelos, I relented and Jeff came in with his band for a live set. A second confession: I didn't really feel prepared to speak to Jeff. I knew very little about him at that point, and I had booked the legendary JJ Cale to come in later that same day. Consequently, I had stayed up most of the night before preparing for that session. Clearly none of this mattered however. All misgivings fell away once the session began. I remember Jeff being extremely warm, very charismatic, and absolutely genuine. The performance exuded a rare intensity that is still very apparent sixteen years on.
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After we got off the air, Kordelos thanked me for not bringing up Jeff's father during the interview. "Huh?" I muttered "His father?" It was then that it dawned on me that Jeff was the 'son of.' Later, as Jeff's popularity grew it came out that he had such a bad relationship with his absent father that he didn't want anybody to know his lineage. I didn't know that at the time. But I think Jeff forever appreciated that at least at KCRW, we took his music at face value -- for better or for worse. And I am absolutely proud that we captured Jeff at the very beginning of his unveiling to the world.
- Chris Douridas
February 17, 2010