Twenty years ago today, musician Jeff Buckley gifted us with a work of art entitled Grace. This masterpiece, full-length, studio album fixed this singer songwriter as a permanent star in music’s solar system.
Raised in California, it was in New York City and Brooklyn that Buckley found the inspiration to write the songs that would have him soaring high, making him a much loved and respected figure among fans, industry colleagues, and music critics.
In Manhattan, he was a local fixture and anyone lucky enough to catch him live at one of the local lounge and coffeehouse venues he’d play in the East Village or on his world tour were in for sublime treat. While he was a feast for the eyes, it was the chords that tripped off his electric guitar and the ethereal voice that fell from his lips that made Buckley unforgettable.
While his original sound set him apart, Buckley also covered everyone from Nina Simone to Van Morrison. A mark of his genius was his rendition of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah,” a song he truly made his own. While endlessly covered by other musicians, it was his version that made it into the United States Library of Congress National Recording Registry.
He was often compared to his troubadour father Tim Buckley, who died in the 1975 of a heroin overdose. But the younger Buckley did his best to distance himself from his father’s shadow.
For music fans everywhere, May 29th, 1997 was a heartbreaker. It’s the day the young musician with the massive career ahead of him died in a drowning accident in Memphis while recording his second album. For anyone who connected to his music, it was a tragic loss.
Much has changed on the music scene over the last 20 years, but Buckley has left us with a stunning work of art that fans around the world are still celebrating today.
A kingdom for a kiss upon your shoulder, Jeff.