Flowers In Time

Flowers In Time => Live Experiences => Topic started by: Jaysbee on October 19, 2007, 11:22:21 AM

Title: Busking in New York '91
Post by: Jaysbee on October 19, 2007, 11:22:21 AM
Found this neat little story posted by nutgroist on the 10th anniversary of Jeff's death:

Nutgroist (

I first heard Jeff Buckley in New York, busking in the pissing rain somewhere downtown (near Macy's? I forget) in the summer of 1991. I'd been obsessed with Hendrix for several years and was drawn to any musician who jammed on an electric guitar in the same way. It's that funky, gritty, swooping sound that pricked my ears as I first turned a corner in the rushour, looking for my Dad who I was meeting, and saw this young, good-looking guy with short, spiky hair and wearing a long grey trenchcoat. He was playing (if i remember rightly) a black guitar through a very loud portable amp and smiling broadly at the world going on in front of him. I stood and listened from across the street for a couple of minutes, absolutely transfixed by this guy who was really playing what he saw in front of him: The insane bustling humid downtown Manhattan people colony running through a furious torrent of weather. It had been a boiling summer and now was the moment where some serious steam was being let off

So I go up to him, chuck some coins into his hat and ask for a simple request:

"Can you play some Hendrix?"

And without missing a beat, he played the opening chords to The Wind Cries Mary. He grinned as he played the three famous chords and I smiled back, utterly disappointed he'd picked a soppy ballad when i'd really wanted to hear what he could do with Voodoo Chile or Machine Gun.
But in retrospect, I'm so glad he did because if he hadn't, I'd never have known i'd seen Jeff Buckley busking. You see, I didn't talk to him, never even asked him his name and 5 minutes later my Dad arrived and I was gone.

The first clue was that the first time I remembered this incident was when I bought Live at Sin-E a few years later and heard that guitar on The Way Young Lovers Do. And saw the front cover pic of the spiky haired gent on the front cover. But I didn't think it was actually him, just very familiar.

It wasn't until he died and I read the biography Dream Brother that I understood two key facts:

1. He was busking in New York in 1991
2. His favourite Hendrix song was 'The Wind Cried Mary' (his mum's name)

Hardly conclusive, but I know what I feel - and of course it doesn't really matter because I have his music and that's enough. Oh, and I saw him play for an hour at Glastonbury in 1995, one of the great musical experiences of my life (I only wish I'd got there earlier for Everything But The Girl, who brought him on as a special guest for a few songs. "Even greater" said my brother, later).

It's ironic, too, that when I was in New York, I'd just recently discovered his dad's music, having borrowed Dream Letter: Live in London from my local library, which had been blowing me away all summer. Every play drew me deeper into a world that at the time was deeply attractive to me: psychedelic folk; 12-string acoustic riffs; meandering soft electric solos counterpointing the vocals; deep, slinking jazz bass and stoned vibes but above all, the richest, tenderest, most exultant singing I'd ever heard. These songs were in the tradition of Dylan, Neil Young, John Martyn, Nick Drake, Pentangle, The Incredible String Band, CSN, Joni Mitchell et al but they grabbed me much, much more.

And if i'd have got his name, i'd have doubtless told him how much I loved his dad's music and that would have been the end of that. He was not a fan of his dad and nor would I be if he'd abandoned me at birth and spent the sum total of 6 weeks with me later in life before dying of a heroin overdose.

But that's my Jeff Buckley story and I'm sticking to it.

Title: Re: Busking in New York '91
Post by: Jaysbee on October 19, 2007, 11:37:36 AM
Note the reference to the Glasto '95 performance & the EBTG set appearence  ;)

Title: Re: Busking in New York '91
Post by: mrstrongarm on October 19, 2007, 12:55:30 PM
nice... these live experiences really capture it well... think i might paste the txt into the green mill post, just in case the blogs disappear at some point...