Friday, June 3, 2011

303. Grace. I heard there was a secret chord.

Album: Grace.
Artist: Jeff Buckley
Year: 1994
Genre: Pop


  1. Mojo Pin
  2. Grace
  3. Last Goodbye
  4. Lilac Wine
  5. So Real
  6. Hallelujah
  7. Lover, You Should've Come over
  8. Corpus Christi Carol
  9. Eternal Life
  10. Dream Brother

Death is now, and will always be, a brilliant career move. Being dead lets your work live forever with the image you intended to give it, untarnished by what you yourself might have become. Jim Morrison will live eternally as a charismatic young man in leather pants. If he was alive today he would probably be an overweight judge on American Idol or possible a sad caricature of himself singing Riders on the Storm for the ten thousandth time in Vegas somewhere. But in death he lives forever.

Jeff Buckley’s untimely demise before he could even complete a follow up to his debut album allows him to live forever as the handsome but tragic figure on the album cover. A few years after Grace was released Buckley died in an accidental drowning while swimming in a river in Memphis. His family insist drugs and alcohol had nothing to do with his untimely and blameless death. They don’t often point out the fact that he went swimming while fully clothed and wearing cowboy boots, which does take the edge of the blameless bit somewhat.

Grace was the only album Buckley gave the world before he died and it serves as a testament to what a considerable talent we lost. Jeff’s voice in itself is an impressive instrument as you would no doubt know from his performance of Hallelujah which was once a Leonard Cohen song but quickly became forever associated with Buckley. His version has been used in countless film and television soundtracks and is often at the top of the list whenever anyone talk about the greatest cover versions of all time. Not many people realise that Buckley is really doing a cover of John Cale’s arrangement and choice of verses rather than Cohen’s original rendition. Cale and Cohen both deserve a slice of Buckley’s credit.

But if anyone has bought Grace expecting a lot of songs in the same vein as Hallelujah they would have been sadly disappointed. The rest of the album is more abrasive and caustic in tone and less accessible to mainstream audiences. While Hallelujah grabs you almost instantly and impresses immediately, the rest of the album takes longer to appreciate and enjoy. But Grace is worth the effort. Give it a try with an open mind, it's worth the effort.

Influenced by: Tim Buckley, Leonard Cohen and John Cale
Influenced: A "Swimming prohibited" sign at the edge of a river.

Highlight: Hallelujah
Lowlight: Eternal Life

Favourite Amazon Customer Review Quote: "I was drawn to this CD because of the repeated use of Hallelujah in various TV shows. I'm sorry to say that none of the other songs on the CD come even close to the appeal of that Leonard Cohen classic."

-this is a pretty common sentiment over on Amazon. There are a lot of disgruntled CD owners feeling cheated that they didn't get an album full of Halleluias.

So do you say Grace or not? Let me know below.

1 comment:

  1. I must say, it's true that this album gets better with time. For a year, it has been sitting on the shelf in my mini-box set (w/ the Mystery White Boy live compilation), and have only taken it out infrequently. Even so, I still haven't got into it completely, but it's growing on me. It's honestly a really difficult listen, I'm not gonna lie. And yeah of course I LOVE Hallelujah. And obviously his voice is incredible. And the mastering on the original CD is quite amazing too.