Letters

Letters 08-03-2015

Real Brownfields Deserve Dollars I read with interest the story on Brownfield development dollars in the July 20 issue. I applaud Dan Lathrop and other county commissioners who voted “No” on the Randolph Street project...

Hopping Mad Carlin Smith is hopping mad (“Will You Get Mad With Me?” 7-20-15). Somebody filed a fraudulent return using his identity, and he’s not alone. The AP estimates the government “pays more than $5 billion annually in fraudulent tax refunds.” Well, many of us have been hopping mad for years. This is because the number one tool Congress has used to fix this problem has been to cut the IRS budget –by $1.2 billion in the last 5 years...

Just Grumbling, No Solutions Mark Pontoni’s grumblings [recent Northern Express column] tell us much about him and virtually nothing about those he chooses to denigrate. We do learn that Pontoni may be the perfect political candidate. He’s arrogant, opinionated and obviously dimwitted...

A Racist Symbol I have to respond to Gordon Lee Dean’s letter claiming that the confederate battle flag is just a symbol of southern heritage and should not be banned from state displays. The heritage it represents was the treasonous effort to continue slavery by seceding from a democratic nation unwilling to maintain such a consummate evil...

Not So Thanks I would like to thank the individual who ran into and knocked over my Triumph motorcycle while it was parked at Lowe’s in TC on Friday the 24th. The $3,000 worth of damage was greatly appreciated. The big dent in the gas tank under the completely destroyed chrome badge was an especially nice touch...

Home · Articles · News · Books · Dream Brother: The Lives and Music...
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Dream Brother: The Lives and Music of Jeff and Tim Buckley Tops a List of Folk Lore

Nancy Sundstrom - August 1st, 2002
“My grandfather had a beautiful voice. Irish tenor. Beautiful. Too much of a military hardass to deal with his own and his son‘s talents. I wish it were otherwise. I love you, you poor b-------.... With a father like this man, it is no wonder that Tim Buckley was afraid to come back to me. So afraid to be my father. Because his only paradigm for fatherhood was a deranged lunatic with a steel plate in his head.... I know that he must have been scared s------- to think he might possibly become like his father. Scared s------- of treating me the way his father treated him and his family. Can you imagine the heartbreak? The useless, s----- torture day in, day out?“

-- Jeff Buckley, Journal Entry, August 9, 1995

A recent rediscovery of Tim Buckley’s blisteringly erotic 1972 album, “Greetings From L.A.“ reminded me that I was long overdue to read David Browne’s acclaimed biography from earlier this year of Buckley and his son, Jeff, whose 1997 death by drowning eerily mirrored Tim’s own demise of a drug overdose in 1975.
“Dream Brother: The Lives and Music of Jeff and Tim Buckley“ proved to be engrossing, well-researched, and haunting - a dual biography of a father and son who never really knew each other, but were clearly more similar than not.
Writer Browne had his work cut out for him in creating textured portraits of two emotionally complex human beings who were also influential, original musicians, let alone relatives. Though products of different generations, each was an immensely talented folk rock cult icon whose other trademarks included artistic sensitivity and startlingly good looks. They were also equally doomed, damaged, and destined to never reach their full potential.
Father Tim began the 1960s as a quintessential folk troubadour, but emerged from the decade as a musical pioneer and offstage bad boy who bucked systems, challenged every bit of authority he encountered, and pushed limits, especially when it came to matters of carnality and illegal substances. Buckley broke new musical ground with each project he tackled, and while his genius was recognized, commercial success evaded him, something that distressed and defeated him and perhaps encouraged his increasing reliance on drugs like heroin. Quite an accomplished womanizer, his failed first marriage produced a son, Jeff, with whom he never forged a relationship.
Son Jeff was seen as a lyrical poet whose 1994 album “Grace“ revealed that he had clearly inherited his father’s musical talent and ability to electrify an audience during live performances. Within short order, especially as he fought for privacy under the increasing glare of celebrity, he demonstrated that he also had Tim’s penchant for erratic behavior. He had come to Memphis to record his eagerly awaited second album when an undertow in the Mississippi River in which he was swimming took his life. He was 30-years-old, “just two years older than was the errant father whom Jeff rejected for rejecting him.“
The ironies of their lives, talents, and deaths are explored in great detail by Browne, who drew from interviews, many exclusive, with many of the closest associates of both men, as well as letters, journals, lyrics, and unreleased recordings. Particularly poignant is Jeff’s inability to avoid some of the same twisting, unpredictable roads traveled by his father, a man for whom he truly had deep and unresolved issues. At the heart of the story is their music, which in both cases, was always about searching, and was often as bittersweet as it was exhilarating.
If “Dream Brother“ is of interest, then so might be a few other selections, starting with the hot-off-the-presses “Wished for Song: A Portrait of Jeff Buckley“ by photographer Merri Cyr, which contains 160 pages of candid shots of the singer.
Another recommendation is a bit older, though most similar in nature - “Nick Drake“ by English journalist Patrick Humphries, who has also written acclaimed biographies of Paul Simon, Bob Dylan, and Richard Thompson. The enigmatic Drake seems to have rediscovered lately when his lovely “Pink Moon“ song was used for a car commercial, and even though he released only three albums, he has long been credited as a seminal influence by artists such as REM, Elton John, and Paul Weller.
Depressed and anxious most of his life, which ended at age 26 in 1974, Drake, like Tim Buckley, died of an overdose. Humphries‘ chronicles Drake’s often bizarre life through exclusive interviews with friends, colleagues, and musicians who knew and worked with him, and while some of the anecdotes are jarring (such as Drake’s tendency to show up to perform in a highly inebriated state and make the most weird entrance he could), Humphries effectively evokes a place and time as he dissects what gave Drake’s music its power and beauty.
Lastly, “Positively 4th Street: The Lives and Times of Joan Baez, Bob Dylan, Mimi Baez Farina, and Richard Farina“ by David Hajdu earned a spot on Amazon.com’s Best of 2001 list for its detailed, yet lyrical accounting of the wild Greenwich Village folk scene during the time that the foursome listed above were the reigning royalty.
Whether you’re a folk music fan or not, or a Dylan or Baez fan or not, this is one ripping good read, as the Brits say. Gossipy, provocative, and tragic in parts, this is a not-to-be-missed account of how four quite fabulous young people defined a bohemian lifestyle and sound, the likes of which haven’t been equaled since.

 
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