A few months before the Summer of Love (a long way from San Francisco, though) in a living-room-sized space above Sixth Avenue, Tim Buckley is 8 years, 3 months, and 23 days away from the eternal void. Of course, he has no way of knowing this. He knows he has one album out, a chance at making a second, and new songs blooming like time-elapsed tulips through his psyche. Out of the 16 songs he’ll perform this evening, 6 never made it to any other album. But that was Buckley for you. He infused brilliance into any direction he chose, and he changed directions like ordinary men change socks.
Buckley still fit the folk troubadour mold at this moment — his avant-garde drones and frankly kinky love life lie several New Years into the future. But he fills that mold with his own colors, soaring through his remarkable range (alarmingly heavy vibrato on the high held ones) as he relates loving, and losing, fascinating maidens of inexhaustible mystery. Some of these songs got studio polish on the studio album. How gratifying to learn that they don’t need it.
The music sounds brazen (to counteract its opaque subjects) and dripping with honesty, Buckley confessing every drop. He’s learning how to work a crowd, as everyone who doesn’t start at the top must. Introducing “Aren’t You the Girl” with a segmented joke, he has to laugh softly to himself because no one else laughs at all. By its ending held note and strum, the previously pattering applause swells to a storm. He doesn’t know how he’ll end up. But he knows where he’s going.
Album title: Live At The Folklore Center
Artist: Tim Buckley
Label: Tompkins Square
Songs: (1) Song for Jainie (2) I Never Asked to Be Your Mountain (3) Wings (4) Phantasmagoria in Two (5) Just Please Leave Me (6) Dolphins (7) I Can't See You (8) Troubadour (9) Aren't You the Girl (10) What Do You Do (He Never Saw You) (11) No Man Can Find the War (12) Carnival Song (13) Cripples Cry (14) If the Rain Comes (15) Country Boy (16) I Can't Leave You Loving Me