an ode to jeff buckley

i’ve decided to make my music odes a series, and for the second artist in the series, i have decided to focus in on the music, rather than the details of his life and how he grew prominent in the music industry. jeff buckley is an artist that devastatingly took over my life within a matter of a couple weeks. his influence on my own art has been prominent ever since that first listen. his voice, his writing, his demeanor- all have contributed to my own growth as a human. not only has he contributed to the inspiration and life of millions of teenagers like me, but he has changed the music industry and even what we define as masculine. please allow me to introduce an ode to jeff buckley.

music in genetics: the upbringing of jeff buckley

jeff buckley was born in anaheim, california, to the musician tim buckley and his ex-wife, mary guilbert. jeff’s father, tim, set the path for the musician’s life, cementing the idea of creating in his head from an early age. however, jeff was not raised by his own father, but instead his stepfather along with his mother. he lived in california with his half-brother during an upbringing he titled “rootless trailer trash.” before his biological father’s death, jeff went by scott moorhead. after his father’s passing, he changed his last name to buckley and chose to go by his biological first name, jeff. even though he was not brought up around his father for a large portion of his life, he still had so much musical influence around him. his mother was a pianist and cellist and his stepfather introduced him bands like led zeppelin, pink floyd, jimi hendrix, and the who. at 12, he decided to start creating his own music, and received his first guitar at age 13. throughout high school, he played in different bands and developed a love for progressive rock. after he graduated, he attended the musicians institute for one year, later claiming it was “the biggest waste of time.” 

the anticipation of a masterpiece: life before grace

before releasing his album, grace- which we will spend more than enough time talking about later in the blog- jeff passed his time in many smaller unrecognized bands before going solo. for six years after attending the musicians institute, jeff worked in a hotel while playing guitar in various bands that stretched across a large number of genres. throughout different trips to new york, jeff began writing the songs “mojo pin” and “grace,” two songs that would later be featured on grace. he then began to perform at small venues solo and started getting heavy attention from different record label executives. buckley then signed with columbia records and set off on recording his first EP, which would include four songs and a cover of van morrison’s “the way that young lovers do.” 

grace: the masterpiece

in august of 1994, buckley’s first and only studio album, grace, was released. it featured the following songs: mojo pin, grace, last goodbye, lilac wine, so real, hallelujah, lover you should’ve come over, corpus christi carol, eternal life, and dream brother. the album has been claimed to be one of the greatest of all time, and is listed in rolling stones’ top 500 albums of all time. the album has also achieved platinum 8x in australia and was ranked 99 in a list of the top 1,000 albums of all time. buckley’s voice is like no other, not even his father’s, and his writing transcends the hot topics of the 90s that other musicians at the time were still infatuated with. songs like “lover, you should’ve come over” have proven to overstep time, as its popularity is still prevalent in society today. “grace” will forever be known as buckley’s magnum opus, even gaining attention from folk music legend, bob dylan- who claimed buckley to be “one of the greatest songwriters of this decade.”

last goodbye: the end of jeff buckley, the beginning of the legacy

while swimming in the wolf river harbor- contained within the mississippi river- jeff buckley passed away due to an accidental drowning. he was 30 years old. after his death, numerous collections were released, including many previously unreleased songs. his life and work have been celebrated over the years, even gaining attraction recently from his song “lover, you should’ve come over.” his name has been referenced in a wide variety of films, and musicians today continue to draw inspiration from his unique sound and voice. jeff buckley will forever be an artist that completely changed how i interpret music, and now i’d like to introduce him to you too. here is “lilac wine.”

“lilac wine is sweet and heady, like my love”


Author: Erin Erter

erin (they/them) is a published writer who creates in their darkest moments.

4 thoughts on “an ode to jeff buckley”

  1. I have not heard his music but I’ll have to check it out. Your blogs have added to my list of new music to listen to all year.

  2. I can tell how deeply you feel about this artist and how much of an impact he had on your life, and it makes me want to listen to his music:)

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