Tim Buck­ley - ‘Happy/Sad’ (1969)

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - NEWS - Donal Di­neen

Tim Buck­ley’s fa­ther was a dec­o­rated sec­ond World War vet­eran whose par­ents im­mi­grated from Cork. His mother Elaine was Ital­ian-Amer­i­can and both were fond of feed­ing their beloved son mu­sic. He was nur­tured by it, fed all the finest works by all the great­est singers and en­cour­aged ev­ery step of the way to fol­low in their foot­steps should he so de­sire. He had the world at his feet and he was free to roam. The fam­ily’s shared love of mu­sic was the glue that held them to­gether, but there were deep fis­sures too. For all the light he was pointed to­wards, an un­shak­able dark­ness seem to shadow his ev­ery move.

Some would say he was blessed and oth­ers, cursed.

His ticket to ride was is­sued young and the free­dom he en­joyed in­stilled a rest­less­ness and taste for ex­per­i­men­ta­tion that would yield some ex­tra­or­di­nary mu­sic, but also pre­cip­i­tate his tragic early demise from a heroin over­dose in 1975.

His prodi­gious tal­ent with the gui­tar and multi-oc­tave voice drew other mu­si­cians to him, and by his late teens he had as­sem­bled a troupe that would in­clude a life­long col­lab­o­ra­tor in gui­tarist Lee Un­der­wood.

He was still only 20 when his break­out sec­ond al­bum Good­bye and Hello was re­leased. The jazz in­flec­tions, the po­etry and the songs in dif­fer­ent tim­ings were strong hints that the mav­er­ick soul was al­ready find­ing its ex­pres­sion. But there was more and bet­ter to come.

The year of 1969 was a good one to be liv­ing out any sort of dream. Tim Buck­ley’s tem­plate for his third LP was founded on rever­ies of new colours and pos­si­bil­i­ties. It was where his skills at us­ing his voice as an in­stru­ment reached its apogee. The full range from bari­tone to high falsetto was given free reign. When the or­ches­trated beauty of the sound con­spired to match it word for word, pure magic emerged.

The soar­ing Buzzin’ Fly was the record’s peak and one of Buck­ley’s finest mo­ments. It was a paean to the power of love. It would take a hard­ened heart to deny that he didn’t mean ev­ery word. Hearts were burn­ing at a great height for all to see.

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