I searched for some new music to hear for my hike this morning up in Runyon Canyon and noticed that The Cry of Love by Jimi Hendrix had been reissued! It’s the first posthumous release (six months after his death) and had been out of print for years though all the tracks were on the 1997 album First Rays of the New Rising Sun. That album was supposed to be the recreation of the record Jimi had planned at the time of his death. But I had grown up listening to The Cry of Love on vinyl and First Rays meandered too much for me. So this morning was the first time I’d heard Cry in sequence for years. I don’t know it as well as Abbey Road but it was almost that same feeling, that satisfaction of a sequence of music you’ve known forever, that favorite couch in your parents’ house where you plop your hand down and feel the little hole that’s been repaired and takes you back to Sunday afternoons with nothing to do. There’s just a profound comfort in this record for me. It doesn’t have the hits, obviously, but the music is uniformly strong and it’s a guitar lovers dream. I found myself hiking with my fingers involuntarily playing along like I did as a kid and my lips moving as if I were singing these songs in the studio in 1969 in Jimi’s place. (If you’re a singer, you probably have felt that sensation when listening back to a track you’ve recorded, where you can’t help but feel the words shaped in your mouth as you listen.) This album is that internalized for me. And I think it’s the funkiest record he ever did. That meant something to me, too, as a kid.
So I felt a little silly when I noticed all these outward expressions of joy, but I tried to keep it subtle as I climbed the hills….
Listen and allow yourself to be transported.-->
I use podcasts to help me fall asleep on restless nights. With the earbuds in place, they block out the traffic, coyotes and other noises of the canyon. I usually know not to listen to music or interviews with musicians because that usually riles me to want to get up and work (then fret about lack of sleep…) But I ignored the rule and put on this episode of Unfictional (from KCRW).
It was a huge flashback telling a story of a day just about six weeks after we’d played together in Los Angeles. The snippets of the radio performance are breathtaking. And hearing his speaking voice in the interview, especially when talking of his influences reminded me so much of that evening upstairs with him and his mother at Luna Park. That was the fresh Jeff, excited and easy to share things that worked for him, inspired him. That was the guy who helped me get a foothold in New York by sharing the places he loved to play, etc. And then the story goes on to a sold out show in London, to the point that they had to book a last minute gig at what’s now the 12 Bar Club on Denmark St. which had the people who’d been waiting outside at the original club follow Jeff down the street lined with music shops to that room I played in just last month. The person in the story talks about the tiny balcony where my friends, Julian and Wendy, were just sitting and I think about how exciting it must’ve been to see Jeff on that day.
Yes, that was the career I wanted, and I had my moments of pin drop crowds and times playing for the people lined up outside to see me on Sunset Blvd., but I knew when I saw Jeff the first time that he had a haunted fearlessness that took him in directions that my acquiescences would have a hard time following.
But grace is a funny thing. It touches you when you least expect it and inspires you to go on. I hate that Jeff isn’t still here making music and continuing to enjoy the explorations he’d begun.
Take a listen to the radio show here: The Grace of Jeff Buckley. It’s from the BBC page because it has a few more links to check out that I thought would be nice to share.
I’d also recommend KCRW’s Unfictional show which often rebroadcasts some of the best BBC4 documentaries in addition to its original programming. After I listened to the story on Jeff Buckley I listened to a new one on Judee Sill, where you get to hear one of my heroes, Andy Partridge of XTC, cry… Her music is incredibly beautiful as well.
I don’t recommend listening to either of these stories when you’re hoping to fall asleep!-->
More photos from Saturday night with Kenny Burrell at the Giving Back to the Future fundraiser. (These are on Facebook, however some of you may not partake…)
Kenny Burrell told this story last night to a few of us. Duke Ellington had previously told him to his face that he was his favorite guitarist, but there was another private compliment he received from the legend. Kenny – with his trio – had opened for Duke for a concert in Central Park. They’d done a really good job and the applause was loud and strong. As Kenny left the stage he was walking past the maestro’s dressing room and heard Duke’s manager ask Duke if he heard all that applause. (Maybe he was trying to get his competive juices flowing…)
Duke said, “Yes, but did you hear that harmony?”
I felt a little like that when seeing this photo of me playing one of Kenny’s new songs last night, noticing him looking on so sweetly at the corner of the stage. These are the moments you live for as a musician, the moment you make your heroes smile!-->
Wow, wow, wow! So happy to be in Paris and have the opportunity not only to play music for people, but to stay in my cousin’s amazing apartment here. I’m looking at the Eiffel Tower as I sit on the balcony at a red table, in a red chair. It’s just unbelievably gorgeous. And when we arrived, after Franni showed us the lay of the land, we walked around the corner to a farmers market where we bought the fresh strawberries I’m eating now. We also had a turkish lunch and picked up groceries for our dinner.
We’ve been in three countries now in two weeks. Eight days in London where I felt like I had such a nice connection with new people at the shows and really loved seeing friends Merideth & Ella, Julian & Wendy, Drusilla, Tina, Bei & Greg, Fiona, Steve and Richard & Andy – who booked me for gigs – and their teams, who always make me feel like returning family. I’m so lucky!
Then we went to Berlin and stayed with the US Ambassador to Germany and his family. They actually gave us a guest house to ourselves and treated us to amazing meals and the love of family with their three daughters. Adrianne has taught them for years and we’ve produced recordings for all three. They’re a talented and spirited bunch. And yes, I got to ride in a bulletproof car in a motorcade. And I got to see the amazing David Bowie exhibition with special stuff added specific to the time spent there recording Heroes and Low that wasn’t in the Victoria & Albert exhibition. But what was most interesting was to get the feeling of Berlin without the wall. I grew up with the Cold War heavy on in the Reagan 80s and only went to Berlin before the wall fell. It’s amazing to think that it’s been more than 24 years since the Wall fell. Some of you reading might never have considered it at all when thinking of global politics at all. But it seemed a thing that would never budge. I remember being in love with Eastern Bloc writers like Milan Kundera who talked so much about how those hungering for free expression were able to do so under the watchful eye of “communist” governments. (See the film “The Lives of Others” for another glimpse of that feeling.) So it was moving to be able to walk over the brick lines in parts of the city where the wall once stood. I could go on, and maybe will sometime about the people I met and their stories now and then.
But now, I’m going to enjoy Paris a little. Or take a nap…
Life is good.-->