Jeff Buckley and Rufus Wainwright: Songs of Measured Lament
Jeff Buckley was born in California in 1966 and died at the young age of 31 in a tragic drowning accident in Memphis, Tennessee. He had emerged in New York City’s Lower East Side avant-garde club scene during the early-1990’s as one of the most remarkable musical artists of his generation, acclaimed by audiences, critics,and fellow musicians alike. Buckley performed a version of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah on his 1994 debut album Grace. By 1997, Buckley had moved from New York City and settled in Memphis, where he continued to work on what would have been his newest album. His last public show was a solo performance at a small club named Barrister’s in Memphis on May 26, 1997. Buckley died three days later, drowning in Memphis in the Wolf River on May 29, 1997.
Everybody Here Wants You: A Documentary of Buckley’s Life
Jeff Buckley: Halleluja
Rufus Wainwright met Jeff Buckley in the 1990s when Wainwright was an up-and-coming act. By then, Buckley had already released his first album (Grace), and was well on his way to stardom. Wainwright is said to have felt somewhat exasperated that Buckley often played at Sin-é, a café on New York’s Lower East Side, while he had been rejected three times by the club. The two met several months before Buckley’s drowning, during a show that Wainwright was playing. Buckley supposedly helped out with some technical problems, and the two talked over beers for a few hours.
In Wainwright’s 2004 album Want Two, his song Memphis Skyline was written as a tribute to Buckley, a loving elegy for another beautiful boy blessed with more than mere attitude and exhibitionism. “Always hated him for the way he looked/in the gaslight of the morning,” Rufus sings about Buckley, for whom this is a sweetly homoerotic tribute: “So kiss me, my darling, stay with me till morning…” That song also mentions Hallelujah, the Leonard Cohen song that Buckley had notably covered, and which Wainwright later did likewise.
Rufus Wainwright: Hallelujah
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