Today (November 17), if he were still alive, would have been Jeff Buckley’s 50th birthday. We didn’t get to see him fulfil his rich promise but over an all too brief period he still managed to leave us with a series of gorgeous songs and performances, some of which – his cover of Leonard Cohen’s ‘Hallelujah’, the gliding lover’s cry of ‘Last Goodbye’ – have woven themselves deeply into rock’s fabric.
Most of Buckley’s output has since been endlessly picked over and repackaged, but some songs still drift under the radar. In tribute to a still-missed artist, here’s our selection of his best lesser-known tracks.
‘The Boy With The Thorn In His Side’
Staying faithful to Johnny Marr’s none-brighter jangle, Buckley can’t help but create a lovelier impression than Morrissey. He inhabits the song – but never recorded it.
Originally tucked away on posthumous release ‘Sketches For My Sweetheart The Drunk’, ‘Morning Theft’ is a slowly building beauty about friendship – or something more – squandered.
This is a cover of a song by French composers Raymond Asso and Marguerite Monnot, sung half in English half in French, with a spot-on accent from Buckley. Recorded live at New York’s Sin-é venue, it trills like a music box.
Another Smiths cover, its pathos writ large in an extended intro and sullen vocal, this originally featured on live album ‘Mystery White Boy’ in a medley with ‘Hallelujah’.
‘Satisfied Mind’ started life as a Billboard country chart No.1 for sometime Dolly Parton collaborator Porter Wagoner in 1955, but Buckley takes it in a bluesier direction, giving it some rattle and roll over gently picked guitar.
If there are other Jeff Buckley rarities that mean more to you, or deserve a wider audience, let us know.