A Wished-For Song: A Portrait of Jeff Buckley

(Backbeat Books)





Rock and roll has had its share of tragedies, and pretty
much all of them deal with the untimely deaths of musicians at their prime:
Buddy Holly’s plane crash, Marvin Gaye’s death at the hands of his father,
Elliott Smith’s suicide. And Jeff Buckley’s swimming death in 1997 was no
different: The man who was once known as Scotty Moorehead, already a critical
darling, would develop infamous status not only for his passing but for the now
heart-wrenching quality of first and only studio album, 1994’s Grace (honestly, is it even necessary to
mention his masterful cover of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah?”).


In the 12 years since his death in the Wolf River Harbor in
Memphis, Tenn., Buckley has become the iconic sensitive guy, the James Dean of
the music set (stat check: the 24-year-old actor left three films, Rebel Without a Cause, Giant and East of Eden; the 30-year-old Buckley left Grace, the four-song Live at
EP and the posthumously released Sketches
for My Sweetheart the Drunk
), and for those yearning to know everything
possible about the man, A Wished-For Song (named after a line from a poem by the 13th-century Persian poet Rumi) is
probably your best bet. A combination of interviews and photographs by
freelance photographer Merri Cyr, a close friend of Buckley’s, the book is an
unparalleled look into the singer’s life, with comments from friends and
members of Buckley’s band and dozens of pictures of Buckley performing,
lounging, perusing record stores and mugging for the camera, among other


And pretty pictures withstanding, it’s Cyr’s interviews that
make the book worth reading, not just flipping through to glance at the photos:
The descriptions of Buckley’s life, including tales of his contradictory
personality (such as one instance in which Buckley spotted Radiohead’s Thom
Yorke in the crowd at a show, became excessively flattered and then turned obsessively
worried that Yorke didn’t like him because he slipped out before the end of
Buckley’s set, according to Jeff Apter, author of A Pure Drop: The Life of Jeff Buckley), create a complete portrait
of the man, one that is more than straight praise – and seems more honest and
intimate because of it. As a result, A
Wished-For Song
isn’t just art – it’s Buckley personally, and is definitely
worth a look by any Buckley fan; novices and diehards alike will find something
new within Cyr’s pages. ROXANA HADADI



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