Thursday, March 19, 2009

Rock of Ages: Tim Buckley - "Song to the Siren" (1970)

Tim Buckley was ahead of his time. His style was unlike any other folk artist at the time. He incorporated jazz, funk, R&B into the avante garde and made it accessible. Almost like Van Morrison's Astral Weeks, Tim Buckley crafted a fantastic mixture of classic folk and interesting arrangments. That being said, his finest song comes in the form of a very stripped down and ehtereal track. A love song that floats upon the oceans and to the hearts of lovers all over. "Song to the Siren" is a gorgeous track that appears on Buckley's finest record Starsailor. Moderately arranged with swooning vocals, both his lead and the back-up vocals that peirce in and out, as well as sparse guitars emote a feeling of desperate longing. It's a gorgeous song that drips with beauty. The lyrics are romantic. A choice line:

"I'm as puzzled as a newborn child.
I'm as riddled as the tide.
Should I stand amid the breakers?
Or shall I lie with death my bride?
Here me sing: Swim to me, swim to me,
Let me enfold you.
Here I am, Here I am, waiting to hold you."

Originally I knew of this song through the This Mortal Coil version which has appeared in various movies and TV shows. David Lynch has said that it's his favorite song of all time. Originally, that version was my favorite. But what comes out as more striking in the original version is the vast emptiness in between the singing and the music. It's the "shipless ocean" where there is nothing around except the song of the siren calling you. Sadly, Tim Buckley would die young leaving his wife and child behind. That child would go on to write amazing music and also pass young. Tim Buckley is a musical legacy much forgotten, but his songs and albums are treasures. "Song to the Siren" being the crowned jewel. Not only could Tim sing beautifully, his musicianship and producing skills were incredible. A true assest to the early psych folk movement and someone to be honored and remembered for his vast talents.

Editors Note: It was hard to find a video with the actual song. Sucks. Nims Island will hafta do. Play the video and close your eyes.

Up Next: The Kinks song of unlikely companionship

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