Sunday, May 26, 2013

sketches (for my sweetheart the drunk)

Released one year after his death, this collection of polished studio tracks, home demos, and live recordings show Jeff Buckley searching for a new sound.  'Sketches (for My Sweetheart the Drunk)' began after Buckley made a guest appearance on Patti Smith's 'Gone Again' album.  He met Tom Verlaine who was also collaborating on the sessions and asked him to produce his new album.  Sessions in New York took place over the summer of 1996 through February of 1997; but Buckley was not satisfied with the results.  A move to Memphis did not help; and Buckley decided to ask Andy Wallace (who had produced his incredible debut 'Grace') to step in as producer.  While waiting for the new sessions to begin, Buckley began recording demos at his home on a four track and playing live gigs at a local bar to work out the direction the music should go.  

Buckley sent this message to his fans for Christmas of 1996:   "There was a time in my life not too long ago when I could show up in a cafe and simply do what I do, make music, learn from performing my music, explore what it means to me, i.e.- have fun while I irritate and/or entertain an audience who doesn't know me or what I am about. In this situation I have that precious and irreplaceable luxury of failure, of risk, of surrender. I worked very hard to get this kind of thing together, this work forum. I loved it then and missed it when it disappeared. All I am doing is reclaiming it. Don't worry about the phantom solo tours, they are simply my way of survival and my own method of self-assessment and recreation. If they don't happen...nothing else can. I can at least be all alone with nothing to help me, save myself. Real men maintain their freedom to suck eggs, my dear.  I'm in the middle of some wild shit right now...please be patient, I'm coming soon to a cardboard display case near you and I'm coming out of my hole and we'll make bonfires out of ticketstubs come the summer."

Buckley sent his home demos to the members of his band and was scheduled to begin recording in Memphis on May 29, 1997.  That night, Buckley and his roadie Keith Foti got lost looking for the rehearsal space and decided to go down to the Wolf River, a tributary of the Mississippi River.  Jeff disappeared in the wake of a couple of boats while swimming toward Mud Island.  A few days later his body was found.  There were no drugs in his system and it was ruled an accidental drowning.  

His mother, Mary Guibert decided to release the tracks as a double album with the original tracks recorded with Verlaine as disk one and the demos and fragments as disk two:   "The bone of contention was that the songs on the first disc were mixed without involvement from me or the band, and the band resented that and felt I should go to battle with Sony to wipe out the Wallace mixes. That was something I just couldn't do. Was I supposed to go to Andy and say, 'The band doesn't want those mixes'? Especially knowing that Andy and Jeff were so simpatico? If you listen to the two songs on the record that appear in duplicate versions ('New Year's Prayer' and 'Nightmares'), you can see what Andy did. So when I refused to make that an issue with Sony, I think the band resented it. But that just wasn't a battle I wanted to fight...Jeff worked very, very hard to break through and write these songs. Much of the music was in no state to be revealed, so there are songs that no one has heard that may be suitable for other people to perform one day. But there was a point where I knew I just could not bury this music. I could not just keep it in my little apartment here. I had to have his voice heard and let the music speak for itself." 

Buckley once said:   "I'm a romanticist. Not in a nostalgic sense nor in a psychotic sense, but just someone he carries romanticism in his heart. It has to do with hope, on the one hand, and a sleazy kind of cynicism on the other. I love reality for what it is, but also the reality as it should be: without human blood flowing through African rivers, without the mentally ill who are condemned to a life on the streets. I still take the world as it is, with all its misery, diseases, villains, heroes and saints. I do not want to live in another era. Hippies are boring and nostalgia is just fun for a short while. I do not like to fantasize, but I do like daydreaming. I do not build castles in the air."

'Sketches (for My Sweetheart the Drunk)' edged up to number sixty-four in the US, sixty-two in the Netherlands, twenty-nine in Sweden, thirteen in Belgium, ten in Norway, seven in New Zealand and the UK, six in France, and number one in Australia.  Included in the album, there is a handwritten note from one of Buckley's notebooks:    "I don't write my music for Sony.  I write it for the people who are screaming down the road crying to a full blast stereo.  There is also music I will make that will never ever ever be for sale.  This is my music alone, this is my true home; from which all things are born and from which all my life will spring untainted and unworried, fully of my own body."

"New Year's Prayer"

"Opened Once"

"Everybody Here Wants You"

'Sketches (for My Sweetheart the Drunk)'

full album:

"The Sky Is a Landfill" (Jeff Buckley, Michael Tighe) – 5:09
"Everybody Here Wants You" – 4:46
"Opened Once" – 3:29
"Nightmares by the Sea" – 3:53

"Yard of Blonde Girls" (Audrey Clark, Lori Kramer, Inger Lorre) – 4:07
"Witches' Rave" – 4:40
"New Year's Prayer" – 4:40

"Morning Theft" – 3:39
"Vancouver" (Jeff Buckley, Mick Grondahl, Michael Tighe) – 3:12
"You & I" – 5:39

"Nightmares by the Sea" [Original Mix] – 3:49
"New Year's Prayer" [Original Mix] – 4:10
"Haven't You Heard" – 4:07
"I Know We Could Be So Happy Baby (If We Wanted to Be)" – 4:27

"Murder Suicide Meteor Slave" – 5:55
"Back in N.Y.C." (Tony Banks, Phil Collins, Peter Gabriel, Steve Hackett, Mike Rutherford) – 7:37

"Demon John" (Jeff Buckley, Michael Tighe) – 5:13
"Your Flesh Is So Nice" – 3:37
"Jewel Box" – 3:37
"Satisfied Mind" (Red Hayes, Jack Rhodes) (recorded 1992.10.11 WFMU) – 6:00

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