Friday, 1 August 2008

Jeff Buckley - Live at The Black Cat

jeff buckley, solo, live, black cat, washington, 1994

Jeff Buckley, live solo at the Black Cat Washington, 22nd Feb 1994

I've always loved this Buckley performance, and for ages wondered who it was that sang on the last track, one of Jeffs many Van Morrison Astral Weeks covers, the oft played Sweet Thing. I asked at the JBB (Jeff Buckley Board), and was answered by the outspoken, no nonsense, Clarefromscotland, who told me that it was a young student/musician/journo Jamie Blake.

Unbeknownst to me, Clare, who runs a Cornell page and has done her fair bit of journalism too, had actually asked Jamie herself for her story about meeting Jeff and how she came to sing with him. Here follows the email she wrote back.

"I was a college student at the time at American University in D.C. I was also the music editor of a paper there called the University Reporter that went to 60,000 school kids in the area. I had an especially good relationship with a local rep from Sony. They were really pushing me to do an article on Jeff. They sent me "live at sine," and at first I didnt get it, but agreed to meet him at a dinner before the Black Cat show at Dantes. As it turned out one of my college professors at school was his opening act, a solo artist named Mark Helm. He was mentoring my songwriting. The two of them met at soundcheck that night, and Mark must have told Jeff about me. The dinner at Dantes was for local press, all women. The label was working his beauty factor. He really was beautiful. I was sitting at the opposite end of the table from Jeff. The table was long with about 15 women around it. I hadn't said a word, everyone was rifling questions at him. I was drifting into space when he calls out, "who here is the musician?" I said nothing, thinking of course he doesn't mean me. He then said again, holding a glass of red wine, "who here is a musician," I think I raised my hand, and managed a squeaky "me." With that he made the women next to him move out of the way and called me to sit next to him. Everyone was still there, but for the rest of the night we only spoke with each other. He had an amazing ability to make you feel special, like the only one in the room. At some point I realized my friend was going on the stage soon, so I got up to leave, and Jeff said he wanted to come too. We left everyone behind, and walked to the venue together. It was probably only a two block walk, and I remember every word of the conversation. He was telling me about how he got signed, talking about his skull and bones necklace, about great music in general, continuing our conversation from the restaurant. He asked me if I would come on stage later and sing with him. I had a very limited musical education at the time, and we couldn't find a song we knew in common. Sooooo, he said you're going to sing "sweet thing" with me, and just wing it. Repeat after me or something. So I sat to watch Mark perform, Jeff thought he was brilliant, I remember him paying close attention to the lyrics, and commenting on them. Mark is an amazing lyricist, they actually ran into each other later, overseas, and Jeff was wonderful to him. Jeff went on, and I "got" it. From then on listening to Live at Sine wasn't enough for me, I wanted the album. Smile We all hung out for a while, playing pinball, drinking red wine, gab gab gab. When he was on, he was "on," very funny, and animated. We kept in loose touch. I moved to NY, transferred schools, soon after. I wanted to get my music thing going. I called him, and even though he was getting ready to go out on the road again, he was super sweet about telling me what to do and where to go in NY. I flew to D.C. to see him play the black cat again when everyone else went to woodstock to play in the mud. We had a repeat night at Dantes, he was bummed he had lost his skull and bones necklace, he kept singing Joni Mitchell into my ear, "you and I are always flirting, flirting," he went on and on about how he looked like luke perry and how it annoyed him, and he heard people saying it, and that he was growing his hair out and his stubble to combat it, and at the end of the night gave me an innocent kiss on the lips before he put me in a cab. A kiss on the lips that made my knees weak. It was definitely innocent for him, just friendly, but I thought I would pass out.

I was so blown away by his talent I went to see him play whenever I could. In all I only saw him play five times though. For the third show I found myself backstage at Fez with Jeff, Craig Weidren (of shudder to think), and chris cornell. one of them said something and Jeff said, "id rather masturbate with a seahorse." thats the line that stuck out because it was easy to remember, but he was happier than I had ever seen him that night, and his quick wit in rare form. its fun to see someone in such a great head space, its contagious. The next and last time I spoke with him he was tired from the road, he used to tell me that his voice was only getting stronger on the road, and that night he was saying that he was having some vocal problems, and some major back problems, he had a masseuse at the venue, and was completely exhausted. I saw him again but I was with music biz people that dragged me mid show to another venue. I know that he had many great performances after that but i was in the studio for my own stuff, and never got to speak with him again. i was heartbroken when I got the news. He really was so warm, such a good person, a deep soul, and of course brilliantly talented. I cant help but tear up when I really stop to remember, and feel lucky for the chance to have met him. Not to be dramatic but now that i think about it, ive met a lot of artists since then, none of them can match his spirit. thats the story." -- Jamie Blake


Last Goodbye
Mojo Pin
Grace
Eternal Life
Chat - Tuning
Je N'en Connais Pas La Fin
Hallelujah
Lover, You should've Come Over
Sweet Thing

Rar 1
Rar 2

You can hear Clare and husbands music on Myspace, Species 8472.

3 comments:

Julia said...

That's an amazing story! Thanks for posting it here. For sure every woman who read it was jealous of Jamie :)

Mark Helm said...

I'm the Mark Helm Jamie mentions. Yes, Jeff was AMAZING! He was very gracious and supportive of me during the brief time we knew each other. jamie and he sang together beautifully...I'll never forget that nite....

Lu said...

i'm so agree with julia !


(hi from argentina, one of the biggest fan of jeff )