Jeff Buckley – Last Goodbye

I often refer to Jeff Buckley’s only proper studio album, Grace, as my favorite Led Zeppelin album, because it has all of the mystique and pomp of that fabled quartet without, you know, the serious plundering of other artists catalogs.

Released 24 years ago this summer, Grace has steadily found its way into the public conscience, thanks in part to a luminous cover of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah, which found its way into film and TV and then became an easy shorthand for conveying a certain mood.

I probably play the album once a month or so — I would play it more, but for all the albums I do have — and Last Goodbye in particular gets stuck in my head.

It’s a song of odd contrasts — acoustic delicacy balanced atop a muscular, yet nimble groove.

Today, I say a last goodbye to someone, so I have been living in this song the past few days.

They won’t hear or know I am saying goodbye, which I know is cryptic.

Not all goodbyes are planned or conventional.

And not all are final.

But this one is.

And this feels like the right song to come to terms with it, a song by an artist who left behind a perfect debut but never got a chance to follow it.

An artist who left without saying goodbye.

 

Sweets from a stranger

I used to frequent thrift shops, yard sales, and swap meets, looking for my next great vinyl fix.

Often, sellers would ask me ‘what are you looking for?’

The question annoyed me.

Because I never had an answer for it.

So I would always answer ‘I won’t know until I find it.’

Even then, I didn’t always know what I had found.

A few years ago, I stumbled on an album called Cameo by Marian Henderson.

It was released on Coral Records, an MCA imprint, in 1970:

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If you look her up, you’ll find her referred to as the ‘Queen of the Australian folk revival,’ which is fine, as far as it goes, but it is a bit limiting, if only because she clearly was influenced by and had a strong appreciation for jazz, which comes through in this recording.

There are 11 tracks on Cameo (I had thought the original Australian version had 12, but it’s been hard to confirm), and they range from traditional and contemporary folk to classic pop to a rather spirited take on Leonard Cohen’s Stranger Song:

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