‘Once I Was’ performed by Jeff Buckley

Jeff Buckley performing his father, Tim Buckley’s song ‘Once I Was’ is one of the most achingly sad things I have ever heard.
Tim Buckley was an American singer and musician, who died of an overdose aged 28, leaving behind two sons from two marriages, one of whom was Jeff Buckley. Tim and Jeff’s mother divorced a month before his birth and he was raised primarily by his mother.
Years later, a then unknown Jeff would perform at a Tim Buckley tribute concert. He was a fledgling musician at the time and somewhat ambivalent about performing, due to not wanting to be linked to his father. However, the effect he had on the audience was undeniable. They were blown away by the beauty and power of the voice, the resemblance to Tim and the heartbreaking significance of Jeff singing a song that his father wrote about an affair.
‘Once I Was’ lyrics:

Once I was a soldier,
and I fought on foreign sands for you
Once I was a hunter,
and I brought home fresh meat for you
Once I was a lover
and I searched behind your eyes for you
Soon there’ll come another
to tell you I was just a lie.

And, sometimes I wonder,
for a while:
Do you ever remember me?

Though you have forgotten
all of our rubbish dreams,
I find myself searching
through the ashes of our ruins
for the days when we smiled,
and the hours that ran wild
with the magic of our eyes
and the silence of our words.

And, sometimes I wonder,
for a while:
Do you ever remember me?

In his book ‘Dream Brother: The Lives and Music of Jeff and Tim Buckley,’ David Browne describes the performance:

“Suddenly, before the last chorus, a string broke on his acoustic guitar, and Jeff sang the lines, ‘Sometimes, I wonder for a while/Do you ever remember me?’ unaccompanied. If that weren’t dramatic enough, his voice spiralled up on the last word –‘me’– like a thin plume of smoke, holding on for a moment before drifting up to the ceiling. He took a quick bow, said ‘thanks,’ and trotted offstage, and the concert ended. It would not have been a more perfect finale if he had planned it.”

You can hear this in the recording.

This song and this performance of it will always just straight out- HURT MY HEART. I hope any readers are similarly affected (that’s right- I want you guys to suffer!)

Here is a link to Jeff’s performance of his father’s song ‘I Never Asked to Be Your Mountain’ at the concert. Tim wrote this song about Jeff and Jeff’s mother: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WLdOqfgZLPE


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