July 1995 pg 44
LONE STAR by Daniela Soave
Jeff Buckley is hiding in the depths of his tour bus, trying to grab a little solitude. The curtains are drawn, the lights are dimmed, and the outside world has been shut out of his safe- but, it has to be said, rather smelly - cocoon. He's just finished his soundcheck and has fled to his home for the last few weeks, a cramped, very 70s brown seven-berth coach which is parked outside the backstage entrance. Ahead of him are just two more gigs before a six-week break, the longest holiday he's been permitted since fame beckoned. He looks wiped out but sexy, long hair half-hiding the two rings in his left ear ("I've got another one somewhere else," he smiles, "but I'll never tell where." The mind rather boggles).
We've just begun to talk when someone starts banging on the door. We try to ignore it but whoever it is out there won't give up. Eventually Buckley pulls himself out of his seat and sighs loudly as he disappears to open the door. From the back of the bus I listen to the exchange, which goes something like this:
FEMALE: Oh! Your Jeff Buckley!
FEMALE: I bought your album
BUCKLEY: (Politely) Thank You.
FEMALE: Look, my boyfriend's stood me up and he's got our two tickets. Will you put me on the guest list?
BUCKLEY: Well, it's full but I'll do what I can. What's your name?
FEMALE: I've written it down. Here you go. You wont forget about it, will you?
BUCKLEY: Look, I can only try. I've got to go. Goodbye.
FEMALE: Don't forget. You will put my name on the list, wont you? It's just my boyfriend has my ticket. [With the next line, however, she totally blows her excuse] And could you get a ticket for my friend as well?
Buckley walks back up the passage, frowning heavily. "One thing I really don't like is when plundering is disguised as appreciation," he says flatly. "Like what?" I ask him. "Yeah...like real encroachment or whatever. They really step over a line and I'm in a bind because...she's a grifter, man, what can I tell you? People are really very, very, very misguided. This fame thing isn't what people think. I heard it from Ray Davies [frontman of the kinks] most eloquently. I think he said there are two myths about people. One is that if you have a record contract you're rich or if your famous you're rich, and the other one is...um...er...actually, I forget what it is." He laughs. "But it's like people think I've got tons at my disposal. Like I should think myself absolutely lucky to have this brown bus." He looks around the dreary vehicle, which looks like it last played host to the Bay City Rollers, shaking his head in amazement. I mean, who designs these things?"
In the space of two months, Buckley has gone from being Best Kept Secret to Next Big Thing, from performing in smoky little New York coffee-bars to filling cavernous halls with his particular brand of trash and tenderness. It's his voice that does it: Low and sexy one moment, high and girlie the next (" I'm completely chemically altered by the end of a performance, due to the places I have to go in my head for my songs," he claims, a quote which would surely have made Kurt Cobain jealous.) It's this almost scary intensity that makes audiences drool and inspired critics to go totally ga-ga about his debut album, Grace, when it was released last autumn.
Jeff Buckley first picked up the guitar when he was still a kid. His father, Tim Buckley, was a cult singer who fled the family home when Jeff was still a baby and overdosed at the age of 28 (Jeff's age this year). After that his family led a transient existence, with the result that music took the place of friends he could never keep.
"I grew up mainly in Southern California, mostly in little white trashville towns overrun by Burger Kings, malls, Bloods and Crips and high taxes," he remembers. "Just me, my mom, and my little brother, mainly, moving from one place to the next, depending on what relationship, job, breakup was happening at the time. We moved so often I just used to put all my stuff in paper bags. My childhood was pretty much marijuana and rock and roll," he says. " I had the longest hair and the weirdest clothes- the kids at my high school used to call me 'that faggot' and beat me up all the time."
Thus the loner instinct was born. Buckley left home at 17, moved to Los Angeles at 18 and came to New York four years later, changing his name from Scott Moorhead (the name of his mother's second husband, the man who introduced him, for better or worse, to the music of Led Zeppelin). "I didn't tell anyone that I was going. I don't need someone else telling me what to do. I just sold everything and split: I'm the sort of person who mulls things over and never discusses their plans."
Buckley lives alone in a small apartment in east Manhattan and says his wandering days are over. He says he couldn't imagine living anywhere else because the city offers everything he could ever want.
" I felt the pull from an early age." he adds. "I must have been about 12 when I started to think about its bright lights. When I was still living in California, the people I was attracted to always came from New York. They were totally different. I got sick of being in California because I never felt I belonged, but I can't imagine ever tiring of New York."