Jeff Buckley's label, Columbia, has released his second posthumous album, Mystery White Boy: Live '95-'96. It's a gorgeous record that showcases his brilliant songwriting, his intense and inspiring live performances, and his ability to personalize others' songs and turn them into something entirely new. From start to finish, it makes me regret missing all the shows he played around here. I was either too busy or too tired to appreciate that this might be the last time he toured. With this regret I find myself enjoying Jeff's work more and more in the years following his death. It's hard to understand why that it is. Maybe now I better believe the lyrics he wrote; he has proven himself to be vulnerable. Maybe it's just easier to relate to him as a human being now that he has proven himself to be mortal as well. In some ways, it's more shocking to learn about the death of a musical hero than that of a close friend or relative. We don't know the details of these stars' lives, only the artistic side that they convey to us. But we see our friends and family everyday and we know the risks they take and the lifestyles they live. We can see certain tragedies on the horizon. We can prepare ourselves for inevitable outcomes. When those we look up to from a distance suddenly depart, there's no preparation. Jeff Buckley has not only given us the gift of music years after his death but also the gift of remembering to live our lives to the fullest. If we do, one of us may be able to share our incredible gifts with others, as he was able to do.
John in the Morning promises to lighten up Monday through Friday from 6-10am on KCMU 90.3 FM and on the Web at www.kcmu.org.