By Ryan Davis
The alternative rock singer, Jeff Buckley, died 26 years ago this Monday. His death on May 29, 1997 was tragic for his family, friends, and fans; but his life is something to commemorate and celebrate. Buckley’s music has transcended its time and has become important to me and many others of my generation, accompanying us through both the hardships of life and the beauties of it.
Buckley’s debut album Grace (1994) received mixed reviews at the time of its release, but in recent years has gained a much higher critical reputation. About the album, Buckley stated that “grace is what matters in anything—especially life, especially growth, tragedy, pain, love, death. […] It keeps you from destroying things too foolishly. It sort of keeps you alive.” Jeff’s own quality of grace extended further than his ethereal vocals and guitar-playing. Actor and musician, Glen Hansard, described his old friend as gentle and sensitive in an interview for The Guardian. Buckley’s producer for the You & I recordings, Steve Addabbo, described him similarly, saying:
[He] had a good way with people. He was always right there with you when you had a conversation with him; he wasn’t distracted or thinking about something else. He was very humble, not cocky at all. And he was funny and outgoing, but very thoughtful. (Gibsone)
Jeff Buckley will probably always be remembered partly for his mysterious and sudden death–an accidental drowning in the Mississippi River–but the piece of his legacy that matters most was his ability to touch others through his music and through the grace of his soul during his lifetime. To let him speak for himself, Buckley once said, “I don’t really need to be remembered. I hope the music’s remembered.” And it is.
Beviglia, Jim. “Jeff Buckley, ‘Grace.’” American Songwriter, 2 Aug. 2021, americansongwriter.com/jeff-buckley-grace/.
Fraga, Kaleena. “The Heartbreaking Story of ‘hallelujah’ Singer Jeff Buckley’s Mysterious Death in the Mississippi River.” All That’s Interesting, 31 May 2022, allthatsinteresting.com/jeff-buckley-death.
Gibsone, Harriet. “Remembering Jeff Buckley: ‘People Would Listen with Their Mouths Open.’” The Guardian, 8 Mar. 2016, www.theguardian.com/music/2016/mar/08/remembering-jeff-buckley-music-collaborators-you-and-i.