Ten Years Gone, Jeff Buckley's Voice Lingers Ten years ago Tuesday, singer/guitarist Jeff Buckley took an ill-fated swim in a Memphis harbor. At the time, he was a rising star, but in the years since, he's become something of an icon. Buckley released only one studio CD, Grace, in his short lifetime.

Ten Years Gone, Jeff Buckley's Voice Lingers

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Ten years ago today, a singer and guitarist named Jeff Buckley took an ill-fated swim in a Memphis harbor. At the time he was a rising star. In the years since he drowned, he has become something of an icon. Jeff Buckley only recorded one studio album - "Grace", it's called. It didn't sell well at the time. Now ask any major musician and they'll tell you it's a classic.

(Soundbite of song, "Last Goodbye")

Mr. JEFF BUCKLEY (Singer): (Singing) This is our last goodbye.

MONTAGNE: Buckley sings punk rock, French cabaret; a carol by British composer Benjamin Britten. These were songs born in late night performances in an Irish bar on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, songs from a musician with a big voice and an even bigger creative range, says music critic and Buckley biographer David Brown.

Mr. DAVID BROWN (Music Critic): Right from the start, he really seemed like someone who the record industry refers to as a heritage artist. He seems like someone who was going to be around for a long time and he was going to have an incredibly long, winding career that you could follow.

(Soundbite of song, "Last Goodbye")

Mr. BUCKLEY: (Singing) Must I dream and always see your face? Why can't we overcome this wall? Baby, maybe it's just because I didn't know you at all.

MONTAGNE: Since Jeff Buckley died there has been a steady stream of releases with mostly the same limited number of songs - reissued, repackaged, road versions, live cuts, a DVD. A movie is reportedly in the works. And last week another CD appeared, "So Real: Songs from Jeff Buckley." It includes Buckley's signature song, his version of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah."

(Soundbite of song, "Hallelujah")

Mr. BUCKLEY: (Singing) Maybe there's a God above but all I've ever learned from love was how to shoot somebody who outdrew ya...

MONTAGNE: Ten years on, Buckley's performance is just as haunting, fitting for a singer who is still calling out to new fans.

Mr. BROWN: It's a very emotional (unintelligible) and not in a kind of mawkish way either. He wasn't afraid to push his voice and his music to those kinds of limits. He would just like let it flow. The songs could stretch on for a long time. He'd push his voice to the upper ranges. He didn't seem to be really holding back, and that's very appealing. It's very cathartic, and I think you can kind of live vicariously through it emotionally.

MONTAGNE: That's music critic David Brown, speaking about Jeff Buckley.

(Soundbite of song, "Hallelujah")

Mr. BUCKLEY: (Singing) Hallelujah...

MONTAGNE: And to hear more songs, go to npr.org/music.

(Soundbite of song, "Hallelujah")

Mr. BUCKLEY: (Singing) Hallelujah. Hallelujah. Hallelujah...

MONTAGNE: This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.


And I'm Steve Inskeep.

(Soundbite of song, "Hallelujah")

Mr. BUCKLEY: (Singing) Hallelujah. Hallelujah. Hallelujah.

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