This list of songs is inspired by lists published by radio station KEXP-FM from Seattle in 2010, as well as the latest poll taken in 2021 by Rolling Stone Magazine. For the most part I will faithfully countdown from their lists, starting at Song #500 and going until I reach Song #1. When you see the song title listed as something like: Song #XXX (KEXP)….it means that I am working off of the official KEXP list. Song XXX (RS) means the song is coming from the Rolling Stone list. If I post the song title as being: Song #xxx (KTOM), it means I have gone rogue and am inserting a song choice from my own personal list of tunes I really like. In any case, you are going to get to hear a great song and learn the story behind it. Finally, just so everyone is aware, I am not a music critic nor a musician. I am a music fan and an armchair storyteller. Here is the story behind today’s song. Enjoy.
KEXP: The Top 500 Songs in Modern Music History.
Song #466: Grace by Jeff Buckley.
If you know of Jeff Buckley at all then, you will know why we are here today.
In 1994, Jeff Buckley released his debut album called Grace. He and his band toured for a year and half in support of this record. One hot summer night, he went for a night swim in a shipping canal near where he was playing. A passing tugboat’s wake pulled him under and he drowned. He had not consumed any drugs nor alcohol. His death was not a suicide. His death was simply an accident…a misadventure. And, just like that, Jeff Buckley’s light was extinguished. What we have left to remember him by is that one album, along with the video recordings of him singing those songs. Oh yes, that and the unfathomable sense of loss for what might have been if he had lived.
Jeff Buckley is most known for his singing voice which many have described as “angelic”. He had a multi-octave range that few possess. The sounds he produced will be the first thing you notice when you hear his songs. His voice was an instrument, every bit as integral to his musical arrangements as any guitar, piano or drum. As Jimi Hendrix was a prodigy on the electric guitar, so too was Jeff Buckley with his voice.
The great Bob Dylan referred to the album Grace as being the best album of the 90s in any genre. The combination of singing, songwriting and musicianship formed a tapestry unlike anything else produced by anyone anywhere in the world at the time. David Bowie was a big fan, as were Jimmy Page and Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin. So, too, were countless other musicians who recognized Buckley’s virtuosity and countless fans who were moved by his words and sounds.
Jeff Buckley is best known for his cover of the Leonard Cohen classic, “Hallelujah”. I can give you a bit of a hint and tell you that as our musical countdown winds down and approaches its conclusion, you will see and hear from Jeff Buckley again. For now, we celebrate the man and his music with the title track from his only album Grace. The song “Grace” is about the power of being loved and how that fills you with the courage needed to face your greatest fears, including death. The performance you are about to see is noteworthy for the contrasts between the silence that opens the song, the incredible intensity of the actual song and then, again, the silence at the end when the announcer signs off of the show with barely a word of recognition for the amazingly draining spectacle that she just witnessed.
Jeff Buckley was a beautiful man and a supremely talented singer/songwriter. He is missed. But, we are all better for him having graced us with his music. Enjoy “Grace” and have an excellent day!
There is a website dedicated to Jeff Buckley which can be accessed here.
Thanks to KEXP for supporting great music and for helping to inspire the writing of this post. a link to their website can be found here.
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