By Cole Altmayer and Mandi Hall, copy editor and executive features editor
‘Goodbye and Hello’ introduces listeners to forgotten genius
Anyone with even a passing interest in 90s alternative rock or singer-songwriter music has probably heard of Jeff Buckley. Often considered one of the greatest one-album wonders of all time, it almost feels as if Buckley fell suddenly from the sky, and disappeared just as fast without a satisfactory goodbye. Only three years after the release of his sole album “Grace,” Buckley drowned during an unfortunate midnight swim in the Mississippi River.
However, the impact he made on rock music was indispensable. One of defining figureheads of 90s indie, it seems every somber guy with a guitar these days owes their livelihood to Jeff Buckley. His heartfelt cover of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” has surpassed the original in terms of popularity, in many ways becoming the defining rendition of the song.
But personally, I feel the strongest gift Jeff brought the world was a resurgence in the popularity of his father, Tim Buckley, who may be among the most underrated artists of all time. Whereas Jeff is the patron saint of the pensive singer-songwriter, Tim fell to the wayside by refusing the somber delicacy of other folk artists and carving out a niche of his own. He also met an untimely fate like his son did, dying at the young age of 28 due to a drug overdose.
But still, Jeff remains the more popular Buckley for a single (and rather obvious) reason: Tim Buckley made some really, really weird music. Avant-folk and jazz fusion just doesn’t cut it for most indieheads.
I personally find myself intrigued by Tim’s eccentric nature, but I understand the apprehension. However, there is no excuse for any fan of Jeff, or indie music in general, to ignore Tim Buckley’s discography. Especially one album in particular: his 1967 album “Goodbye and Hello.”
“Goodbye and Hello” is not a particularly strange release, but it does contain the writing on the wall for Tim’s later work: influence from classical music, Jefferson Airplane-esque doses of psychedelia, and strangely androgynous vocal performances from Tim that sound unlike any of his contemporaries.
One of the most alluring aspects of Tim’s music is his voice, and it is unashamedly laid bare on this album. On his later releases, Tim’s voice acts as a guiding light for the listener, a lonely melody lying in the midst of cacophonous instrumentals. “Goodbye and Hello” has his voice working hand-in-hand with the music, his equally iconic falsettos and growls both taking center stage on the track “Pleasant Street,” which portrays a sort of mystique reminiscent of early James Bond films.
This mystique becomes ghostly wonder on “Hallucinations,” which has an almost medieval quality to its guitar work and vocal melody, especially the staggered inflection Buckley has on the chorus. Before long, the listener is overtaken with a sort of bliss when the opening guitar chords of “I Never Asked To Be Your Mountain” strike forth, supporting the voice of a wistful Buckley reminiscing over his estranged family. There is a remarkable feeling of closure listening to this song, knowing that Jeff would later uphold his father’s legacy.
The album hits its peak with the track “Phantasmagoria in Two,” a bittersweet track that contains wonderful interplay between psychedelic guitar work and an acrobatic vocal melody. Each note seems to cascade into the next, causing this three minute song to feel infinitely short and addictively relistenable.
While “Goodbye and Hello” is not Tim Buckley’s most impressive or most ambitious release, it is perhaps the greatest snapshot of his immense talent and versatility as an artist. Its name also reflects a sad irony in the careers of both Tim and Jeff Buckley. They penned some of the finest songs their genres have to offer, yet the world barely got to know either of them besides brief hellos and even briefer goodbyes.
WORST TRACK: Carnival Song
Dirty Dozen: first of a genre
These days, people love the story of a ragtag, unorthodox group of heroes teaming up and saving the day. There’s the original 1960 western The Magnificent 7 and its 2016 remake where a sheriff groups together a bunch of gunfighters and gamblers to take down an evil robber. Or how about Suicide Squad, where a bunch of well loved DC comics villains were rounded up to defeat a more evil fiend. Despite the bad reviews of the actual movie, there was so much hype around the movie because people love a story of bad vs evil.
If these kinds of action movies are up your alley, check out the 1967 movie Dirty Dozen, one of the original stories of the criminals turned heroes. Lee Marvin plays John Reisman, a major assigned by his captain to train a dozen convicts who are either condemned to at least two decades of hard labor or imprisonment or condemned to hanging for one particular mission during WWII.
To say Reisman is less than thrilled at the mission from his captain would be a tremendous understatement, but he was chosen for the top secret mission because of his out of the box style of thinking, which becomes clearer as the movie progresses.
The movie starts out a bit slow, due to the fact that all twelve of the convicts need to be introduced, as well as entertaining the idea of the mission. It’s also two and a half hours long, which might be too long for some.
The film is riddled with brilliant one liners and short funny moments, and each convict has his own strange quirk that either gives him a redeemable quality or is his final downfall. There’s the religious nutcase, the dry sarcastic, the blatant rebel, “gentle” giant and more.
Watching these common criminals slowly become a well-oiled machine is what makes this movie stand apart. The chemistry shared between the actors as the convicts bond over trying not to die is both humorous and inspiring. Especially in the iconic moment when they unanimously decide that because they don’t get to use hot water to clean and shave, they aren’t going to do it. One of the soldiers nicknames their crew “The Dirty Dozen,” and it’s the first moment that you can see that they are actually becoming a team.
By the time the final mission comes around, the audience is rooting for a bunch of criminals to kill as many Nazis as they possibly can and grieving every death that occurs. The extra long buildup to the mission gives the final scene good suspense, energy and even a bit of hopefulness.
Also, for those of you who are Hunger Games fans, you’ll be interested to see President Snow in his early years. Donald Sutherland gives a great performance as one of the twelve convicts, a character that, while just as twisted as the much hated Hunger Games villain, has a much more humorous and laid back flavor that really adds to the group.
Major Reisman certainly has his work cut out for him, but watching him whip these convicts into shape is what makes this movie a classic.