Remembering Singer Jeff Buckley

For one year from 2007-2008, Amar traveled around the world reporting on how people from all walks of life view the United States through text and video.  The following is one of a number of posts from England. For more, click here.

Manchester - Sure, Elvis, Madonna, and Puff Daddy influence world melodies, but don’t forget the musician’s musician whose haunting voice inspires far-flung others. For Paul McCartney, Chris Martin, Bono, Elton John and many others, American folk singer Jeff Buckleywas that voice.

I first heard Jeff Buckley in a friend’s basement at the age of thirteen, about to succumb to teenage angst. His voice embodied the pain and delight I’d experience through the coming years. From my first kiss to my worst fights, Jeff Buckley was there, though I never dared sing.

So when I heard Karima Francis perform his song "So Real" outside Manchester’s infamous Canal Street bar scene, you can only imagine my astonishment. In this 20-year-old I heard the mystery of Jeff Buckley’s voice, just days before the tenth anniversary of the singer's death.

Karima and I talked about Buckley’s influence on us. Like Buckley, Karima had never known her father. The man named her at birth and then vanished. She connected in more ways than one with this lonely, independent American.

And as a wanderer myself, I admired him for touring America anonymously, making music, learning from performing, and embracing the “irreplaceable luxury of failure, of risk, of surrender.” That’s courage I’d love to have.

Jeff Buckley drowned at age thirty, just as his fame was rising. But in his brief years he left enough to influence thousands of budding artists around the world. I encountered one on Canal Street without intending it, and I wonder where else I will find the legend of Jeff Buckley lurking, reawakening.

EnglandAmar Bakshi