Goodbye And Hello

Tim Buckley

Elektra, 1967

REVIEW BY: Benjamin Ray


It's almost mandatory that any critic discussing Tim Buckley mentions how underrated and/or unknown he was during the late ‘60s and early ‘70s. Part of this is because critics like to feel superior to the masses who like what Billboard tells them to like, but a bigger part is that Buckley truly deserved a broader audience, and anyone who listens to him feels the need to share this.

Goodbye And Hello usually won't get listed as one of the best albums of 1967, but with all the competition that year, it was bound to fall short anyway. Truth is, it is a very good album, a folk pop affair with hints of psychedelia and thoughtful, if sometimes overwrought, lyrics from poet Larry Beckett.

Buckley is less self-important than Dylan, less idiosyncratic than Leonard Cohen and far more grounded than Donovan, able to wring drama out of seemingly simple songs and rarely overstaying his welcome, even on the longer tracks. Buckley wrote all 10 songs and Beckett helped write lyrics on five of them. my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

The album ebbs and flows perfectly, starting with the brief "No Man Can Find The War," a grim, evocative portrait of battle, written by Beckett shortly before he was drafted. Buckley sings it in his lower register like a booming minstrel, ending just as the gunfire comes in and the song's life abruptly ends. "Carnival Song" has the appropriate Sgt. Pepper-esque harmonium and weird, near-incomprehensible words about clowns and crimson streets of wine, but hey, it was 1967.

"Pleasant Street," however, is a dramatic masterpiece, using slashing chord changes and Buckley's entire vocal range in a tale of visiting one's past, for better or worse. When people rave about Buckley, this is what they are talking about; it frankly puts most of Jefferson Airplane's catalog to shame. And once you catch your breath there (after skipping the dull "Hallucinations"), the six-minute "I Never Asked To Be Your Mountain" arrives on a gilded 12-string chariot, a self-examination inspired by Buckley's family (including baby Jeff, who would cover this song during his similar brief, brilliant career in the mid ‘90s).

Side two rarely hits the heights of the first side, settling instead for the bucolic "Once I Was" (a fine post-breakup song), the forgettable "Phantasmagoria In Two" and "Knight-Errant" and the brief but lush "Morning Glory," which was released as a single.

The rest is taken up by the eight minute title track, a portrait of life as seen through the eyes of a folk troubadour: "The velocity addicts explode on the highway / Ignoring the journey and moving so fast / Their nerves fall apart and they gasp but can't breathe ... (They) look up aghast / And I wave goodbye to speed / And smile hello to a rose." This was 45 years ago; if Buckley was still alive, imagine what he would say now. The song is a bit too ambitious for its own good, attempting a multi-part suite that abruptly changes course when it gets going, but Buckley's voice and conviction nearly makes the whole damn thing work.

Yes, the album is far from perfect, but the best moments make Goodbye And Hello worth seeking out (or at least starting with "Pleasant Street" and working from there) and prove that Buckley, as so many have said, really did deserve a wider audience.

Rating: B

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



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