The opening track Mojo Pin was first written by Jeff Buckley and Gary Lucas in New York in 1991. What does Mojo Pin mean? Mojo Pin is another saying for a shot of heroine, and in this track, Jeff Buckley is talking about feelings of addiction. “If only you’d come back to me/If you laid at my side/Wouldn’t need no Mojo Pin/To keep me satisfied” I think what Buckley is talking about is the addiction to a person, someone dear to him, possibly a woman? He doesn’t want them to leave him, eventually, when the time comes his life will collapse and will start getting addicted, stick the Mojo Pin inside of him (Needle) and let the white horses flow (heroine or drugs in general). God, what an opening track this is. Right away you are introduced to Buckley’s somehow calm soothing voice but at the same time aggressive and mean at the same time. It’s starts off very calm and then gradually gets more and more chaotic as the song progresses, as by the end, Buckley is screaming, and it is where the instrumentation gets all insane. I will never forget the first time I listened to this song; I was so shellshocked by the end of the song. I was attached to this man’s singing, I wondered: How could it get better? And then the next song came on…
The next track “Grace” was also written at the same time as Mojo Pin and was the album’s first single. This track seems to tackle the idea of death and Buckley is not anymore afraid to die. “Well, it’s my time coming, I’m not afraid, afraid to die.” Buckley also mentions a woman who is afraid to die as she weeps on his arm, and she doesn’t want to face the bright lights of death. Buckley clearly didn’t fear death in fact, he cherished this idea of Grace and he thought that it mattered the most though all the tragedies and pain someone may go through in their life. It’s Grace that helps people from ending their lives so fast, it’s their one saving grace from ending their lives and seeing the bright lights. Wow, this song hits hard, especially emotionally. The theme of death isn’t something that can be talked about casually, but Buckley seems to do it. This song is my favorite song of all time, it makes me think a lot about what will happen to me when I die, and how people will take my death, it honestly makes me very sad. Buckley’s singing here is absolutely unmatched, his voice is so beautiful to a point where it seems like an angel is singing. Buckley has such a melodic singing ability which drives the point of death even deeper into the listener’s mind. The lyrics to the song make me think about Buckley’s death, if it was suicide or not, because he alludes to drowning in the song (“I feel them drown my name”). Every time I listen to this song it gives me goosebumps and chills, it’s so heavy hitting I can’t help to come back to it.
Last Goodbye, originally titled Unforgiven, was Buckley’s most successful release in the U.S. It was the second single released on his album. Last Goodbye is a song about losing a loved one and having to say goodbye to them. “This is our last goodbye / I hate to feel the love between us die / But it’s over, just hear this and then I’ll go / You gave me more to live for, more than I’ll ever know” God damn, this song makes me extremely happy and yet heart-wrenched, curse you for playing with my emotions Jeff Buckley! But seriously, even though I haven’t been in a relationship with a significant other yet in my life, as I am assuming that is what Jeff Buckley is singing about here since he talks about kissing and stuff, this still hits me hard because of family. Over my life, I have lost a few family members, most notably my great grandparents and my uncle Terry. Loss of a family member or the death of a relationship is one of the hardest things someone can go through, for me the loss of my family members was extremely sad, in fact, the saddest points in my life. Truthfully, I still haven’t gotten over the loss of my family members, and it was the hardest saying my Last Goodbye to them.
Lilac Wine, famously sung by Nina Simone on her 1966 album “Wild is the Wind.” It is a song about a woman parting way with her lover. The drinking of Lilac Wine brings back all the memories they both shared of their love, but the woman goes hazy and forgets about the memories. Buckley in this song is most likely talking about himself losing a relationship with a woman he had a long time ago and how he wants to remember the moments they had together out of desperation and pure agony. This adaptation of Nina Simone’s is nonetheless gut wrenching and is further established through Buckley’s intense singing. Personally, I can’t relate to this song about being in a relationship and losing it but I can totally get how someone could feel sad at this, I mean, the loss of anyone close to us would bring so much despair, to the point where we want to travel back in time to fix what went wrong and fix our mistakes….
So Real, the third single from the album was a song that replaced another called “Forget Her,” which eventually was added onto the album as the final song. What I can assume Buckley is talking about here is his love with someone that was “So Real.” This song to me is so real, the transition from Buckley’s natural soothing voice to the booming instrumentation with Buckley’s loud and rash voice backing it up. I love the energy of this song, the roughness of it, Buckley sounds like he is trying to make a point here, and hell, he has me in a trance.
Probably the most famous song from the album, Hallelujah, was originally created by singer-songwriter folk artist Leonard Cohen is one of the most famous songs of all time. Lots of religious allusions are used in this song such as: “But remember when I moved in you/ And the holy dove was moving too.” Cohen wrote this song to signify a love that has gone rotten and stale. Buckley often used Hallelujah as a closing song in his concerts, as it is probably the most calming song on the album, Buckley’s audience would turn completely silent. This song is used to much in media, most notably for me, Shrek 2 (The best Shrek movie), where Rufus Wainwright’s version is included. I love almost every rendition of this song, Cohen’s being my least favorite, but my favorite has to be Buckley’s. The way he sings it in comparison to Cohen’s and Wainwright’s is just so heavenly and it sounds so much cleaner. It’s Buckley’s version I always come back to, it’s just so amazing. Hallelujah, in my opinion, is the worst track on the album, which is really saying something, since this song is AMAZING.
Lover, You Should’ve Come Over is about a breakup between Buckley and singer/artist Rebecca Moore. In the song Buckley sings about him (a young man) getting over his childish actions as he gets older, saying that his actions were the cause of the breakup. At one of Buckley’s concerts in Italy, before he started this song he stated: “I wrote this song while lying, listening to the telephone in my apartment... but she never called.” I feel as though Buckley is longing for something here, something like love, it seems like Buckley never got a lot of love or failed in sustaining it. It really is a tragedy knowing that he never got to see his dad, he never had love from a father figure when he was younger. After this track is the shortest song on the album, Corpus Christi Carol, which seems to me to be a really nice transition song that clears my mind about the deep lyrics of the tracks on this record. The Corpus Christi Carol is an old English hymn, in which Corpus Christi means Christ’s Body in Latin. Buckley says that this song is about a fairytale of a falcon who takes someone close to the singer to an orchard tree. When the singer goes looking for her, they see the body of their beloved in a chamber next to a bloody night with a tomb with Christ’s body inside of it. It’s amazing how this short of a song can carry such an interesting story. Also, I take back that thing I said about Hallelujah being the “Calmest song on the album,” this definitely takes the cake. When you listen to this song it feels like you’re floating, it’s almost like I’m listening to Brian Eno’s Apollo again.
Eternal Life is the fourth and last single released by Buckley and is the 9th track on the album. This song is such a standout from the rest of the tracks on the album, it just sounds to different, it is so aggressive that it makes me want to fight someone but at the same time feel bad for Buckley because of the way he said, “All I wanna do is love everyone.” It is believed that Buckley took serious inspiration from Led Zeppelin in the making of this song, and I believe that Buckley totally looked up to Robert Plant growing up, I mean, they both have amazing and high-pitched voices; 2 of the best singers of all time. According to Buckley, “This is a song about... it's an angry song. Life's too short and too complicated for people behind desks and people behind masks to be ruining other people's lives, initiating force against other people's lives, on the basis of their income, their color, their class, their religious beliefs, their whatever...” The anger that is personified on the track was inspired by the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., World War 2, the Manson Murders, and Guyana Slaughters. This is up there in my favorites in this album’s track list just because it is simultaneously different from the whole album and still sounding amazing… this is the song I bop my head to when I listen to this album. While this song is among my favorite songs on this album, the next track has to be my favorite song on the album.
Dream Brother is the penultimate song on the album and is by far my favorite just because how relatable it is to me, I could go on and on praising this song but let me share history first. Dream Brother was a song made as a tribute to one of Buckley’s friends who was having a rough patch in his life. His friend, Chris Dowd, was considering leaving his pregnant girlfriend. Buckley didn’t want him to be like his father, Tim Buckley, who divorced Buckley’s mom when he was a month old. Not only do I never see my dad a lot anymore, but my dad is known to be a mean and ferocious person. He is barely ever home, he is always somewhere else, not to mention he has had a drinking and smoking problem. My parents are soon going to divorce, and never in a million years would I want anyone to be like my father…. The number of times I have almost cried to this song is tremendous, it hits in my feels every time.
Finally, the last track on the album is Forget Her, a song that was not originally meant to be on the album as it was replaced by So Real. This was another song that was rumored to be themed after his break-up with Rebecca Moore, just like “Lover, You Should Have Come Over.” This song pretty much builds on the 7th track, by Buckley longing for love again but wanting to forget at the same time. Apparently, the reason Buckley didn’t want to add this song to the album was because he thought the lyrics and structure were to “simple.” When Buckley died, his record label Columbia put it on his album anyways, disrespectfully. The ending track to this album is just like the rest of the songs, it is still a very sad and deep track. While it may not have been Buckley’s favorite song he made, it is most definitely not bad at all.
On May 29th, 1997, Buckley flew to Memphis to advance in new work musically. On the same day, Buckley went swimming in the Wolf River Harbor singing the chorus to Whole Lotta Love by Led Zeppelin. The wake of a tugboat dragged him underwater and then was ruled an “accidental drowning.” Many people to this day debate whether Buckley’s death was an accidental drowning or suicide because of the lyrics in his songs how he wasn’t afraid to die… I would like to think that it was an accidental drowning, because personally, I hate the idea of suicide, it would break my heart if Buckley drowned himself. People like to ponder on how legendary Buckley’s career would have been if he hadn’t had died that Thursday afternoon. Buckley has inspired so many musical artists over time and has inspired me incredibly. I will never forget the amount of Grace Jeff Buckley filled me with the first time I listened to this record, and nor will I stop listening to it. Jeff Buckley, this review was in tribute to you, how you have Graced the hearts of your fans and listeners globally, one of the greatest singers, artists, and people of all time. Thank you, Jeff Buckley, for making this, every time I listen to this album it is always the better hours of my life. Even though you may be gone from this world, this is certainly not my Last Goodbye to you!
Favorite Tracks: Dream Brother, Last Goodbye, Eternal Life