What was your first?
When I was 14, I started my first job (hosting children’s parties at Maccas. As a result, I haven’t been able to stomach an ice cream cake for 20 years). I used to earn about $4.95 an hour, so it would take me quite a few shifts to save up enough coin to buy a CD. Mostly I used to raid my brothers collection and tape the ones I wanted. 30 bucks was a lot of money to buy them.
Everyone’s got a first album they bought with their own hard-earned, and this was mine – Jeff Buckley, Grace.
I grew up in regional NSW, before the internet…hell, we didn’t even have all the TV channels, let alone an FM station. I used to find out about bands and albums from a combination of RAGE, jjj and Rolling Stone magazine. I can’t actually remember why I bought Grace but it seemed like the one to buy because everyone was talking about Jeff Buckley.
I listened to that album non-stop for about a year. I used to smirk at the cool girls in high school (who’d cottoned on to Jeff months later) who thought that Last Goodbye was a love song (idiots) or that Hallelujah was about religion (fools!). I was a fan of grunge too and used to wonder if Jeff would release a hard rock album next after hearing Eternal Life. I used to wonder what it would be like to be his girlfriend and have him sing you Lover You Should Have Come Over (“a kingdom for a kiss upon her shoulder!” swoon!). Lilac Wine used to make me cry for reasons I was too young to understand.
Sadly none of my questions about Grace were ever really answered. I grew up, Jeff didn’t. When he waded into the Mississippi river, he simply wanted to cool off. He’d swum there before and found it refreshing.
Last night I went to a chat hosted by Steve Berkowitz who is credited with discovering Jeff in a café in NYC in 1991. Steve is in Australia to discuss the Jeff Buckley release “You And I”. This is an album of demos he recorded with Jeff in the early nineties. This was his first time in the studio, he didn’t even have a band and was young, nervous and in-experienced. The result was a bunch of covers (Smiths – Boy With The Thorn In His Side, Zeppelin – Flight Night to name a few) and a demo for a song called Grace that he was tooling around with at the time.
It was incredible to hear firsthand what was happening in the studio with this amazing artist that led us to Grace. Steve spoke about his friend with warmth and amazing clarity like it was only yesterday. He acknowledged how loved he was in Australia and spoke about how reluctant Jeff was to be a pinup in the 90’s. Heartbreakingly, he spoke too about where he was when Jeff passed simply saying “I wish we were talking about his 10th album tonight”.
I went home and trudged through my garage for my old CD’s. After much digging at 10:45pm I found it…my original 90’s copy of Grace. And I cried.
Then smiled at where that love for an album has taken me 20 years on.
Go well Jeff.
“You And I” is out March 11.
Jacqui Kassulke is on Mornings and the Music Manager for Triple M Sydney.
What was the first album you bought with your own hard earned cash? Let us know in the comments.