Release Date: Jun 2, 2009
Record label: Sony Legacy
Genre(s): Rock, Alternative, Live
Like the freak accidents that stripped the world of Sam Cooke and Otis Redding at crucial points in their artistic growth, Jeff Buckley’s Memphis drowning almost exactly 12 years ago feels unfair in an eerily depressing way. Like Cooke and Redding before him, Buckley exhibited such a transcendent level of talent during his brief recording career. Listening to his music now, one’s mind fills with thoughts of how improbably and suddenly his life ended and overwhelms in a devastating way that can be rivaled by very few works of art in history.
Jeff Buckley didn't leave behind an extensive body of work: a live EP; his debut LP, Grace; a handful of B-sides; plus an unfinished album. After his untimely death, all this material has seen reissue in some form -- a deluxe version of the debut, a posthumous collection of the incomplete sophomore album -- which meant the only things still left in the vault were more live performances, specifically the ones he gave for TV stations across the globe. Sony/Legacy's 2009 set Grace Around the World rounds up the bulk of these performances and offers them as a CD/DVD set, with the CD offering 12 of the 14 performances on the DVD (a "Last Goodbye" from a January 1995 session for MTV's 120 Minutes and "Vancouver" from the U.K.
For me, Grace is one of those albums. I remember exactly where I bought it (a long-defunct used-CD store-- remember those?-- on Long Island), what the weather was like that day (windows-rolled-all-the-way-down sunny), and the tingly feeling of discovery while listening to it. A lot of people felt that same way, and when Jeff Buckley died three years after its release, his tragedy only added to what would become a bittersweet obsession.