October 7 – Tim Buckley’s Dream Letter

Tim Buckley – Dream Letter Live in London 1968

Today’s featured album is a live recording by Tim Buckley made on this day 50 years ago at Queen Elizabeth Hall in London, though it wasn’t released until 1990.  It captures Buckley shifting into mid-career, stylistically speaking, and contains mostly songs from his second album, Goodbye and Hello, and his then yet-to-be-released third album, Happy Sad.


Buckley had one of the most distinctive voices in music, featuring a very dynamic vocal range – something that would also be heard from his estranged son years after Tim’s death.  He was exposed to jazz music by his mother and grandmother at a very young age, and as he developed as a musician and songwriter his muse took him places in the realm of jazz and avant-garde that all but ensured his commercial failure.  Despite this, much of his catalog is highly regarded by critics (and this fan).

But at the time of this performance Buckley was still in folk-jazz mode, and he performed with a band featuring Lee Underwood on guitar, David Friedman on vibraphone, and Pentangle’s Danny Thompson on stand-up bass.  The recording also shows Buckley had a sense of humor, judging from the between-song banter.  On the whole, I consider Dream Letter to be a very enjoyable listen.  Standouts for me include Buzzin’ Fly, Phantasmagoria in Two, Carnival Song/Hi Lily, Hi LoDream Letter/Happy Time, and Wayfaring Stranger/You Got Me Running.  This is a beautifully recorded concert, delivered in full on this release.


Tim Buckley seems to have been “one of those artists” for whom things just didn’t fall into place, and he also didn’t help himself when it came to album sales and expanding his audience.  He was shy and not friendly with the media, and his rather extreme stylistic changes, which almost seemed to be made out of spite, only alienated what fan base he did have as the 1970’s ensued.  When he died of a heroin overdose in 1975, he was broke and had met his young son and future shooting star, Jeff, one time.


Disc One:

  1. Introduction
  2. Buzzin’ Fly
  3. Phantasmagoria in Two
  4. Morning Glory
  5. Dolphins
  6. I’ve Been Out Walking
  7. The Earth is Broken
  8. Who Do You Love?
  9. Pleasant Street/You Keep Me Hanging On

Disc Two:

  1. Love from Room 109/Strange Feelin’
  2. Carnival Song/Hi Lily, Hi Lo
  3. Hallucinations
  4. Troubadour
  5. Dream Letter/Happy Time
  6. Wayfaring Stranger/You Got Me Runnin’
  7. Once I Was






8 thoughts on “October 7 – Tim Buckley’s Dream Letter”

  1. My introduction to Tim Buckley was on a Monkees episode of all places. Loved his voice and his songwriting. Van Morrison, Bob Dylan and Neil Young can switch gears and people stay with them but some like Tim…like you said alienate people with change.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh yes Frank Zappa also! That was my first exposure to him. The very opposite…
        Something about Buckley I found out from Gregg Allman’s book. Gregg Allman said in an interview that he wanted to make an album with Tim Buckley… Tim called him up and said he would love to and they were going to do it…then Buckley passed away…An odd pairing but interesting.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Michael Jackson and Prince, Kurt Cobain and Michael Stipe, Elvis P being produced by David Bowie… Dwight Yoakam mentioned the later almost or thought about pairing….

        that would be a good topic

        Liked by 1 person

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