Song of the Day: Jeff Buckley & Elizabeth Fraser “All Flowers In Time Bend Towards The Sun”

Jeff Buckley & Elizabeth Fraser

Song of the Day: Jeff Buckley & Elizabeth Fraser “All Flowers In Time Bend Towards The Sun”

Sometimes musicians leave some of their best material on the cutting room floor. This is certainly the case with this absolutely stunning duet between the late singer-songwriter Jeff Buckley and Cocteau Twins singer Elizabeth Fraser. This song is built on a gorgeously simple, jangling melody and an acoustic guitar-based arrangement upon which Fraser and Buckley’s voices stand. The song also includes some of Buckley’s most poetic and naked lyrics.  The song came out of a brief and extremely intense romantic affair between Buckley and Fraser at a time that Fraser’s marriage and band, the Cocteau Twins, were both coming to an end. Fraser has talked openly about the song being too difficult for her to listen to because she still feels so emotionally connected with to it. This is certainly a problem compounded by Buckley’s sudden and unexpected early death by drowning in 1997, shortly after the pair had cut the duet.

The song had long been rumored to exist but went largely unheard until a couple of years ago when someone, as of yet still unidentified and in possession of the master tapes, leaked the song online. Because this song was never officially released and because it is so (almost painfully) intimate listening to it almost feels a little like an intrusion. That said, it remains one of my absolute favorite duets and deserves to be more widely heard. It is also a perfect soundtrack for the early spring.

Jeff Buckley was born in Orange, CA in 1966 the son of folk legend Tim Buckley. Like his farther, Jeff Buckley proved to be a formidable singer, songwriter and guitarist in his own right, Emerging as a rising talent in the early 90s. Buckley’s influences were wide – his sets were infamous for including everything from Led Zeppelin covers to deep readings from the work of Sufi mystic singer, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, the latter who Buckley referred to as “My Elvis“. Buckley also possessed a bright and affable personality, often filling his sets with jokes, musical impressions and anecdotes about his life. Buckley only released one studio album during his lifetime, the wonderful record, Grace (which features his most famous track, a cover of Leonard Cohen‘s song “Hallelujah“). Buckley was working on his follow-up record when he was found drowned and fully-clothed in the Mississippi River. Buckley was well-known for his frequently impetuous behavior throughout life and it is thought that he went for an impromptu swim in the river and was caught by a passing boat. This was deeply tragic and the world was robbed of a singular and wonderful talent. What Buckley would have done next has long been speculated upon by music fans and critics. A steady stream of demos, live recordings and song sketches put to tape by Buckley have trickled out over the years.

Elizabeth Fraser hails from Grangemouth, Scotland and was the singer of one of the seminal British indie bands of the 80s and early 90s: The Cocteau Twins. Fraser joined the band when she was only 17 after the two other members of the group, Robin Guthrie and Will Heggie noticed her dancing in a nightclub. The band managed to land an audition and radio spot with famed BBC radio personality, John Peel, and were subsequently signed to well-regarded indie label 4AD. The band’s music touched on themes of alientation and featured highly introspective lyrics written by Fraser. The group cut 8 records together, including the highly critcally regarded albums Treasure and Heaven or Las VegasFraser and Guthrie also formed a relationship and had a daughter together, but Guthrie’s heavy use of drugs and alcohol eventually led to its deterioration and the subsequent breakup of the band. It was during this period that Fraser met Buckley. The two formed a closed friendship and romantic relationship. While the romance did not last, they stayed very close until Buckley’s sudden death. Fraser went on to a successful solo career and is especially well known for her guest vocal spot on Massive Attack‘s song “Teardrop”, a song that Fraser wrote the lyrics to in the immediate aftermath of learning about Jeff Buckley’s death.

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