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Goodbye And Hello: Get Acquainted With Tim Buckley’s First Masterpiece
In Depth

Goodbye And Hello: Get Acquainted With Tim Buckley’s First Masterpiece

Tim Buckley’s second album, ‘Goodbye And Hello’, remains a startling work of raw intimacy and psychedelic extravagance.

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Tim Buckley seemed to have little trouble with the much-fabled “difficult second album”. Goodbye And Hello, the follow-up to his 1966 self-titled debut, is considered one of the Washington, DC-born singer-songwriter’s finest accomplishments.

Five of Goodbye And Hello’s ten songs – No Man Can Find The War, Hallucinations, Knight-Errant, Goodbye And Hello and Morning Glory – were co-written by Buckley and his close friend, the acclaimed poet Larry Beckett. The Californian-born Beckett, who, like Buckley, was just 20 at the time of recording the album, said he was an integral part of the album’s production, “able to make musical suggestions on every track”. Beckett later told The Tim Buckley Archives that he wrote an unpublished review of Goodbye And Hello, in which he described it as “an unabashed duo’s musical commentary on the social climate of America back in 1967”.

Listen to ‘Goodbye And Hello’ here.

Raw intimacy, psychedelic extravagance

The US was mired in the Vietnam War and racial unrest at the time, and the turmoil was reflected in lyrics about drugs, love, war, heartache and disillusionment. Pain is at the heart of this groundbreaking album, which was recorded at Western Recorders, Hollywood, in June 1967. On the track Morning Glory, a song Buckley always referred to simply as “The Hobo”, Buckley and Beckett examined the subject of social isolation and rejection, in a story inspired by Buckley’s early childhood, when he lived in a small southern California community adjacent to a “hobo camp”. This exquisite aching ballad features Wrecking Crew veteran Don Randi on keyboards.

Beckett said he was particularly proud of the title track, citing its “musical ambition” and the freshness of the orchestration and Lee Underwood’s inspired 12-string lead guitar. “The chorus lyrics, whose form was indirectly suggested by James Joyce’s musical experiments in the Sirens episode of Ulysses, were meant to be sung on top of each other, contrapuntally, not side by side, antiphonally,” said Beckett.

There is a dark foreboding to Buckley’s solo tune Pleasant Street, a track produced by Jerry Yester, which references “stony people walking ’round in Christian liquorice clothes”. The song was about heroin addiction, and it was from an overdose of that drug that Buckley would die, eight years after Goodbye And Hello was made.

“Poetry is poetry and songs are songs”

One of the highlights on the album is Once I Was, a wistful folk-style ballad sung from a soldier’s viewpoint as he reflects, “Sometimes I wonder/Just for a while/Will you ever remember me?” The track features haunting harmonica playing from Henry Diltz.

There is a psychedelic tinge to Goodbye And Hello’s sound, something Buckley encouraged musicians such as guitarists John Farsha and Brian Hartzler to experiment with while they were making the album. Buckley’s rhythm section – Carter Collins on congas, Dave Guard on tambourine and drummers Eddie Hoh and Jim Gordon – provided excellent support for his sweet, deep vocal style. The production embraces raw intimacy and psychedelic extravagance, especially on Carnival Song, I Never Asked To Be Your Mountain and the evocative Hallucinations.

On the album’s title track, Buckley displayed his multi-instrumental talents by playing six- and 12-string acoustic guitars, kalimba and vibraphone. He played bottleneck guitar on Phantasmagoria In Two, a delightfully maudlin love song. During a trip to England to promote the album, however, Buckley denied that songs such as Phantasmagoria In Two made him a poet. “Poetry is poetry and songs are songs. I know poets who write things I could never write,” he told Melody Maker in an interview.

“‘Goodbye And Hello’ had magic”

The 42-minute album, which featured Guy Webster’s photograph of Buckley on a cover designed by William S Harvey, was released in mono in August 1967, on Elektra Records, and still offers a striking reminder of how the best Tim Buckley songs combined beautiful melodies with stirring lyrics. When a stereo edition of the album followed, in September, it furthered the experience of listening to Buckley’s unique sound.

Elektra chief Jac Holzman, who is credited as Production Supervisor in the liner notes, said that Buckley came to him with the idea of using Jerry Yester as the producer – and said their relationship was a key factor in the success of a record that is included in the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die. Yester also played piano and organ. “Goodbye And Hello had magic,” said Holzman.

Check out our best Tim Buckley songs to see how many ‘Goodbye And Hello’ tracks made the cut.

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