• Spoon Setlist

    21 Mar 2010, 16:37

    Sat 20 Mar – Spoon, Deerhunter

    The Mystery Zone
    The Beast and Dragon, Adored
    My Mathematical Mind
    Someone Something
    The Ghost of You Lingers
    Is Love Forever?
    The Fitted Shirt
    I Turn My Camera On
    Written In Reverse
    Who Makes Your Money
    Don't Make Me a Target
    Out Go The Lights
    The Underdog
    I Summon You
    Got Nuffin
    Don't You Evah
    Trouble Comes Running
    Black Like Me

    1st encore:
    The Way We Get By
    Nobody Gets Me But You
    Vittorio E.

    2nd encore:
    Rhythm and Soul
    Small Stakes
    You Got Yr. Cherry Bomb
  • Poor Little Rich Girl

    16 Jun 2008, 13:03

    I'm so broke that I actually woke up crying this morning because I have no idea how I'm going to make it through the week, let alone the rest of the month. My stupid boss cut my hours down, so I'm making about $60 less a week than I usually would, not to mention the $80 I owe my mom every two weeks (don't ask). And the price of gas...Jesus.

    Well, one thing's for sure - whenever you're down and out, music is always going to make you feel better. Or possibly worse, who knows? So all of you out there will benefit from my empty pockets, I present to you my Poor Little Rich Girl mix. At least in this digital age, I can always get free music on the Internet, right?

    Visit my blog to download the tracks. And send me money. Just kidding. Kinda.


    Ayala's Poor Little Rich Girl mix
    1. Jesca Hoop - Money
    2. Carina Round - Take the Money
    3. Eisley - Ten Cent Blues
    4. M.I.A. - 10 Dollar
    5. Cat Power - Lord, Help the Poor and Needy
    6. Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Rich
    7. St. Vincent - Jesus Saves, I Spend
    8. Patty Griffin - Poor Man's House
    9. Emily Haines and the Soft Skeleton - The Lottery
    10. Rilo Kiley - The Moneymaker
    11. Liz Phair - Shitloads of Money
    12. Regina Spektor - 2.99 Cent Blues
    13. The Ettes - Spend My Money
    14.The Smiths - Shoplifters of the World Unite
  • Absolut Sweden megamix

    22 Abr 2008, 17:34

    My obsession with Swedish music just grows and grows by leaps and bounds. I wanted to share a lot of it with you, so I created this Swedish megamix for you all to download! Download it on my blog -


    Track listing:
    1. Frida Hyvonen - I Drive My Friend
    2. Shout Out Louds - You Are Dreaming
    3. Maia Hirasawa - And I Found This Boy
    4. Robyn - Who's That Girl
    5. Jose Gonzalez - Down the Line
    6. Love Is All - Turn the Radio Off
    7. Jens Lekman - A Postcard to Nina
    8. Sahara Hotnights - With or Without Control
    9. Tiger Lou - Oh Horatio
    10. Lykke Li - Little Bit
    11. Peter, Bjorn and John - Amsterdam
    12. Marit Bergman - Out On the Piers
    13. The Cardigans - Godspell
    14. The Knife - We Share Our Mothers' Health
    15. El Perro del Mar - Glory To the World
    16. Jonna Lee - Dried Out Eyes
    17. The Concretes - You Can't Hurry Love
    18. Hello Saferide - Valentine's Day
    19. Anna Ternheim - To Be Gone
    20. Little Dragon - Twice
    21. The Radio Dept. - Pulling Our Weight
    22. Sambassadeur - Kate
    23. Jenny Wilson - Let My Shoes Lead Me Forward
  • My New Music Blog!

    6 Mar 2008, 4:35

    I've finally gotten around to starting my own music blog! It will be where I post all sorts of videos, mp3s, and other news about music that I'm loving and want to share the world!

    Please check it out! (Only my mom has seen it so far and I don't want to be doing this just for her and myself!)

  • My Top 20 Favorite Music Movies

    21 Ene 2008, 23:01

    Because I just spent a cold, lazy afternoon reliving the joy of numbers 1 and 7 on my list. Enjoy! And feel free to leave me recommendations!

    20. O Brother, Where Art Thou?
    A film which pulled off two impossible feats - made me like bluegrass (even if only briefly) and made me like the Coen brothers (I haven't seen No Country for Old Men yet, so I can't judge it by that one).

    19. The Commitments
    This movie embodies the very essence of blue-eyed soul, and competes only with my #1 for greatest Irish rock movie ever made. And it's definitely a feel good movie. I dare anyone to watch this one and not smile!

    18. The Rocky Horror Picture Show
    Oh, the horror! When my film teacher showed this in class last semester, about 80 percent of the class absolutely despised it. They went into it expecting a horror film, not one of the glammiest, sluttiest, and let's face it, most rockin' rock movies ever made! No one makes corsets and fishnets look better than Tim Curry. NO ONE.

    17. Amadeus
    Tom Hulce's portrayal of Mozart in this film makes the legendary composer seem like a true rock star. That in itself helped me fall in love with the movie and helped me to dispel my own made-up notion that all classical music is stodgy and erudite. Definitely one of my all-time faves.

    16. Velvet Goldmine
    It's got Ewan McGregor embodying Iggy Pop and showing off his not-so-little stooge in one of the most impressive performance scenes in a rock movie, and it's also got Ewan and Christian Bale going at it. What more could a rocker girl (or boy, perhaps) ask for in a movie supposedly based on David Bowie's rise to musical stardom? The film is a bit scattered, but the music, costumes, and downright glamminess of it all more than make up for it.

    15. Sid and Nancy
    In a way, I think Gary Oldman was born to play Sid Vicious. This film definitely takes you into the darker side of rock and roll debauchery and introduces us to one of the most infamous and destructive love affairs in rock history. It also takes you right to the beginning of the punk rock revolution in 1970s England.

    14. Dancer in the Dark
    Definitely not for the faint at heart, this film shows us how music can lift us up even in the absolute direst of situations possible. Be prepared to cry until your whole body aches.

    13. Don't Look Back
    One of the greatest rock documentaries ever made, this one gives the viewer a fly-on-the-wall perspective of the young Bob Dylan at his most rebellious, inspired, and beautiful. This is one for the vaults.

    12. Clean
    This little-known indie films is one of my all-time favorites. It's the story of a drug-addicted musician trying to get clean and get her life back together after her husband/bandmate dies of a drug overdose. With appearances by Metric and Tricky, and music by Mazzy Star, this one gets in your brain and never leaves. Plus the cinematography is absolutely stunning.

    11. High Fidelity
    "Did I listen to pop music because I was miserable, or was I miserable because I listened to pop music?" I've often pondered this myself, as I'm sure many of you also have. This is the ultimate romantic comedy for indie music nerds.

    10. Dig!
    The real-life Spinal Tap, and one of the best and most entertaining rock documentaries ever made. My hands-down favorite moment is when an outraged Courtney Taylor of The Dandy Warhols admonishes a smug record exec by declaring, "Do you know how talented I am? I sneeze and hits come out!" To which the exec responds, "Well, we don't have the money to pay for your handkerchiefs." Classic.

    9. Laurel Canyon
    If you haven't seen this one yet, I highly recommend it. The ending's a bit unsatisfying, but Frances McDormand is pitch perfect as a free-spirited rock producer shacking up with the sexy young singer of the band she's producing. This film really captures the vibe of the legendary neighborhood which gives it its title and setting, and also features amazing songs written by Sparklehorse's Mark Linkous and performed wonderfully by actor Alessandro Nivola.

    8. La Vie En Rose
    If Marion Cotillard doesn't win the Oscar for her portrayal of legendary French singer Edith Piaf, I promise you, I will be out for blood.

    7. Hedwig and the Angry Inch
    So you think you don't like musicals, huh? Yeah, that's what I thought before I saw this one too. When people say rock musicals, they very rarely live up to it (I'm talking to you, suckfest-called-Rent!), but this one is definitely a ROCK musical. It's the very heart and soul of punk rock, not to mention that it's fucking hilarious and moving as well. Rock out with your chopped-off cock out!

    6. This Is Spinal Tap
    Because most movies only go up to 10, but this one goes up to 11.

    5. Walk the Line
    Sure, it does cut out some of the sex and drugs that made Johnny Cash an Icon of Badass, but there's only so much stuff you can fit into a movie. As is the case with the best music movies, the performance scenes are the greatest, especially when it's Johnny and June together. Props to Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon for actually singing the songs themselves. Hell, even Marion Cotillard didn't do that!

    4. 24 Hour Party People
    A movie about my favorite genre and time period in music history - '80s post-punk and new wave. This film covers the rise and fall of Tony Wilson and his revolutionary label, Factory Records, as well as the bands he discovered - Joy Division, New Order, and the Happy Mondays, to name a few. It's also a fitting elegy for Wilson, the man once dubbed "the biggest twat in Manchester," who passed away last year.

    3. Almost Famous
    This one was my hands-down favorite for a long time. It's almost like having a backstage pass into the heart of rock and roll, and seeing it through the naive yet excited eyes of the young reporter William Miller. This one is a must-see for all aspiring rock journalists. And for aspiring rock musicians, this one can teach you some valuable lessons on how to NOT look like a dick.

    2. School of Rock
    Another one that pulls off an impossible feat - it's appropriate for the whole family, and yet it still TRULY ROCKS. If I ever need a reminder of how much I love music AND life, this is my go-to movie. It also makes me wonder if any of us grown-ups are as badass and punk as we were at age 9.

    1. Once
    You don't watch this movie - you fall in love with it. This film makes me ecstatically happy and profoundly sad at the same time - happy because the music and the story are so beautiful and joyous, and sad because I can't follow these characters around forever. I never, ever, EVER wanted it to end, and I actually ended up watching it 3 times in one day the first time I rented it. It made me a new and devoted fan of Glen Hansard and his incredible band, The Frames, whom I will now worship and follow like a little adoring puppy. Must see for anyone and everyone.
  • 2007: My Year In Music

    13 Dic 2007, 2:24

    Wow, this year has gone by FAST. It's time once again for the annual "Best of..." list. And may I just say, this year, musically-speaking, has been one of the greatest in recent memory. Never have I had a longer list of records to whittle down to just the most impeccable top 10. It was a daunting task, but we all (myself included) secretly love doing it! So here's a review of my own personal year in music - my faves, my disappointments, and the things that truly surprised me. Enjoy!


    10. Kings of Leon - Because of the Times
    I never cared much for the Kings of Leon before, but this record turned out to be one of the (many) surefire modern masterpieces released this year. The Kings abandoned their usual lyrical repertoire of raunchy sexual antics and looked inside, for songs of reflection about life, love, and most importantly, spirituality. Granted, there are a few rocking "sex and partying" songs on here, but the true poignant moments come on songs like "On Call" and "The Runner", where the sheer honesty and raw vulnerability of the songs transforms the Kings of Leon from just another one-note hipster wet dream band into one of the truly great rock bands of our time. I get the feeling Johnny Cash is smiling down on them from heaven.

    9. Amy Winehouse - Back to Black
    No matter what tragic tabloid-fodder troubles may come to Amy Winehouse, there is no denying that voice. To me, she is like a modern-day Billie Holiday - the voice that aches, and the heartbroken wreck of a woman behind it. When Amy Winehouse sings about pain and heartbreak, you better believe she knows what she's talking about. And even after the dark irony of her smash hit "Rehab" came to light, the song still remains one of the most undeniable and unforgettable songs of the year. As far as her personal life is considered, it doesn't matter to me what she does as long as she manages to keep singing - to me, Amy Winehouse is already the stuff of legend.
    FAVORITE TRACK: Love Is a Losing Game

    8. Spoon - Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga
    I could try to write something clever and articulate that would perfectly describe my love and appreciation for Spoon, but to be honest, Jon Brion said it best in a recent issue of Magnet: "Spoon is the antithesis of your usual indie-rock three-minute great white hopes for commercial victory. What they're doing is classic." This is definitely one of those albums that grows on you, but once it does, it's stuck to you for life. Britt Daniel effortlessly claims his spot as one of America's greatest contemporary songwriters of any genre, as well as one of the greatest and most underrated vocalists. Just listen to his phrasing in "Rhthm and Soul" and you'll know what I'm talking about.
    FAVORITE TRACK: Black Like Me

    7. M.I.A. - Kala
    Very rarely does an artist make a sophomore album which is so fresh and vibrant that it actually renders its predecessor obsolete. Not in a bad way, of course - it's just that Kala is such a bold step forward that you can't imagine ever taking a step back. The entire album seems like some dirty, funky little bootleg with the sickest beats and Maya's deliciously off-kilter rhymes. This is without a doubt the weirdest party album ever made.
    FAVORITE TRACK: Paper Planes

    6. Stars - In Our Bedroom After The War
    While Stars' previous album, 2005's Set Yourself On Fire, was a beautiful melancholy ode to heartbreak, In Our Bedroom After the War feels like an album made by a band who is very much in love - in love with life, love, and of course, music. And best of all, you can actually dance to it! "The Ghost of Genova Heights" and "My Favourite Book" boast some of the sexiest rhythms and vocals put down on tape this year, with lead singer Torquil Campbell giving Britt Daniel a run for his money with that sparkling falsetto.
    FAVORITE TRACK: My Favourite Book

    5. Bat for Lashes - Fur and Gold
    Over the past year, Natasha Khan has become sort of a music icon to me - she's less quirky than Bjork but still more quirky than Fiona Apple, with her endearing boho-fairy style and her wood-sprite music. Fur and Gold is a definite nighttime album, preferably for nights spent dancing in dark forests and roaming the English countryside searching for witches. This album is one that will stay with me for life, and I am dying to see what she'll do next.
    FAVORITE TRACK: Prescilla

    4. Blonde Redhead - 23
    This album was probably one of the most pleasant surprises of the year. I had actually seen Blonde Redhead live when they opened for Interpol two years ago, but never paid them much attention. Then this album came silently creeping into my musical consciousness, and now I can't imagine how I ever existed without them. This is one of the sexiest, and most magical records I've heard in my life. It's almost cinematic in its tone, with each song inviting surreal images into the listener's brain where they transform into palpable emotions sent straight to the heart.
    FAVORITE TRACK: Top Ranking

    3. Radiohead - In Rainbows
    Honestly, even I'm surprised that I didn't place this album higher, considering it is by the Greatest and Most Holiest of All Bands on Earth. But it came roaring out of all of our speakers so quickly and unexpectedly that there almost wasn't time to truly absorb it. But it definitely ranks with Radiohead's finest work; it may very well be their finest work, actually. This is the record where Radiohead finally sing about the one subject that seemed to elude them for all these years - sex. It's the sexiest Radiohead album ever made, without a doubt. One listen to "All I Need" is enough to send hearts and bodies into some serious heat, and it's nice to hear Thom Yorke discover his inner Marvin Gaye on "House of Cards." I only pray they will play Atlanta in 2008, and that I will be lucky enough to see them. It would actually make my musical life complete.

    2. Arcade Fire - Neon Bible
    This album was already going to be my Number #1 on this list from the first time I listened to it when it was released back in March, and it held onto that spot for a good number of months. The Arcade Fire are quickly gaining equality with Radiohead as one of those rare bands which take on an almost religious prescience to me. I may not believe in organized religion, but I believe in the Arcade Fire. Call it sacrilege, but to me, this music is the purest and most intoxicating form of spirituality there is. And their live show was a life-changing event for me, leading to many epiphanies and much inspiration that lasted me well through the year. But of course, only one artist could top that and be my number one...
    FAVORITE TRACK: Windowsill

    1. Feist - The Reminder
    This album became one of my all-time favorites even before it was released (thanks to a leak from one of my last.fm friends - I've forgotten which one of you, but whoever it was, you're an angel!) I don't really know what to say about this album - it's so special to me that words can't really describe it. But you know how you read those interviews with legendary musicians or rock critics and they always talk about that one album that changed everything for them, the one album that they will cherish every day for the rest of their lives? This is that album for me. To me, Leslie Feist ranks right up there with Nina Simone and Jeff Buckley as not only an incredible songwriter, but as a spellbinding singer with a magical gift for interpretation. She is a goddess in my eyes, now and forever, and not a day goes by that this album doesn't pop up somewhere in my consciousness...and on my stereo.
    FAVORITE TRACK: Limit To Your Love

    HONORABLE MENTIONS (the close-but-no-cigar awards)
    Bright Eyes - Cassadaga
    Fields - Everything Last Winter
    PJ Harvey - White Chalk
    Jesca Hoop - Kismet
    Roisin Murphy - Overpowered
    The National - Boxer
    The Shins - Wincing the Night Away
    Shout Out Louds - Our Ill Wills
    St. Vincent - Marry Me
    Travis - The Boy With No Name

    5. Bjork - Volta
    4. Brandi Carlile - The Story
    3. Carina Round - Slow Motion Addict (can you say "sell out"?)
    2. Interpol - Our Love To Admire
    1. Rilo Kiley - Under the Blacklight (a heartbreaking avalanche of SHIT - and yet I still can't stop listening to it)

    5. Fields - Everything Last Winter
    4. Kate Nash - Made of Bricks (mark my words, when this one is properly released in the US next month, you'll all be singing her praises...and her songs)
    3. Jesca Hoop - Kismet
    2. St. Vincent - Marry Me
    1. Bat for Lashes - Fur and Gold

    MY TOP 10 SONGS OF 2007
    10. Bright Eyes - Hot Knives
    9. Jesca Hoop - Summertime
    8. M.I.A. - Paper Planes
    7. Spoon - Black Like Me
    6. Radiohead - All I Need
    5. Rihanna - Umbrella (you can't deny it)
    4. Bat for Lashes - What's a Girl To Do?
    3. Arcade Fire - Keep the Car Running
    2. Amy Winehouse - Rehab
    1. Feist - 1234 (you DEFINITELY can't deny it)

    Arcade Fire
    (2nd place goes to Spoon, if only because it was an outdoor concert on a gorgeous spring evening and I was close enough to the stage that Britt Daniel's hair touched my arm every time he leaned over to tune his guitar. You can't beat that.)

    Here's to 2008!
  • Rilo Kiley - Under The Blacklight

    21 Ago 2007, 18:34

    Rilo Kiley has always been a band comfortable with shape-shifting and change. If you look at their past albums, not only do they change labels several times, they found somewhat seamless ways to incorporate each respective label's aesthetic into their own signature "Rilo Kiley" sound. Take Offs and Landings was a perfect fit with the Barsuk label's roster, all melancholy indie and Death Cab-by lyrics. When they switched to Saddle Creek for 2002's The Execution of All Things, they injected their sound with Conor Oberst's brand of country-folk and biting, sharp introspection, and pulled it off flawlessly.

    Then came the jump to a major label. For 2004's More Adventurous, they signed to Warner Bros. but still kept their indie roots by co-releasing the record on their own label, Brute/Beaute. That record seemed to be the crowning point of Rilo Kiley's evolution - all the sounds that came before blended into a deliciously sweet and heady mixture, with Jenny Lewis' voice taking center stage. It is still the definitive example of what most of us think Rilo Kiley should be.

    But Rilo Kiley's own ideas on that subject might be a bit different, judging by their new album, Under the Blacklight. They've abandoned their own imprint label and put themselves completely in the hands of Warner Bros now. They are, for all intensive purposes, a full-grown rock band, and this new record is the perfect example of what a major-label rock band can do.

    Warning to hardcore fans, though: this is NOT the Rilo Kiley you are used to. The only song that sounds remotely like any of their past work is "The Angels Hung Around," and even that number has a polished veneer to it you wouldn't have found on previous albums. The band has decided to take their major-label money and use it to experiment with a variety of new sounds, including Top 40 R&B, dance-pop, Latin pop, and some very mainstream-sounding rock numbers. This is Rilo Kiley plugged in and ready to rock you.

    "Silver Lining" starts off the record in a comforting way, with Jenny's voice soothing you into thinking maybe this new Rilo Kiley won't be so different. Think again - "The Moneymaker" rocks harder than anything they've done, and the guitar and bass lines are fierce. It's also nice to see a bit of a naughty side in Lewis' lyrics - that sweet-indie-folky-girl image might be just a show after all. "Breakin' Up" is a charming little piece of electro-pop that will stick in your head like glue, and "Dreamworld" holds the dubious distinction of being the first Blake-sung Rilo song that I've actually LIKED. (Sorry, Blake.)

    Despite all the drastic changes, there are really only two missteps on the album. The first is the Latin-tinged "Dejalo," penned by Lewis and her boyfriend, singer-songwriter Johnathan Rice, although it sounds nothing like either one of them at all. It's fun, in a way, but my first thought upon hearing it was, "Umm, Gloria Estefan called, she wants her rejects back." The second song to falter is the closing number, "Give a Little Love," which sounds like something Mary J. Blige would have done in the early 90s, except she would have done it a LOT better.

    It is a bit disappointing to see a band who worked its way into our hearts with acoustic guitars and exquisitely poignant lyrics turn into a guns-blazing, super-polished rock band. The album is definitely lacking the substance and soul of the band's previous efforts, but perhaps we shouldn't fault Rilo Kiley for trying something new. It's good for a band to grow and expand their sensibilities, and not every experiment here is a bad one. For the most part, Under the Blacklight is a pretty decent pop-rock record, one that would have sat comfortably among the likes of Heart and Pat Benatar in the glossy glam of the '80s. In short, it's a horrible Rilo Kiley record. But it's a damn good pop record that definitely stands on its own.

    Rilo Kiley
    Jenny Lewis with The Watson Twins
    The Elected
    Johnathan Rice
  • Rilo Kiley - "The Moneymaker" Video

    2 Jul 2007, 20:04

    This year just keeps getting better and better as far as new albums from my favorite bands go....we've already got Arcade Fire, Arctic Monkeys, The White Stripes, with Interpol and Spoon coming out next week. And on August 21, Rilo Kiley will release their new album Under The Blacklight. And the new video for the first single, "The Moneymaker," has just been released.

    Beware before watching - you have to sit through 8 minutes of skeezy porn stars on an audition, but it fits the song and the vibe of the video perfectly. Then, once the song kicks in.....damn! It's a new side of Rilo Kiley, all sexy, funky, and just plain ROCKING. My sweet little folky Rilo Kiley is now a straight-up rock band, and I really love it. And in keeping with the porn theme, may I say the whole band is looking deliciously doable in this video...particularly Blake and Jenny (yeah I totally would, and you would too!) It all just makes me want to count down the days until Under The Blacklight is released. Enjoy!

    Be warned - not suitable for work!

    The Moneymaker

    Rilo Kiley
  • Natasha Khan and Carina Round: My Two Current Musical Obsessions

    5 Jun 2007, 16:44

    Lately, it seems that the only music I want to listen to is either Carina Round or Bat for Lashes (with its wonderful lead singer/songwriter Natasha Khan). These two women are very intriguing to me for many reasons. Number 1 - they're both exceptionally gorgeous, but in entirely offbeat ways. Carina reminds me of a girlier PJ Harvey, and Natasha has an exotic, mystical edge to her which makes her seem like a fairy from some strange magical land. Number 2 - they're both from England, and you all know what a devoted Anglophile I am! And seeing as they're two young English women of the same age, it makes me think they probably share a lot of the same influences. Number 3 (the most important reason) - their music is INCREDIBLE. Passionate, sexy, and more than a little bit odd, it's everything I want music to be. Which is probably why I can't stop listening to either one of them!

    So here's two videos from my two favorite girls. This is just my way of introducing them to those of you who may not be familiar with these wonderful women!

    Bat for Lashes - What's a Girl to Do?

    "To listen to Bat for Lashes is to be pulled into some exotic otherworld, a place sometimes dark and disturbing, at others sweetly exultant. Expect magic." - Time Out London

    Carina Round - Down Slow

    "....a voice that will leave both sexes needing a cold shower." - Envy

    Recommended for fans of:
    PJ Harvey
    Tori Amos
    Fiona Apple
    Regina Spektor
    Emily Haines & The Soft Skeleton
    Patrick Wolf
    Antony and the Johnsons
    Charlotte Gainsbourg
  • Eternal Life: My Tribute to Jeff Buckley

    29 May 2007, 18:14

    (I'm sorry this is so damn long. I just started writing and it all came out...apparently I had a lot to say!)

    Today is a day for both mourning and celebration. It was on this day, May 29, ten years ago, that the world lost one of the most enchanting and powerful voices music has ever known. It was on this day ten years ago that Jeff Buckley lost his life and gained his legacy in the swirling waters of the Wolf River in Memphis, Tennessee.

    There is nothing I can possibly say to perfectly articulate my love for this man. I am just a mere mortal, an avid listener who has nothing to attach to Buckley’s music but my own emotions and sentimental attachments. But Jeff - he was a legend even before he died. He seemed to me, an outsider looking in, as an angel unjustly tethered to the earth, possessing a voice and natural talent that could have come from no mere mortal. But he was mortal - a beautiful, charming, passionate young man with a wicked sense of humor and an encyclopedic knowledge of music and an all-consuming love for that music which governed his every waking moment. And today, ten years later, what astonishes me most about Jeff is not his awe-inducing talent, his impeccable beauty, or his legion of dedicated fans, which is expanding every day around the world. It’s the fact that I was only a few blocks away from him when he died….and I didn’t even know who he was at the time.

    In the spring of 1997, I was 15 years old and had just finished my freshman year of high school in Columbus, Georgia. For the past year, my divorced mother had rekindled her romance with her old college sweetheart, Shelley (short for Sheldon, which my sister and I never failed to tease him about). Shelley lived in Memphis with his two kids from his first marriage, and when he asked my mother to marry him and she gladly said yes, my sister and I found out we would be moving. My sister, of course, having already left for college and content to be out on her own, was just happy that my mom would be settled with a decent enough man. I, however, was less than thrilled. I had just finished a successful first year of high school. I had made great friends and had become a star of the school’s drama club after starring in the school’s production of the musical Working. My teachers and friends were amazed - That voice came from her?! She’s so quiet in class, I couldn’t believe it! I gained newfound confidence through my vocal talents and made many new friends as a result, and I was already practicing to audition for music school once I graduated. My future seemed set.

    But moving?! I didn’t want to leave my newfound fame and popularity behind. My fears were soon appeased when my mom sweetened the deal with two new pieces of information - first, that I’d have my own room which I could decorate however I liked (my sister and I had been forced to share a tiny room in the house we lived in with my grandmother in Columbus), and second, that I’d be able to attend Memphis’ performing arts high school, Overton High School. Hmmm….maybe Memphis wouldn’t be so bad after all.

    So it came to be that my mother and I traveled to Memphis after my school let out for the year to spend the Memorial Day holiday with Shelley and his kids and for me to get acquainted with my new stepsiblings, and more importantly to me, my new digs. I was already picking out wallpaper in my mind.

    Shelley’s kids made me nervous - there was Gerri, who was a seventeen-year-old Deadhead with green hair and a nose ring who snuck cigarettes when the grown-ups weren’t looking. She, much like my older sister to me, was extremely protective of her baby brother, 13-year-old Keith, who was a skinny, somewhat shy boy who liked to talk basketball with his dad and stuck close to his sister’s side when they were both in the company of strangers. I tried to bond with him by talking to him about school or music, and once by showing him the picture on the cover of the cheesy teen romance novel I was reading which showed three attractive young girls lounging in bikinis. He just turned up his nose at it and uttered a quiet, “Ewww.” Too early for that, I guess. I didn’t know it then, but this strange and scrawny 13-year-old boy was about to introduce me to not one, but TWO of my musical heroes. I never would have guessed it. Keith was about to change my life.

    We spent many days at the new house, lounging around the pool and barbecuing. I was so excited! I had never lived in a house with a pool before, and I had always wanted one! One night, while the grown-ups were downstairs chatting by the pool while the sun went down, I went upstairs to change out of my wet swimsuit and find something good to read in my nice, new bedroom. From down the hall, I heard music coming from Keith’s room. It was dark music, haunting, and almost obscenely sexy. It was a woman singing - “I lost my heart under the bridge to that little girl, so much to me…and now I moan and now I holler.” I was enthralled - I sat outside his door, listening quietly. I had never heard a voice like that before….so dark, so painful, so RAW. I had to hear more.

    I peeked my head around Keith’s door to find him sorting through a pile of baseball cards next to his stereo. He looked up at me for only a second and then returned to his task. “Who is that?” I asked. He looked up at me tentatively and gestured over to the stereo. “It’s PJ Harvey.” “Wow,” I said, “I’ve never heard anything like that before.”

    He got up now, encouraged by my interest in his music. “You like it? Yeah, she’s really cool. She sounds a little like Courtney Love at times, I think.” I didn’t agree with that at all, but I let it slide. This PJ woman was NOTHING like Courtney - in a good way.

    “Where did you hear about her?” I was curious to know where such a shy and strange young boy acquired such spectacular taste.

    “There’s a radio station here that plays her a lot. They play a lot of stuff like that - Nirvana, Sonic Youth, Hole, Smashing Pumpkins. You like Smashing Pumpkins?” He pointed at the poster of Billy Corgan’s gleaming bald head glaring down from the wall over his bed.

    “Sure. I loved Siamese Dream, but I can’t get into the new record that much.”

    “No, it’s really good! I love them.”

    I was pleased with this exchange. Finally, my future stepbrother and I had something to bond over. When I had first tried to talk music with him, I hadn’t expected he would bring up the same kind of artists I had been listening to. I expected his taste to be more, well, juvenile. I seriously underestimated the kid. At first it seemed odd to me - a 13-year-old boy more enthralled by PJ Harvey than the Spice Girls. It became clear to me that this kid was special. His musical taste was clearly run more by his intellect than his hormones, and I greatly appreciated that.

    The next day was a Friday, May 30. We drove around town, looking for a nice place to have lunch. (Barbecue again? I thought. I was getting sick of the smell. But when in Rome…) Gerri was off with her scary friends probably doing scary things, and Keith and I were once again stuck together with my mom and Shelley. We sat in the backseat together and Keith told his dad to put on his radio station - the one he had told me about! So as we drove, my mom and Shelley talked about unimportant things, while Keith and I listened to the radio and talked about the MOST important thing - the music.

    There was a break in the music - although this was clearly a radio station with alternative leanings, they still had to break for commercials and little snippets of news every once in a while. I turned to my mother, ignoring the DJ’s announcements, to ask if we could have something other than barbecue every once in a while. I was trying to start trouble. My mother and I playfully argued about our food preferences for a while, and I heard the name “Jeff Buckley” mentioned over the radio. I paid it no attention. I knew he was a singer, a rather good-looking one at that, but I had only heard one song of his and couldn’t have remembered it if you put a gun to my head. I settled back into my seat and turned to Keith. He had gotten quiet and a bit pale. I figured it was best to just leave him alone. Something had clearly upset him.

    Throughout the entire lunch, Keith remained silent, picking at his food and avoiding our attempts to make conversation. As soon as we got home, he went straight up to his room and shut the door. I wondered if I had missed something….did they say something important on the news that I had missed? What was going on?

    My curiosity led me to his door. I knocked quietly, worried he would get angry at my intrusion. But instead he muttered, “Come in.” I opened the door and found him sitting in the exact same spot he had been the night before, his stereo blasting a beautiful tune, this time with a man’s voice singing. Except this man wasn’t singing like a man - he sang like a woman, all beauty and flourish and romance. “Baby I’ve been here before…I’ve seen this room and I’ve walked this floor, you know I used to live alone before I knew you…Hallelujah, hallelujah.” I could tell this man on the stereo was not the kind of man you dare interrupt, so I stood still and peaceful in Keith’s room, waiting for the song to end.

    When the song was over, Keith pushed the stop button on his stereo. “Who is that?” I asked. “It’s beautiful.”

    “It’s Jeff Buckley.”

    “Oh, I’ve heard of him!”

    “He’s dead.”

    I almost laughed, it was such an unexpected thing to hear. “What?”

    “He’s dead. He went swimming in the river last night, just a few blocks from here, actually, and they think he drowned. He’s dead.”

    “Are you serious?”


    “Jesus.” I had nothing else to say, and neither did Keith. What did we know about death? Two kids, barely teenagers, who were still struggling just to LIVE. Death wasn’t something we could fathom yet. We just stood there, some heavy, awkward cloud hanging over us in Keith’s tiny attic bedroom. He pressed play on the stereo again, and the first chords of “Lover, You Should’ve Come Over” cut through the silence. We listened to the entire song, then the rest of the album, then Keith pressed repeat and we listened to Grace all the way through. By the time it was over, I was living in a new world.

    My mom and I left Memphis two days later. She still had a job back in Columbus to get to, and I had a lot of laying around and listening to music to do. They still hadn’t found Jeff’s body. As my mom and I drove home on the freeway, it was raining. I was sprawled in the backseat, headphones on, Jeff’s voice singing to me for the entire drive. Keith had copied Grace and two PJ Harvey records onto cassettes for me. I figured I had a lifetime to listen to PJ. Jeff needed my immediate attention.

    A few days later, after I had headed to the record store to buy my own copy of Grace, they found Jeff’s body in Memphis, floating peacefully down the Mississippi River. He was thirty years old, and Grace was his only completed album. I listened to it for weeks after, memorizing every lyric, studying the pictures of him in the liner notes….such a beautiful man, it almost hurt to look at him. No one that beautiful and talented should die so young. I would get chills when I listened to “Hallelujah” and heard that beautiful breath he takes in the first few seconds of the song. That part still gives me chills today.

    In retrospect, I feel blessed that I was in Memphis when Jeff died. When I think about it now, it comforts me. I realize that I breathed the same air Jeff was breathing on the last night he was alive. I wonder if our cars had ever passed each other on the road. I wonder just how close I had actually gotten to the living, breathing Jeff Buckley, because now the dead, spectral Jeff Buckley is the only one I have. It also amazes me that the day before Jeff drowned was the day I discovered PJ Harvey, and that the first song I ever heard of hers was “Down By the Water.” In hindsight, there’s no better foreshadowing than that.

    A few months after Jeff died, my mom and Shelley called off their engagement, for reasons I’m still unsure of. No more moving to Memphis, no more performing arts high school, nothing. I never saw or spoke to Keith again. But whenever I listen to Jeff, I remember him. Today I still have a lot of thoughts about Jeff Buckley. I regret never having seen him live, but I also harbor a secret fantasy that when I die and go to heaven, I will be greeted by Jeff singing “Satisfied Mind” just for me at the pearly gates. Sometimes I actually think it’s better that he died so young - if he had lived to see the rise of Britney Spears-and-TRL-obsessed music fans that defined the late ‘90s, it surely would have taken its toll on someone as sensitive as him. And maybe he never would have topped an album like Grace, which will forever be his crowning achievement. If you’re going to die and only leave behind one finished album, that’s the one you want to leave behind.

    All I know now is that, although he may be dead, to his fans, Jeff Buckley is still very much alive. His music is not just music - it’s a voice and a spirit that beats in each of our hearts, that runs through our veins, that helps each and every one of us who is touched by it to live our lives with a bit more passion and romance than we might otherwise have had. Whenever I listen to Jeff now, I feel like he’s in the room with me - like there’s some spirit that possesses my body for the span of a song. The hairs on my arms stand up and I feel some warm sense of comfort wrap around me like some great invisible hug. I’ve talked to other Buckley fans who’ve told me they experience the same feeling. I’m not sure if we’re all just crazy, or there’s just something about Jeff that will never die. I think it’s the latter.

    Jeff Buckley


    A Body Goes Down - Duncan Sheik
    Blind River Boy - Amy Correia
    Eternal Flame - Joan as Police Woman
    Flushed Chest - Joan as Police Woman
    Memphis Skyline - Rufus Wainwright
    Valley of Sound - Heather Nova
    Wave Goodbye - Chris Cornell
    Trying Not to Think About It - Juliana Hatfield
    Memphis - PJ Harvey
    If There Is A Chance - The Cardigans
    Hallelujah - Brandi Carlile
    Morning Theft - Stephen Fretwell