USA, 1969, singer-songwriter / psychedelic folk

Tim BuckleyBlue Afternoon: There are all too often those moments in singing competitions where the singer hits the high note and sustains it for a long time, letting the voice vibrate out over the audience. If the note is held too long, applause will inevitably start, and then the cameras will zoom in on the celebrity judges’ faces. The judges know the cameras are on them, and so for the sake of ratings, they will pretend to wipe away tears as they, too, applaud with much manufactured emotion. Those are the moments of TV “magic” that make me recoil in horror. And then there are vocalists like Tim Buckley who are the antithesis of all that. His voice is a crafted instrument, and often he, too, will hold a note, but he’s not doing it for applause. In fact, often what he does—his extension and vibrato—can be a bit unsettling, which is just the effect he’s going for. When the TV competition singers go for those long, high, sustained notes, you know exactly where it’s all going. With Buckley, it’s always a refreshing surprise. Evocative, poetic, passionate vocals.

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