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(Credit: Roy Tee)

Music

20 left-field gems from Jeff Buckley's personal book collection

@SamWKemp

The general consensus is that when Jeff Buckley died on May 29th, 1997, the world lost somebody incredibly special. Despite being just 27 when he drowned in the cold waters of the Mississippi River, Buckley left behind quite the legacy. His only studio album, Grace, for example, carries immense cultural significance and is today revered as one of the defining albums of the 1990s.

Boasting his father’s elastic vocal range and a knack for making his guitar sound like something infinitely more complex than a plank of wood fitted with six steel strings, Buckley quickly earned a reputation as one of the most enigmatic and talented singer-songwriters of his day. The world was just getting to know him when he was snatched away, and so he was quickly mythologised – not least because his estranged father (Tim Buckley) predicted his death in his best-known single ‘Song To The Siren’. It is that mythos that has made his private life such a source of interest, and which convinced his family to share a list of all the books he read in his short life.

The long list of books on Buckley’s reading list was published by his mother, Mary Guibert on Jeff Buckley’s official website. It’s quite dizzying to see how much literature Buckely consumed in just 27 years. I suppose it’s unsurprising really. Like Leonard Cohen and Bob Dylan, he was able to access emotions and states of being that are typically the territories of poets and authors. Buckley was seemingly willing to embrace anything and everything, devouring political treatise like Machiavelli’s The Prince alongside the biographies of his musical idols.

Among the many insights offered by a browse through Buckley’s bookshelves is the realisation that he was committed to knowing the world around him as deeply as possible, embracing the complexity posed by reading the symbolist poetry of notable antisemite and eventual fascist Ezra Pound in tandem with second-wave Feminist works like The Female Eunuch While you might like to work your way through Buckley’s reading list from start to finish, below, we’ve put together a list of 20 titles we’re confident you’ll love. Make sure to check it out.

20 left-field gems from Jeff Buckley’s Library:

  • The Plague by Albert Camus (1947)
  • Writings and Drawings by Bob Dylan (1973)
  • Frankenstein by Mary Shelley (1818)
  • Never Mind The Bollocks: Women Rewrite Punk by Amy Raphael (1995)
  • Selected Poems by Pier Paolo Pasolini (1984)
  • The Wild Boys by William S. Burroughs (1971)
  • Travels in Hyper-Reality by Umberto Eco (1985)
  • Giovanni’s Room by James Baldwin (1956)
  • The Captain’s Verse by Pablo Neruda (1952)
  • Invisible Man by Ralph Elison (1952)
  • Early Works 1970-1979 by Patti Smith (1994)
  • The Subterraneans by Jack Kerouac (1958)
  • Winter of Artifice by Anais Nin (1939)
  • Green Shadows With Whale by Ray Bradbury (1992)
  • Fear And Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson (1971)
  • Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman (1855)
  • The Doors: The Illustrated History by Danny Sugarman (1983)
  • Hank Williams: The Complete Lyrics by Don Cusic (1993)
  • The Prince by Machiavelli (1532)
  • Travels With Charey by John Steinbeck (1962)