Revisiting the poignant handwritten apology that Jeff Buckley wrote to Bob Dylan
Jeff Buckley was a troubled soul in his short life. He cruelly departed the world all too soon and he carve out a niche of fandom built on his breathless vocal and sensitive soul, but he was still capable of making the odd mistake.
One time though, Buckley was left with a red face after a serious misstep meant he inadvertently upset his idol, the mercurial singer-songwriter Bob Dylan. Buckley was so shaken by the thought he had to write a letter to apologise. Below you can read it in full.
Buckley had performed in New York at the A Hole In The Wall back in 1993, the night after seeing Bob Dylan perform and decided to treat his audience to an impression of Dylan singing ‘I Want You’ during his performance of ‘Grace’.
Buckley then discussed with his audience the singer’s ability to fluctuate from performance to performance, even suggesting the singer’s live show changed from song to song during the same set. He’d sail through some songs and then was brilliant on others.
The late singer would recall: “People were shouting ‘But he’s still got it, right?’ And I’m going: ‘No. This is not Blonde On Blonde. This is him now. You guys are living in the past.’ Man, the next day I was in Tompkins Square Park, staring at the ground with the snow falling, wishing I was never born. My A&R man was saying, ‘Well, Bob feels dissed.’ But I really didn’t. I just loved him so much I sent him up.”
He felt compelled to initiate contact with Dylan to apologise for this as he felt like it had been taken out of context and it ate him up inside greatly that his idol had been offended by his actions so he decided to send a handwritten letter to try and clear the air.
Read Buckley’s beautifully crafted letter to Dylan below and see the image of the handwritten original, it is unknown whether Bob replied to his words.
I don’t know how to start.
Last Saturday my man Steve Berkowitz broke it to me that you were told of something I’d said from the stage and that you’d felt insulted.
I need for you to listen to me.
I have no way of knowing how my words were translated to you, if their whole meaning and context were intact, but the truth is, is that I was off on a tangent, on a stage, my mind going were it goes, trying to be funny, it wasn’t funny at all, and I fucked up. I really fucked up.
And the worst of it isn’t that your boys were at the gig to hear it — it doesn’t really bother me. It just kills me to know that whatever they told you is what you think I think of you. Not that I love you. Not that I’ve always listened to you, and carry the music with me everywhere I go. Not that I believe in you. And also that your show was great.
It was only the Supper Club crowd that I was cynical about, and that’s what I was trying to get at when I said what I said, and I’m sorry that I’ll never get to make another first impression.
You were really gracious to me, to even allow me backstage to meet you. I’ll never forget you, what you told me, as long as you live. You said “Make a good record man.” And I’m very honored to have met you at all. I’m only sad that I didn’t get a chance to tell you before all this intrigue. The intrigue is not the truth. Lots of eyes will read this letter before it gets to you Bob, which I accept. Some day you’ll know exactly what I mean, man to man.