Before Jeff Buckley’s career was tragically cut short in 1997, the singer-songwriter cut deep with his satin vocals and heart-piercing lyrics. From his poignant rendition of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” to the pained wail of “Lover, You Should’ve Come Over,” Buckley’s music was one of a kind.
In honor of the late singer’s birthday (Nov. 17), we’re going through a few of his lyrics that prove his prowess with a pen. Revisit the best of Buckley below.
1. My kingdom for a kiss upon her shoulder / It’s never over / All my riches for her smiles / When I’ve slept so soft against her (Lover, You Should’ve Come Over)
Though there are many noteworthy lines in “Lover, You Should’ve Come Over,” it’s the bridge that strikes the strongest emotional chord. It’s in the lines above that he fully bares all of the pent-up yearnings.
2. All flowers in time bend towards the sun, I know you say there’s no one for you, but here is one (All Flowers In Time Bend Towards The Sun)
Though never released commercially, this duet between Buckley and Elizabeth Fraser became a deep-cut favorite of fans. Buckley and Fraser trade verses on the song, singing about their star-crossed relationship in the moody fashion only they could pull off.
3. Too young to hold on and too old to break free and run (Lover, You Should’ve Come Over)
Circling back to “Lover, You Should’ve Come Over,” we’re taking a look at the pre-chorus above. In these lyrics, Buckley finds himself stuck in the middle. His immaturity won’t let him give the proper attention to his relationship while at the same time he can’t afford to just call it off. It’s a familiar fork in the road for many a 20-something.
4. You’re a woman, I’m a calf / You’re a window, I’m a knife (Morning Theft)
“Morning Theft” was written for Fraser amid her and Buckley’s relationship. Like much of Buckley’s music, the song is an extended metaphor. In the lines above, he gives Fraser a sense of maturity while he paints himself as young and inexperienced; she is transparent and open and he is dangerous and cold. Though it’s one of Buckley’s more elusive analogies, it is one of his sharpest lines when you boil it down.
5. Just like the ocean, always in love with the moon (Opened Once)
Buckley conflates the magnetic pull between him and, presumably, Fraser to that of the ocean and the moon. If Buckley is anything, it’s dramatic. Lines like the one above give the listener license to wallow in our most core-shaking feelings.
Photo by David Gahr/Getty Images