The Jeff Buckley Memorial Service
Held at St. Ann's Church in Brooklyn, NY.
In Memoriam: Jeff Buckley
It was one of those nights that makes a difference in your life, when you don't give a damn anymore what the rest of the world thinks, as long as they're thinking it about you, and not just the image you project out of fear, or a desire to be liked.
Our subway stop brought us directly beneath the church, St. Ann's of the Holy Trinity. It was hot. I was sweating, and my head pounded, reminding me how much I loved and missed my air conditioner. When we turned the corner, toward the front doors of the church, we were met with a beautiful spring-like breeze, and a small camp of mourners. It looked the way old churches in even older cities are supposed to look; black and imposing against a bright summer sky, making you feel like you owe somebody, somewhere, something . . . maybe praise. Who knows?
We waited and talked amongst ourselves, sharing cookies and memories. We spotted the black shoes, black pants, black belt, shirt, sunglasses, hair and goatee running across the street, toward the church's side entrance, and immediately knew Nathan Larson, of Shudder to Think. He looked less happy than the building crowd, and obviously had greater reason. He was a friend.
When the doors opened, we worked our way into the line of "Jeff Buckley: Eternal Life Mailing List" members, who were unfairly ushered in before those who'd waited longer, but lacked a modem. But we'd waited, and we've loved long enough to mourn, and two among our group of four were list members. So we entered. A disco ball hung from the arched ceiling, and a movie screen showed a still of Jeff beside a mirror. Kazoo's, guitar picks, and programs were handed out at the door. We later learned the guitar picks were the remnants of a cancelled order for the next tour, and the kazoo's . . . well, read on.
We found our seats and upon them fans, like the kind a geisha would use, or perhaps parishioners longing for air conditioning. We waited with the plaintive cries of Reverend Al Green on the sound system to console us. On the stage, sat the urn holding Jeff's ashes, beside his signature Fender Telecaster.
Fr. Lewis Marshall spoke of Jeff, of his love for the church, and the church's love for him. He spoke words of consolation, but he never tried to explain Jeff's death away. He said no belief system he knows of "could make sense of such a senseless" event. He asked that we make the world a better place through the energy and love and creativity that is, not was Jeff Buckley.
"Not all of me is dust, Within my song,
safe from the worm, my spirit will survive."
Jeff's aunt, Peggy Hagberg, was the first of many to tell us about Scotty, and that she'd only ever called him Jeff once. She read a poem she'd written for his 30th birthday, recalling the intrusion he was when born, "that baby my sister was having." But he soon became plaything, then playmate, then friend. She lamented the loss of her special child to the dual person he'd become in manhood and fame. She read from her paper the words "My Scotty . . ." and nodding toward the still on the movie screen, she weeped "that Jeff" and quietly walked away.
His brother Corey Moorehead, and sister Ann-Marie Huck, the children of the stepfather who raised him (Ron Moorehead,) approached the microphone next. Ann-Marie told us about Jeff's life growing up, about his meeting with Tim when he was 8 or 9, about how he never put his guitar down after that meeting. She told us about Tim's overdose, and how it affected "Scotty",
and about the time they went to see "Rose", and how upset "Scotty" was when she overdosed . . . they had to leave the theater. She said "Scotty" always held a dark portion of himself away, a part she could never touch. She cried as she spoke to him, saying she hoped he'd finally found peace in his father's arms.
Corey read a poem Jeff had written sometime in the last five years. I believe it was called "Momma dogga". It was a beautifully written, funny poem from a child's perspective, on the love of a dog and a boy, and it lightened the mood. The poem urged us all to learn to live dog-a way. To hear it, you'd really understand.
Michael Tighe and Parker Kindred (guitar and drums from Jeff's band) walked on stage with Nathan Larson (guitar/vocals, of Shudder to Think, Mind Science of the Mind) and Joan Wasser (violin, of the Dambuilders, and Mind Science of the Mind.) They played a beautiful instrumental piece, with breathtaking violin from Jeff's former lover, and deeply emotional playing from his friends. They walked off as silently as they'd walked on.
Michael Tighe was scheduled to speak next, but the church's creative director took his place and told us how much Jeff loved everyone and wanted us all to love him. She spoke of the way he made us all feel we were special because we all had a place in his heart. She read a poem from Lou Reed, as a way to tell us Jeff was our mirror, to remind us how beautiful we really are, when we forget.
There was a presentation from Columbia Records, showing interview segments, and video clips, revealing live footage, and tales of the recording of Grace.
Rebecca Moore, a longtime friend and lover sat at the piano, and admitted she was shaken by the video presentation. She related the tale of Jeff and her cat, how Jeff made it his mission to make this cat love him. She came home one night to find Jeff with his hands around the cat's neck screaming "Love me!" She said that was the way Jeff wanted the world. She performed, and sang a terribly emotional song, and walked off as quietly as all the others.
Jeff's mother followed, and let his cousin, Kelly Hagberg, speak first. She told us about Jeff's sense of humor, and his undying need to create music. He would imitate every character in Saturday Night Fever, do Steve Martin's "Wild and crazy guy" better than Steve Martin, play Nintendo with her little
brother, or a song on a Fisher Price guitar. Jeff believed we should make music every chance we got, so we played "You Are My Sunshine" on the kazoo's we were handed at the door. Once for practice, once quietly, and once to blow the roof off.
His mother, Mary Guibert, was amazing; composed and eloquent. She was a natural speaker who drew from us both the sadness and jubilation we'd felt throughout the night. She helped us see the reality in his death that none of us could imagine merely as fans, but she comforted us as well. She loves her son, and she loves us because we do too. Mary told us about the program, that the note from Jeff was one she'd found years ago, that she kept on her bulletin board for inspiration. And she told us about the keys, and the guitar pick strewn about the note. They were the items found in his pockets when his body surfaced, on June 4th.
She urged us to make a Golden Promise.
"A Golden Promise is one that must never be broken. It is
made in one's heart to another heart that's just departed
She asked us to "commit 'random acts of kindness and senseless acts
of beauty' ... demonstrate the courage to follow your bliss . . . maybe, just maybe, together we'll be able to repair the damage done to this lowly little world by the untimely passing of this gentle minstrel."
We were shown a full concert from the Metro in Chicago, from 1995; nearly 2 hours long. There were pictures on a wall in the backroom, and a poem by Jeff. Michael Tighe, Parker Kindred, Mary Guibert, and Jeff's siblings mingled in the room, graciously taking time with well-meaning fans.
We left that night, feeling like we had a higher purpose, that things did matter. We left with songs in our hearts, and on our lips. We played our kazoo's on the streets of New York as Mary had asked us too.
Life will not go on as it always had. Life will go on as it always should have.
with love from the delphil
This is a scan of the program handed out at the memorial service. It's a standard US letter size sheet of paper folded in half to 5 1/2" x 8 1/2".