Long afloat on shipless oceans
I did all my best to smile
‘Til your singing eyes and fingers
Drew me loving to your isle
Melody and lyrics combined is a lethal combination in Tim Buckley’s ‘Song To The Siren’, a haunting ballad about surrendering to a love that gives nothing in return. Buckley takes us out for a stroll, out on the edge of loneliness and yearning, using images of the sea, doomed romance and death by drowning to draw us a picture.
The metaphorical lyrics – referencing the ancient Greek myth of sea nymphs luring sailors to crash onto rocks by their singing – was written by Larry Beckett, a friend and former band mate-turned poet, who dropped off the lyrics at Tim’s home while he was eating breakfast. He later said of this day:
“He glanced at it, pushed it aside, finished eating and reached for his guitar. Looking at the words again, he started singing, and bar minor changes, that’s what you hear now. He had this incredible gift for matching melody to language.
Did I dream you dreamed about me?
Were you hare when I was fox?
Now my foolish boat is leaning
Broken lovelorn on your rocks
Tim Buckley first introduced this song on the last of The Monkees TV series, directed by the groups very own Micky Dolenz (who was a friend of Tim’s) but didn’t record it until his 1970 album, Starsailor, which is also highly regarded as his masterpiece.
Tim Buckley died in 1975, aged 28, of an accidental heroin overdose, only weeks after meeting his nine-year-old son, Jeff, for the first time.
I am as puzzled as the oyster
I am as troubled at the tide
Should I stand amid the breakers?
Or should I lie with death my bride?
Words: Anders Knudsen