Sunday, June 14, 2009

Feature: 'Grace around the world' for Tom Magazine

For Tom Magazine.
Grace Around The World

Jeff Buckley’s tragic death at the untimely age of thirty-one, back in 1997, left thousands of fans devastated. None more so, however, than Jeff’s self-proclaimed biggest fan, Mary Guibert, his mother. As this year marks the 15th anniversary of Buckley’s esteemed Grace, we chat with the woman who has dedicated the last twelve years of her life to preserving Jeff’s legacy. Guibert is the executive producer of a CD/DVD of Buckley’s Grace, performed live at venues across the globe, which has just hit shelves. Grace Around the World may be Guibert’s latest pet project, but she’s been responsible for every post-humus Buckley release, from the incomplete record, Sketches for my Sweetheart the Drunk, to the documentary of his life to be released next year.

"We knew from the very beginning that some of the footage existed, but they were stones without relation," Guibert says of her son’s concert footage. "But as folks started cleaning out their closets, going through boxes and saying ‘Do I really need this cassette anymore?’, footage started to show up of performances and interviews, and we knew we could make a cohesive programme."

Guibert says that Grace Around the World is mainly for previous Buckley fans, but she won’t rule out the possibility of the release drawing in new listeners. "It’s not going to be selling millions of copies like a new release would, however, it’s a special occasion and I don’t think you ever outgrow Jeff," Guibert says. "The guys who discovered him when they were 17 and are now in their twenties still listen to Jeff, the guys that discovered him in ‘94 in their thirties have turned their teenage kids on to him now. If anything his fan base has grown over the last twelve years."

The release couldn’t have come at a better time, with Buckley’s version of ‘Hallelujah’ going to #1 on the Digital Charts last year when an American Idol contestant sung a cover of it, and viewers rushed to download Buckley’s. Guibert says she’s surprised at the relevancy of her son’s music, even today.

"It’s very gratifying and surprising that in this world of marketing, you can still have somebody gaining popularity without elaborate marketing campaigns," she says. "Because the truth of the matter is that we have not marketed at all, and that has to speak for something. Jeff’s music had a spiritual value that lives on, and that speaks to people on their own level."

Guibert, whose folk-singer ex-husband, Tim Buckley also died young, of a drug overdose in 1975, says she finds the process of going through footage of her son emotional, but equally as rewarding.

"I worked with a box of Kleenex next to me," she admits. "I weep at everything; as an artistic person, when I see a beautiful painting, I weep. So as an artist, and as a mum, there are so many reasons for me to weep when I’m watching footage of Jeff’s performances."

"But then, in the next scene he’s shoving fries in his mouth or something, and then I’m laughing - that’s what balances it out for me, and makes it more satisfying. It’s hard sometimes, but I can’t imagine doing anything else with my life after losing Jeff. I cannot imagine doing anything else."

Grace Around the World is a complete visual replica of the Grace album, with one exception - the track, ‘Corpus Christi Carroll’ was never performed live, however, ‘What Will You Say’, released in 2000 on the Mystery White Boy live record, was often performed, and has been added as a substitute. Guibert names that performance as her favourite, saying it "is just so moving and emotional, for him, and for me".

Buckley fans who are desperately hanging out for information on the upcoming, Amazing Grace doco will be disappointed - Guibert says they’re still in the foundation stages of production.

"I have two producers working with me on that, and we’re taking it one phase at a time," she says. "Everyone wants me to name who’s playing Jeff, but we’re not even thinking about it yet, so I’ll just let the fans speculate."

Amazing Grace certainly won’t be the last we’ll see of Buckley, if Guibert has anything to say about it - she’s planning to release some of the radio recordings from his salad days. "One radio programme host has 14 different shows preserved, and there are others, like, from Australia, with JJJ Radio, he did some ‘in studio’ live performances, as well as some really relevant, poignant interviews," she says.

"There has to be a way to work with those. But, yes, my wheels are always turning," she laughs.

By Anna Angel
Grace Around the World is in stores now through Sony.

1 comment:

  1. Omg omg omg!
    I can't believe you interviewed Jeff Buckley's
    mum! That is so amazingly cool. Great article to, very insightful =]