Tim Buckley – Song to the Siren

February 22, 2022
Posted in Blog

As teachers of music at Jenca, it is part of our job to help convey, educate and hopefully inspire our students to embrace music and further it in their own creative musical journey.

With that in mind, we would like to use this platform to promote and flaunt some of our personal choices of songs, be it 30 minute Magnum Opus’s, 3-minute aural explosions of musical energy and power, or once in a lifetime epiphany-inducing moments.

The song chosen today is by the late, much-lamented American singer-songwriter Tim Buckley, whose extraordinarily acrobatic and elastic vocal range can be heard over his nine official studio albums as well as a slew of posthumous live recordings.

He is also remembered for being the estranged father of the much-revered Jeff Buckley, whose sad demise is equally if not more reflected upon by many.

Tim’s Buckley’s primary musical roots were in American Folk a la Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, and Davy Graham as well as The Beatles, but also tellingly, Billie Holiday and Miles Davis whose jazzier leanings would later manifest themselves in what would ultimately become regarded by many as Tim’s masterpiece recording “Starsailor”.

It is from that particular album that I have chosen “Song to the Siren”. This song for me has never ceased to be anything but engaging in its haunting and enchanting aural beauty, it has stood the test of time and is often cited as one the most beautiful songs ever recorded.

Played on a 12 string acoustic guitar (probably Tim’s Guild F-212 capo’d at the 3rd fret ) the song references the luring of sailors to a watery grave by the beckoning sea sirens. As a song, it stands in stark contrast to the rest of the album which is far more avant-garde in its stylings – which at the time divided critics and fans alike and through this alienation led heavily towards Tim’s commercial musical downfall.

An earlier version of “Song to the Siren” played in a different key appears on a video recording of Tim on The Monkees TV Show from 1968.

Over the years it has been reworked and covered by a diverse array of artists, one of the most notable versions is by the musical collective This Mortal Coil ( sung by Elizabeth Fraser of The Cocteau Twins ), but also by Robert Plant, George Michael, John Frusciante ( of the Red Hot Chili Peppers), David Gray, Bryan Ferry, Sinead O’Connor, and Wolf Alice and many others.

Listen to the song and judge for yourself. Enjoy!

If you are interested to learn more about how to play the guitar at Jenca get in touch to book a lesson or perhaps buy some gift vouchers for a family member or special friend. We also offer tuition in piano, singing, drums, bass guitar, and ukulele as well as courses in music production and songwriting.