On his second LP, Tim Buckley was already beginning to fast outgrow his folk singer style origins, and with Goodbye and Hello, he offers the listener a rich tapestry of expressionism that at times defies musical categorisation. Of course at the core of the album is Buckley’s extraordinary voice, which at three and a half octaves was as unique as it was semi-operatic. One thing is certain; Tim’s vocal range was impressive. From feral falsetto to resonant baritone, Buckley doesn’t so much as sing the song, but rather is the song, to the extent that it’s almost impossible to separate one from the other.
Complementing our experimental troubadour was Lee Underwood (guitar), Jimmy Bond and Jim Fielder (bass), Eddie Hoh (drums), and Carter Collins (congas). There were also several guest appearances, including John Forsha and Brian Hartzier (guitar), as well as Henry Diltz (harmonica), all of whom make important contributions of their own.
The beauty is in the multiplicity of material on display. Opener “No Man Can Find the War” has Buckley in political mode, with references to “bomb and flame”, while “Carnival Song” resembles the sort of warped experimentalism one would normally associate with The Beatles circa Sgt. Pepper’s. “Pleasant Street” could easily have appeared on Buckley’s 1972 Greetings From L.A., with its electric guitar and congas, not to mention Tim’s soaring vocals. Like a cherub on heroin.
“Hallucinations” has a bluesy, southern feel to it, with a pinch or two of Irish folk. It might not make the listener hallucinate, but it certainly is atmospheric. The lively “I Never Asked To Be Your Mountain” gives a hint at Buckley’s later works, such as Happy Sad and Lorca, whereas “Once I Was” could nearly pre-date Harvest era Neil Young, where Tim floats and flies around the melodies, colouring them with his own poetic personality.
“Phantasmagoria In Two” is a dainty, reflectively progressive folk tune, although one wonders why he would have recorded the Medieval “Knight-Errant”. The song is indeed pretty, and the lyrics worthy of many an Elizabethan poet I’m sure, however I can’t imagine it melting the hearts of too many modern day maidens any time soon (or at least those born after 1645).
The title track goes through many changes, perhaps too many for this listener. No doubt it is an intelligent piece of epic orchestral-folk, however just like SETI, the intention might be noble but will forever remain lost on these ears, and will likely go largely unnoticed. The final track, “Morning Glory”, contains an angelic choir of vocals recorded by Tim and lyricist Jerry Yester overdubbed on top of one another, and is a splendid way to end what is a remarkable journey from start to finish.
Everyone barks on about Van Morrison’s Astral Weeks, and rightly so, but Buckley was so far ahead of the game as to not even be part of it, which perhaps explains his lack of commercial appeal.
For someone so young to have recorded an album so diverse and mature would be practically unthinkable today. Goodbye and Hello remains the work of a supremely gifted artist, who by the age of 21 displayed a talent that was as transcendent as it was unexpected. Though Buckley was far too restless and musically inquisitive to pin down, seeking to stretch his talents even further, while pushing his vocals into what could be loosely described as other dimensions.