In December of 1996, two years after his debut album had begun to attract near-unanimous critical acclaim, Jeff Buckley shunned the limelight and without fanfare embarked on a ‘Solo Phantom Tour’ in the U.S.. Assuming various aliases throughout the month (e.g. Smackrobiotic, Topless America, The Halfspeeds), Buckley entertained a number of small crowds in intimate settings his recent success had seemingly made impossible.
A month later, Buckley wrote the following letter as way of an explanation for his fans and posted it to JeffBuckley.com. In May of that year, on the day recording of his second album was to begin, Buckley tragically drowned.
Hi. Buckley again.
The question is, “Why did he tour and not tell us where he was playing? Why why why?”
And the answer is this: There was a time in my life not too long ago when I could show up in a cafe and simply do what I do, make music, learn from performing my music, explore what it means to me, i.e.- have fun while I irritate and/or entertain an audience who doesn’t know me or what I am about. In this situation I have that precious and irreplacable luxury of failure, of risk, of surrender. I worked very hard to get this kind of thing together, this work forum. I loved it then and missed it when it disappeared. All I am doing is reclaiming it. Don’t worry about the phantom solo tours, they are simply my way of survival and my own method of self-assessment and recreation. If they don’t happen…nothing else can. I can at least be all alone with nothing to help me, save myself. Real men maintain their freedom to suck eggs, my dear.
I’m in the middle of some wild shit right now…please be patient, I’m coming soon to a cardboard display case near you and I’m coming out of my hole and we’ll make bonfires out of ticketstubs come the summer.
Merry Christmas all and a kiss for your New Year’s headache.