"Though you have forgotten all of our rubbish dreams, I find myself searching through the ashes of our ruins."
If Tim Buckley's eponymous debut album bore, too distinctly, the imprint of Elektra's desire to frame him as a baroque folk-singer with commercial aspirations (though ironically the album was all but ignored upon its release), then Buckley's second LP, Goodbye and Hello, offers a first glimmer of clarity into the restless, complicated, and singular artistic vision he was quickly developing. Buckley was all of twenty when he recorded this album, less than two years removed from playing with some high-school buddies in a band called The Bohemians. As was often the case from album to album during Buckley's career, the artistic leap between his debut and Goodbye and Hello was significant. This was due, in part, to Elektra's generous decision (given the commercial failure of the first album) to give Buckley and his "Recording Supervisor," Jerry Yester, who had previously manned the production booth for The Association, full artistic freedom in the studio. However, just as important to the success of the album was Buckley's personal growth both as a singer (he had developed an amazing vocal range, including a beautiful falsetto) and as a songwriter (he had already begun to abandon the conventions of the Folk-Rock genre he was identified with). Thematically, Goodbye and Hello traverses much darker territory than its precursor by offering a mix of political songs such as "No Man Can Find the War," a lovely pysche-folk Vietnam War protest song that begins ominously with a bomb blast effect and features a beautifully understated vocal performance by Buckley, and soul-baring introspective songs such as the album's indisputable masterpiece, "Phantasmagoria in Two," an infinitely haunting song with the feel of an Elizabethan ballad that explores the kind of fear and distrust that often kills love in its infancy. Although the live version of this song on Dream Letter: Live in London 1968 is arguably more powerful, the studio version has a languid, almost eerie feel that renders it just as essential. Another highlight is "I Never Asked to Be Your Mountain," which manages to capture the frenetic energy of Buckley's live work while subtly pointing the way to his more mature compositions. The song features some dynamic guitar playing from Buckley as he passionately sings to his ex-wife and child (yes, I mean Jeff), trying to explain, or better yet defend, his absence in their lives. Elektra saw big things for Buckley, so much so that the label's owner, Jac Holzman, rented a billboard on the Sunset Strip in Hollywood to promote the album. While Goodbye and Hello enjoyed only moderate commercial success, it raised the ante on the expectations put on Buckley by his record company and by his fans. As Holzman put it: "[T]he combined effect of his words, his music, his passion, his persona struck a particular resonance [....] He could express anguish that wasn't negative." The result of this was the emergence of Buckley's iconoclastic side that fueled his overt rejection of his status as a folk-singer/hippie-generation spokesman. Nowhere is this more clear than in his discussion of Goodbye and Hello's epic title track: "I just hate the motherfucker. It's like, 'OK motherfuckers, you want a protest song, here it is.' They were bugging the hell out of me so I figured, just this once, and then I wouldn't have to do it again."
Goodbye and Hello (2001 Remaster)
1. No Man Can Find the War (2:58)
2. Carnival Song (3:10)
3. Pleasant Street (5:15)
4. Hallucinations (4:55)
5. I Never Asked to Be Your Mountain (6:02)
6. Once I Was (3:22)
7. Phantasmagoria in Two (3:29)
8. Knight-Errant (2:00)
9. Goodbye and Hello (8:38)
10. Morning Glory (2:52)