Released in August 1994, Jeff Buckley’s Grace is his lone complete studio album. While it initially sold poorly, it has since become a cult classic, selling over 2 million copies worldwide. It placed #303 on Rolling Stone’s 500 greatest albums of all time list, #13 on Q’s 2005 greatest albums of all time list, and was reportedly David Bowie’s favorite record. Buckley’s version of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” would also become the definitive reading of the song, eventually being inducted into the Library of Congress’s National Recording Registry. Unfortunately, Buckley would not live to see his success. He died in May 1997 at the age of 30 in a drowning accident at Memphis’s Wolf River Harbor.
Why I’ve Been Avoiding It
Grace is an album that comes with an immense amount of mythology and baggage, so getting into it always seemed like work to me. This is an album that is meant to be experienced, and it just never seemed like the right time. Plus, Buckley’s tracks have a tendency to zig when you expect them to zag, so on the few occasions when I did give it a tentative shot, it was difficult to find a foothold. Couple that with the sheer ubiquitousness of “Hallelujah” — which has been featured in The West Wing, The O.C., House M.D., Without a Trace, One Tree Hill, The Edukators, Lord of War, Saint Ralph, Shrek, and Longmire, to name a few — and I just never felt the urgency to give Grace a fair shake. Alas, I do now. Thanks, New Year’s resolutions!