was one of the cult singer/songwriter's most important creative colleagues, co-writing much of
's best material.
started writing together in the mid-'60s, when both were teenagers in the Southern Californian group
), and got as far as making a demo that was instrumental in catching the attention of Elektra Records. Elektra, however, was interested in working with
as a band.
's first couple of LPs, both as frequent songwriting collaborator and as an associate whose input into arrangements and recording was accepted in the studio.
's self-titled 1966 debut, and on his 1967 follow-up, Goodbye and Hello
co-wrote about half the tunes (the others were penned solely by Buckley
). In general, the Beckett
compositions were distinguished from those Buckley
wrote alone by the literary, metaphysical tone of Beckett
's lyrics, which had little counterpart in rock or folk-rock in 1966 and 1967. In the hands of a less-gifted melody writer and vocalist than Buckley
, they may have been too ambitious to get pulled off, but they fit Buckley
's own searching, yearning persona well.
efforts on Tim Buckley
were "I Can't See You," "Song Slowly Song," and "Song of the Magician." Even more impressive was the title track of Goodbye and Hello
, originally constructed by Beckett
as a piece in which two voices would sing different lyrics (which are even laid out in different columns on the album cover) and counterpoint melodies. Buckley
ended up just alternating lines from the two sets of prose, but they certainly reflected the pair's determination not just to move away from the usual singer/songwriter relationship song, but also to experiment with different forms of lyric structure altogether. Other Beckett
highlights on Goodbye and Hello
were the powerful anti-war statement "No Man Can Find the War," "Morning Glory" (which Linda Ronstadt
covered under the title "Hobo"), and the lovely "Hallucinations," the only song the duo wrote in which the melody came first, rather than the words.
's third album, Happy Sad
, the performer decided to suspend the Beckett
collaboration and write all of the material by himself. Beckett
in any case was drafted, serving a year before being discharged as unsuitable. He and Buckley
remained good friends, however, and resumed their songwriting partnership for Buckley
's 1970 album Starsailor
is the most challenging, experimental work by Buckley
, and the Beckett
team composed half of its tracks, including the highlights "Moulin Rouge" (a French tune that was about the only lighthearted moment on the record) and the title cut. Beckett
did co-write, on a more sporadic basis, songs that appeared on subsequent Buckley
albums, but was not as intimately involved in the singer's career from the time between Starsailor
's death in 1975. As of 1999, he was still active as a poet, writer, and lyricist in Portland, OR.