From the Counter: Jeff Buckley's 1983 Fender Telecaster
When we lose a favorite artist, there's an amazing feeling of loss that takes place -- like losing a family member or friend.
That's because the artist seems to know your deepest feelings, seems to share with you their own inner-life.
I think for most of you, and for me, music and musicians seem to resonate the most and will always resonate our core in the deepest, most intimate way.
Jeff Buckley, who passed away way too soon, has been gone for almost 15 years. Fifteen years! And yet his music, fame and popularity is larger than at anytime during his life, with two (two!) movies being filmed as we speak, all kinds of re-mastered box sets of his recording out and new fans discovering him every day.
Which brings me to the real point of this missive: I'm holding his guitar, and it's for sale at my shop.
Jeff used to stop by my store once in a while, get something adjusted, buy strings, kick my cat, etc. Nice guy, and I was a big fan of his father, Tim Buckley. Funny -- I don't ever remember talking to him about his dad ...
Normally, I speak to everyone as if I've known them for years; you'd think I'd be all over him. I guess it didn't feel right at the time, and I knew just enough of the story to think it was kinda sad, anyway. I just knew him as an up-and-coming singer/songwriter with a semi-famous father ...
I also remember the day I was told he was gone -- how shocked, saddened and, well, pissed off at the universe I was ... I mean, What the Fuck?!! With all the little shits runnin' around the world today, why do we always seem to lose the good young ones with somethin' to say?
Anyway, time goes by and I'm visited by a person I know through a mutual friend, and this person has a guitar case. In it was Jeff's famous Tele. Now, this is not a particularly pleasant meeting. The owner of the Tele, who, by the way, always owned the guitar and lent it to Jeff early on and only got it back after Jeff's memorial service, loved Jeff and did not want to sell the guitar. Sadly, money these days is hard to come by, and the person had no choice.
Now, guitars, icons on their own, take on a deep resonance when owned and used by a musician who has touched your center. This particular Tele, an '83 Standard, is one of those guitars. To me, someone whose main focus has been the instruments of the earlier half of the 20th century, an '83 Telecaster is nothing special. This one, however, has resonance, especially for someone who knew the young man and his music.
American Standard Fenders, along with better Ibanez guitars, less expensive Gibsons, etc., helped define the sound emanating from downtown New York and Brooklyn back in the '90s. For a whole generation of kids whose older brothers and sisters played and listened to this music, these are the guitars they want now that they've grown up.
This particular guitar, the Tele with the mirror pickguard that Jeff Buckley used to record "Hallelujah," is gonna go for around $50K, I think. Trust me, Jeff is shakin' his head and laughin' his ass off right about now.
"Remember," he'd say. "I never paid a dime for the fuckin' thing!"
Dan Courtenay owns Chelsea Guitars at 224 W. 23rd St., New York City, 212-675-4993. Visit them on Facebook right here. Stay tuned for the next exciting installment of "From the Counter"!