Tune of the Week – “Song to the Siren”
There are times when only a classic will do. “Song to the Siren” is a song which has been covered many, many times. Some of those who have taken the song under their wing have done wonders with it – …
There are times when only a classic will do.
“Song to the Siren” is a song which has been covered many, many times. Some of those who have taken the song under their wing have done wonders with it – This Mortal Coil were probably defined by their version. Some bandits have butchered it as if they were carving lumps of meat from a carcass (hello David Gray and a thousand other awful singer-songwriters).
But no-one has matched what Tim Buckley put into this song, co-written by Buckley and Larry Beckett, in the first place. This is a song which is emotional, divine, troubled, restless and as deep as that “floating, shapeless oceans” and it takes a voice like Buckley’s to really emphasise the song’s trippy, other-wordly sensations.
In fact, the whole of the “Starsailor” album, where this song first appeared in 1970 on Frank Zappa’s Straight label, is an excursion into an out-there zone where Buckley’s freeform folk, soul and jazz articulations make perfect sense. “Starsailor” and “Song to the Siren” remain the work of an unique artist making music which no-one else was even dreaming about.
There’s an amazing video here of Buckley performing the song on the very last episode of The Monkees TV show in March 1968. Check it out.