Wednesday, June 07, 2017

Let Me Drown: Chris Cornell and the Siren (UPDATE)

As I write this it's twenty years ago to the day that Jeff Buckley's body was fished out of the Mississippi River, where he drowned after being caught in the wake of a passing tug while swimming off Mud Island on May 29th. I had a feeling that something might happen in conjunction with this anniversary.

I just had no idea how momentous it would be.

Chris Cornell, who died around midnight May 18th, was very close to Buckley. So much so that he became a de facto curator of Buckley's legacy, acting as his spokesman as well as overseeing and promoting some of Buckley's various posthumous reissues. 

It's entirely possible that the upcoming anniversary was weighing heavily on Cornell's mind and could very well have contributed to the depression that led to his death. Cornell had a combination of drugs (including lorezepam, barbiturates and naloxone) in his system leading some to believe his death was accidental. But it's just as likely he was anesthetizing himself in anticipation of his final act.

Of course, Buckley wasn't the first singer to die with whom Cornell shared a close bond. Late in 2016 Cornell toured with Temple of the Dog, the supergroup he formed to pay tribute to Andrew Wood, with whom Cornell had a formed a close and intense bond. That Wood's death still haunted Cornell was made clear in an interview given while touring with TOTD:
“With all that’s been written about Temple of the Dog recently, it’s reminded me of the original meanings of those songs. Say Hello 2 Heaven, for example, was one of the songs I wrote directly for Andy Wood and the amount of times someone has requested I play that song for someone else who’s died have been numerous. 
That’s great that it’s become this anthem that makes somebody feel some comfort when they’ve lost someone, but recently I’ve become a little more possessive of the idea that this song was actually written for a specific guy and I haven’t forgotten that person. So I’ve been reminding myself and those in the audience where that song came from.”
“I don’t know if you can ever take him out of [my heart and soul].”
Seven years later he'd lose Buckley, who became his confidant while the two wrestled with the pressures of fame. Buckley idolized Cornell and the two spent a lot of time talking on the phone while on tour. These talks were so important to Cornell that he'd take Buckley's old telephone onstage with him during his solo tours.
In 2011 Cornell started turning up on stage to do solo shows with his red phone on a stool next to him. People would shout out what’s the phone for, one day he came clear and said Jeff’s mum gave it to him, Jeff owned that phone and he put it on stage hoping Jeff might call one night.”

Buckley had a lot in common with Andrew Wood- more than a bit androgynous, prolific, eclectic, magnetic. Buckley would heavily influence Cornell's solo career, and the former Soundgarden singer even adopted a weird adaptation of Buckley's hairstyle while promoting his first album Euphoria Morning, which featured a tribute to Buckley that saw Cornell channeling his late friend.


Some have speculated if Buckley's own death was suicide but he often liked to swim in the Wolf River on hot days. He was swimming there with a friend while waiting for his band members to arrive at the Memphis airport. Apparently this kind of behavior was typical for Buckley. A friend said:

“The guy just made a big mistake — put some Led Zep on I’m going to go for a swim, I’ve got my Doc Martens on, what a great idea. He’d actually gone swimming on the Gold Coast with his girlfriend Joan (Wasser) the year before he died. His tour manager John Pope said to me everyone talks about him dying in the river in Memphis but we had to go and pluck him out of the surf. It’s not suicidal, it’s recklessness. That’s how he lived his live from what I could tell. He might have slowed down in his 30s if he made it.”
The Wolf River was once a popular swimming spot but as with Buckley its placid surface disguised a powerful current that led to drowning deaths:
All too often, those tranquil waters proved dangerous, however. More than one child drowned in the swiftly flowing stream, and in the 1950s, when yet another child — a young boy named Ronnie Jones — died there, city leaders decided enough was enough. Funds were raised to build a public swimming pool in Gaisman Park, so the children in North Memphis could have a safer place to play. 
As I've written about extensively, Buckley's death was the last act of a real-time Mystery Play, in which the gifted young singer found himself messing around with forces he didn't quite understand.
There's something else at play, some poetic -or mythic- ending, beneath the exoteric narrative. Something floating around the Symbolic Realm. I can just see it in Euripides and Aeschylus. 
It goes like this: A beautiful and talented young troubadour gets drunk on his own charisma and thoughtlessly toys with a delicate soul who is playing host to something that crossed over from the Other Side. Two thousand years ago, the omens and portents would have been recognized by everyone, from old women to schoolchildren. 
They would have warned him- don't break the Siren's heart.


Indeed, Buckley's fatal error was to toy with the tender heart of Elizabeth Fraser, who had a hit with a cover of Buckley's father's "Song to the Siren." Buckley idolized Fraser and pursued her while she was on tour for the Cocteau Twins' album Four Calendar Cafe. The two enjoyed a brief but powerful affair, which also came when Fraser was at her most emotionally fragile and least able to manage the strange force possessing her.

But Buckley, young rock god, wasn't interested in anything serious:

Buckley had a reputation as a lover man, DNA from his body was kept in case of future paternity cases. 
“He liked the ladies, the ladies liked him. When people’s stars begin to rise there’s a lot of people attracted to them, like moths to a flame, Jeff was like that. At one of his memorial services all these crying women going ‘Oh, you too?’ He had relationships with a lot of ladies over a short period of time. Not just sexual, but close personal friendships. Some didn’t know each other. He squeezed a lot into 30 years and specifically into the last five or six years of his life. Once he got to New York for the tribute to his father, which is where his career started, it was non stop until the time of his death.”
Buckley might have been racking up conquests but Fraser had other ideas. She wrote a number of raw-wound songs about him and even produced a painfully-imploring shortform video addressed to him called Rilkean Dreams shortly after their split. 

It would carry a chilling foreshadowing:

A short film called Rilkean Dreams (Fraser compared Buckley to the poet Rilke) was made in 1994 as a promo for the EP, named after the heart-rending "Rilkean Heart." It's hardly a promo as much as it is a nakedly confessional video love-letter to Buckley, with Fraser explicitly apologizing in song for being too needy and clingy here and then accusing Buckley of being selfish and immature there. But it's the symbolism that gets you. 
The opening shot of Rilkean Dreams is of a slowly rushing river 
Followed by a sunset.  
If ever there was an argument for teaching the art of divining omens and portents in school, that's pretty much it.
Fraser would receive news of Buckley's death at a pivotal time:
The news that Buckley had disappeared – he drowned, swimming in the Wolf river in Memphis – came while Fraser was recording Teardrop with Massive Attack. "That was so weird," she says. "I'd got letters out and I was thinking about him. That song's kind of about him – that's how it feels to me anyway."
The death devastated Fraser and the Cocteau Twins split not long after, seemingly exorcising Fraser and sending her into a semi-retirement ever since. In a bizarre twist, her first solo record would be called 'Underwater.'

And then there's this:

 It seems she (Fraser) is haunted by guilt: for not being there for Buckley, for everything. As she puts it: "I need to forgive myself."
What an odd turn of phrase.

As I detailed in previous posts on this frankly bizarre story, Fraser's discography is rife with startling premonitions of this archetypal drama. Discussing the Cocteau Twins' seminal album Heaven or Las Vegas, we see this:

Omens ignored: OK, here's where this story gets insane. 
The 8th and 9th songs on this album are 'Wolf in the Breast' and the almost unbearably mournful 'Road, River and Rail'.  
Jeff Buckley drowned in the Wolf River in Memphis, which runs parallel to a railroad and is crossed by Interstate 40. 

The Wolf River is on the 89th Meridian West.

The neighborhood at the end of the Wolf River is named Frayser.
Further a reader informed me that the spot where Buckley entered the Wolf River was near the Bayou Gayoso. Fraser also sings the lyric "from out of the bayou" in 'Road, River and Rail.'

Why is any of this relevant? Well, Fraser is an interesting woman. The lyrics to the first Cocteau Twins album (Garlands, 1982) are absolutely soaked in the iconography of witchcraft and the occult. 

Not to mention a song about a river called "Shallow then Halo." As in you're in shallow water (like Buckley actually was) and then you drown.  

In 1982

Fifteen years before Buckley's death.

And soon after Fraser underwent a somewhat startling transformation:

The lyrics to Garlands speak to a more-than-casual familiarity with witchcraft on someone's part, presumably Fraser's. In that context, it should be noted that the singer underwent a rather stunning metamorphosis from 1982 to 1983. 
Her appearance, her wardrobe, her voice, her lyrical style, and her comportment all underwent a radical change. Gone were the punk togs; the provocative leather minis, fishnet stockings and high-heeled boots and in their place were billowy, neo-Victorian frocks (Fraser always wore long sleeves to hide her tattoos). Her lyrics began evolving towards the near-total glossolalia of Treasure, though the lyrics on Head Over Heels still retain the violence and menace of Garlands. 
Even allowing for the effect of makeup, her face (most noticably, her irises) seemed to change- she looked like an entirely new person. You can see it in the live videos as well, where lighting and makeup have less power to disguise (or did back then).
Those are some Thomas Jerome Newton looking eyes

Remarkably, Fraser herself* said she believed she was channeling another force or entity in a 1984 interview. She also claimed her music "wrote itself " (shades of 'Stairway to Heaven'). 

And you know what? I believe her. Without question. Everyone seemed to sense it at the time.


Now what does any of this have to do with Chris Cornell, aside from his shared association with Jeff Buckley?

Well, just like all the Siren symbolism that connects to Jeff Buckley's death, it just so happens that Chris Cornell died just minutes away from the location of a very similar legend:
The Indian demi-god, Sleeping Bear, had a daughter so beautiful that he kept her out of the sight of men in a covered boat that swung on Detroit River, tied to a tree on shore; but the Winds, having seen her when her father had visited her with food, contended so fiercely to possess her that the little cable was snapped and the boat danced on to the keeper of the water-gates, who lived at the outlet of Lake Huron. 
The keeper, filled with admiration for the girl's beauty, claimed the boat and its charming freight, but he had barely received her into his lodge when the angry Winds fell upon him, buffeting him so sorely that he died, and was buried on Peach Island (properly Isle au Peche), where his spirit remained for generations—an oracle sought by Indians before emprise in war. 
His voice had the sound of wind among the reeds, and its meanings could not be told except by those who had prepared themselves by fasting and meditation to receive them. Before planning his campaign against the English, Pontiac fasted here for seven days to "clear his ear" and hear the wisdom of the sighing voice. 
But the Winds were not satisfied with the slaying of the keeper. They tore away his meadows and swept them out as islands. They smashed the damsel's boat and the little bark became Belle Isle. Here Manitou placed the girl, and set a girdle of vicious snakes around the shore to guard her and to put a stop to further contests. These islands in the straits seem to have been favorite places of exile and theatres of transformation.  
Myths and Legends of our Own Land, by Charles M. Skinner (1896)
So we have a variation on the Siren/Lorelei myth here, right near the Fox Theater. 

Jesus. What are the odds?

• We have a victim known for his powerful voice. Right near the Fox Theater.

• We have glossolalia as we have with Elizabeth Fraser.

• We also have a "girdle of vicious snakes." On the last Cocteau Twins album Fraser sings of a "Serpentskirt." 

Fraser posed naked for the cover of that album, which featured a number of songs written about Jeff Buckley (Fraser was clearly still smitten, as this performance indicates) , dedicating "Love and a Thousandfold Rose" to him.  Buckley answered her with the song "Thousandfold", written in Memphis. It included the line "Long time ago I'd died and gone."

• Like Mud Island, Belle Isle is located in a river off a major city. 

• 'Road, River and Rail' not only mentions the bayous but also namedrops the Isle de la Cite in Paris. Both Memphis and Detroit trace their establishment to French colonists. 

• And Jesus, I don't even know how to say it- OK, try this: CHRIS CORNELL RECORDED A SONG CALLED 'THE KEEPER'. In it he sings, "I am the keeper."

Are you getting all this now?

Strangely, Chris Cornell is credited as the author on several different lyric sites of 'Siren Song', written by Cocteau superfan Robert Smith. The lyrics are clearly inspired by Tim Buckley's 'Song to the Siren' and reference "crystal eyes." It also includes the couplet "She sang "Give me your life or I must fly away/And you will never hear this song again."

What's likely is that Cornell covered the song during a concert (Temple of the Dog covered the Cure's 'Fascination Street') and it was mistakenly credited to him by fans. The synchronicity of it all (not to mention "Let Me Drown") and how it seemed to ensnare him is par for the course in the apparently still-unfolding drama of the Siren. 

UPDATE: Now this is going from insane to downright arcane. We saw the juxtaposition of 'Wolf in the Breast' and 'Road, River and Rail' acting as a prophecy of Jeff Buckley's death on the Wolf River. A body of water which- again- terminates at a place called Frayser. We saw the deeply disturbing premonitions- the river and underwater footage running throughout Fraser's heartbroken petitions to Buckley- in Rilkean Dreams. 

And of course the title itself could be interpreted as a reference to the water of the Wolf River in the lungs.

But there's a little detail I overlooked- the lyrics to 'Wolf in the Breast', at least some of which are in English. Now you have to be careful with the lyrics posted on the Internet- they're nearly all guesswork by fans and don't bear any relation to what Fraser actually wrote

That being said, a phrase recognizably repeated throughout is "I'll revenge all I need that day." 

Mind you, this is a song that seems mostly concerned with taking care of a baby.

Now of course, Fraser herself was never consciously aware of this. She hadn't even met Jeff Buckley at this time. But by her own admission she wasn't always in control of the songwriting process, that the songs often wrote themselves. Who may have assisted in this process then? I guess we'll never know.

But given the Celtic extraction of the main players in the drama it's worth looking into the myth of the Leanán Sidhe: 

In Celtic folklore, the leannán sí "Fairy-Lover"[1] (Scottish Gaelic: leannan sìth, Manx: lhiannan shee; [lʲan̴̪-an ˈʃiː]) is a beautiful woman of the Aos Sí ("people of the barrows") who takes a human lover. Lovers of the leannán sídhe are said to live brief, though highly inspired, lives.   
The leannán sídhe is generally depicted as a beautiful muse who offers inspiration to an artist in exchange for their love and devotion; however, this frequently results in madness for the artist, as well as premature death.
Like the Siren, the Leanán Sidhe is said to live at the bottom of the ocean.

UPDATE: It should also be kept in mind that Fraser was recording "Teardrop" with Massive Attack when Buckley died, a song she wrote about their breakup. The lyrics include lines about "black flowers blossom," a common symbol for death.

UPDATE: A Jesus Christ Pose in Detroit? Soundboard recording of Wolf in the Breastfrom 1990. Uploaded in 2015.

UPDATE: Our Gordon reminds us that Memphis- Egypt- literally had a Temple of the Dog, ie., Anubis.

*Fraser was studying Theosophy and Anthrosophy in 2012 at Emerson College, Sussex.

Again, David Lynch tried to license Elizabeth Fraser's version of 'Song to the Siren' for Blue Velvet but was unable to. He later used it in Lost Highway.


  1. Hi Chris,

    This post lit up so many connections and brought so much understanding to what may have happened in the lives of not only Chris Cornell, but in all of the notables around him. And, in allowing us to travel with you, you've shown to us how it connected ultimately back to this broken vessel observation that you also beautifully word crafted and illustrated.

    Thanks, Chris, for sharing your thoughts on all these things. I know you work primarily by yourself without speaking to many people as a result, but you should know that there are so many out here who appreciate what you are doing and what you have done. Believe me, I'm not anybodies fanboy, I just appreciate hard work that stands on its own through integrity and honesty. That's something we can all fellowship around.

  2. I really appreciate that, Bill. This piece was so weird and took me completely by surprise. It was by no means the piece I set out to write and really began to have a major PKD moment as the evidence piled up on me. Truly unexpected.

  3. This is truly brilliant work, my friend. You are very attuned.

    1. I try, my friend. Feeling a bit too attuned lately, if you catch my drift.

  4. Hey Chris,

    Really love all you do with connecting seemingly unrelated events into a mosaic of eerie significance. I recently heard of you through 'Secret History Of Rock 'n' Roll' and it's my new favorite book, you can tell you put an unbelievable amount of research and time into it.

    I've been reading a lot of your posts on Secret Sun too and the idea of 'The Broken Vessel' and famous musicians has got me thinking. I know this definitely was the case with the past generations, but what do you think of the current DJ/Electronic Producers scene? I'm not referring to the pop stars who have people writing tracks for them, but the guys who labor in front of laptops making music that inspires clubbers and festival goers to be moved by the music. It seems like the idea of the 'Broken Vessel' doesn't apply to them, its all way too positive and party-oriented, electronic music almost never focuses on the woeful stuff that previous rock generation would put into their lyrics and ballads.

    Going by the format of 'Secret History of Rock', what archetype(s) do you think these guys are expressing? Is it classic Bacchanalia or is it a whole other DNA line? Just some food for thought, thanks!

    1. First of all thank you for your kind words on SHRR. As to the DJ/Producer scene I'd say most of them fit into the Hermetic archetype. The music itself is strictly Dionysian, but at the same time the genre doesn't really adhere to the same connections that rock music does. It's an entirely different phenomenon in most ways. Which is kind of ironic given the presence of psychedelic drugs in the mix.

      I will say again that I had no intention of this piece working out the way it did until the evidence started piling up. Then it was just a question of assembling the evidence.

  5. Very eerie stuff...Also, I just remembered that something else of occult significance is near the Detroit River as well:

    Not saying they're connected but...juxtaposition-wise its disturbing.

    Also, speaking of Egypt & Temple of the Dog, there's that Memphis Pyramid to consider:

    No less than the infamous Alex Jones has ranted against its existence, too bad its become a bass pro shop:

  6. Oh, yes- the Memphis Pyramid played a very central role in the Siren saga.

  7. Just when I started leaning toward materialism your post reminded me there are other forces at work.
    I want to say that Tim Buckley began this river of weirdness with his "Song to the Siren". Then again, the Siren, herself, existed long before Tim Buckley.

    1. Indeed. Plus, this: In Celtic folklore, the leannán sí "Fairy-Lover"[1] (Scottish Gaelic: leannan sìth, Manx: lhiannan shee; [lʲan̴̪-an ˈʃiː]) is a beautiful woman of the Aos Sí ("people of the barrows") who takes a human lover. Lovers of the leannán sídhe are said to live brief, though highly inspired, lives. The name comes from the Gaelic words for a sweetheart, lover, or concubine and the term for a tumulus or burial mound.[citation needed]

      The leannán sídhe is generally depicted as a beautiful muse who offers inspiration to an artist in exchange for their love and devotion; however, this frequently results in madness for the artist, as well as premature death. W. B. Yeats popularized a slightly different perspective on these spirits with emphasis on their vampiric tendencies:[2]

    2. The Leanan Sidhe, translated as “Fairy lover”, are beautiful Fairies who haunt wells and springs in search of human lovers. Should they accept her love, they are hers forever. Unfortunately, that’s usually not very long, at least not among the living.

      The Leanan Sidhe’s lovers aren’t long-lived but there is compensation: the Leanan Sidhe magically infuses them with poetry and literary skills. The Leanan Sidhe is blamed for the brief lives of many of Ireland’s greatest poets but credited with bestowing or enhancing talent.

      It is not entirely clear whether the Leanan Sidhe consciously, vampirically saps the life essence from her lovers; whether contact with her simply proves too life-draining for mortals or whether the Leanan Sidhe brings her lovers to live with her in an Afterlife.

    3. "The Fairy Mistress or Fairy Sweetheart, Leanan Sidhe (lan-awn shee), is a Celtic muse possessing a dark unearthly beauty. Her names translates directly as My Inspiration (Leanan) Faery (Sidhe). She is sometimes called Lhiannan-Shee (lannan-shee). Legend says she resides under the Irish Sea off the eastern coast of Ireland and roams sometimes roams the Isle of Man at night as she searches for a new lover.

      Her lovers are frequently artists, and all who fall under her spell suffer a keen longing in her absence. In return for the depth of emotion she receives, she inspires genius in her loves. They have been likened to candles burning at both ends: incredibly bright, but lacking the endurance of that which burns normally they expire quickly. Such is often the price of her gift, though it usual results from a great heartbreak or sorrow when she leaves, rather than a malicious intent on the part of the Leanan Sidhe."

    4. I have often wondered at the difference between the Leanan Sidhe and the Nine Greek Muses. The Irish Leanan Sidhe is clearly predatory in seeking out young people (I would say 'young men' but I think women are not so immune to her, either) with artistic abilities who would be hard pressed to resist her tempting offers of endless creativity and poetic genius. Then, having taken the mortal, she feeds on their life energy until they wither from it. Now, on the other hand, the Greek Muses bestowed their gifts willingly and take them away just as willingly but, like the gods they were spawned from, seemed to have their own agendas for who got what, why, and for how long.

      Skipping hand and hand with their relatives, The Charities (or the Graces), the Muses want nothing but to bring joy and lightness to the burden of humanity.

      Now, over to Ireland, and this aspect gets pretty gnarly quickly. But, then most of the Celtic peoples stories and recollections of the Sidhe are never the friendly, happy-go-lucky folk we might imagine. Most people who take the Fairy Faith seriously never ever *want* to meet one of the Sidhe. This is bad joo-joo at best. These meetings, whether by chance or not are never taken lightly and should be treated respectfully and preferably at a distance. If an artist is foolish enough to court a Leanan Sidhe, they had better be made of sterner stuff.

      Stories like 'Tam Lin' and 'Thomas the Rhymer' that relate of mortals doings with the Fair Folk can be pretty ominous and always comes with twisty turns and catches. It is said by some that there is a pact between the Leanan Sidhe and her victim. If she comes to you and you can resist (yeah, good luck with that), then she becomes your slave until your death after a long life. However, if you give in to her (like most do), then she's got you. There was said to be but one escape and one only: You had to find a willing soul to take your place with her.

      So what have we learned? Find yourself a nice Greek girl and write poems from the kitchen table on a napkin. Don't go chasing waterfalls and don't seek the Sidhe. And if you do find one, have some courtesy, have some sympathy, and some taste (Woo woo). Use all your well-learned politesse...yeah, you get it.

  8. Chris, have you read "Touched by Grace" by Gary Lucas, Buckley's former Gods and Monsters bandmate? In it he casually mentions that him and Buckley shared an interest in Kabbalah and mysticism. Perhaps Jeff was somewhat privy to all of this sort of stuff.

    "Chris Cornell remembers Jeff Buckley"

  10. Interesting you mention Yeats - as I was reading I was reminded of the The Wind Among The Reeds. And look at the listing, opening with The Hosting of the Sidhe. All his most beautiful, ethereal love poetry is here.

  11. Very fascinating article! Not that this is anything about anything but for a time there was a surfeit of "Garlands" involved with my personal life about the same time of my own little death and ressurection last year---and in this general time frame I found out JFK was born on garland day And there was a Merrick Garland nominated by 44 for Supremes and a shooting (assoc with terrorism?) in Garland Texas-a place which has significance for my own family-probably nothing but I really pay attention when I hear this word---I need to get that album!
    Thanks as always!

  12. I mean, do you really?//

    The choir responds, "Is that a rhetorical question?" Your point is amazingly well-documented here, and historically. Aside from being a pre-converted choir boy, who is supposed to be humble and shy, let me be frank. Yes, I do. We do. We instantiate archetypes and they us. Or rather, we descend in part from gods, and the gods being an incestuous bunch of fuckers, they still want to fuck around with us -- but in a nice way, perhaps, if we don't mind playing a role, like dogs and cats. We accept vow-leashes, eat god-sanctioned food and receive special favor and encouragement if we attend to them at appropriate times. It works and everyone is happy. If we behave, we are even allowed to ignore their existence altogether.

    I put it crudely, because as a human being I want to be independent, call my own shots, and not take orders from some invisible, anonymous other. On the other hand, the survivor here (and by survival, I mean not of the fittest but of the wittest) has to accept that yes, he's a channel full-time, for the roles his human and non-human benefactors have allowed him. The leash and collar are for his own good, so he doesn't disappear into Vanwinkleville on a magic mushroom. And he is an occasional medium, for better or for worse, when the going gets rough.

    We are meat-brushes and skin flutes, basically, and the gods are playing us and our effluents like Andres Serrano and Lady Gaga. This is why, as an artist, one should always treat one's instruments and media with respect. Smash or burn your guitar for show and end up just like it, for show.

  13. // I mean, think about it; what sounds more like genuine entity possession to you, this or this? // I admit I'm playing catch up here, but love your juxtaposition.

    Since we're being rhetorical, I wonder, which is more natural, and which is more informative: couch-locked and tripping in the same room with a loud, partially-visible chorus of sirens and sprites, or paying hundreds of dollars to be the captive audience on the Long Island Expressway at rush hour of a recently immigrated Indian cab driver evincing a disused Ph.D. and possible delusions of grandeur?

    I would say the former 'tastes great, less unwilling'.

  14. I'm still sorting through how I feel about these associations. Thanks for writing, in any case. It's interesting to read and consider.

    I was living in NYC when Buckley died. Shortly afterward, I was speaking to a woman at a party in Manhattan. We started talking about music and she asked what I was most interested by. I replied Mozart and Jeff Buckley, which was true at the time. Turns out she was a friend of his, and being moved by my naming him, she invited me to the wake his friends were holding for him a day or three later. Stupidly, I didn't go, because I was quite into this woman and was living with a girlfriend at the time.

    I was introduced to Buckley's music a few years prior, while he was touring around promoting GRACE (i guess). I had been visiting with a singer-songwriter friend in Providence, RI, in her illegal living situation. At the close of this visit, she suggested I go across the street to Strawberry Records and hear this guy named Jeff Buckley who was playing there. I took her advice, and walked into a near empty record store to Buckley and his band playing Lover, You Should Have Come Over. Being a young man in the depths of my first real heartbreak, I was completely transfixed and shattered by this song and his singing, standing alone ten feet in front of him.

    I was at the time engaged in my first foray into songwriting and was stunned into silence. Not the healthiest response, but common enough.

    Anyway, thanks again...

  15. As much as I've enjoyed reading through your Fraser/Buckley posts, with all the (too-much-of-a-)coincidences, there are some big holes in your theory. I won't waste your time debating lyric transcriptions, pointing out interview misquotes etc - let's focus on the big flaw staring us in the face on this page (and other pages).
    The girl in that "very early" Cocteaus picture clearly ISN'T our most beloved Elizabeth.
    I believe it's the mysterious Carol (surname not known) - the temporary replacement / even-more-temporary second-singer, to whom "Garlands" was dedicated. (Note "Carol"'s gypsy/Icelander-ish facial features which are not uncommon in Scotland. Note also Will's eerie resemblance to a young Gordon Brown, but that's by the by...)
    The next Cocteaus photo we know of is the one in the mid-'82 Sounds article - now that's definitely our Liz, looking sweet with her natural black hair btw. Next evidence after that - Whatever You Want (broadcast also in 1982): and the hairstyle's different (she's gone back to her self-dubbed "Wilma Flintstone" punk look). But nothing else about her appearance has changed since the Sounds article: those eyes (oh god, those eyes!!) are unmistakeable.

    1. No, what you are actually saying is that you won't bother to back up your claims with evidence. Listen, I am always eager to amend or refine my work here. But you have provided me with absolutely nothing of any substance whatsoever. And Elizabeth Fraser's hair is not naturally black.

  16. Matt Constantine replies:

    Re: Liz's hair, consult the 4AD and Buckley biographies, and then Google images.
    Here, and in the lyrics debate (see my other recent anonymous posts), you're showing that you don't research your Cocteau history as thoroughly as you think.

    1. LINKS PLEASE. Listen, I told you people that Liz and Jeff Buckley were lovers 20 years ago and got nothing but abuse for it. Even after the Jeff Buckley documentary aired you all denied it. Violently. I present evidence. You present opinion. That is how it has always worked and that seems to be how it always will.

  17. That was a very interesting read. I actually arrived here to ask you where you found the top photo of Chris Cornell in the pool. I can't find it online anywhere but on your blog.

  18. I've just finished reading part 1-4 of your series and have to admit that my mind has been officially blown! This story is just so compelling. Back in 96/97 I was an 18 year old student in Ireland listening to Jeff Buckley (like almost every other college campus kid at that time), when he died in the summer of 1997 he jumped to mythical status, he was played in every indie college bar, at every student party. I don't think I knew anyone who didn't own a copy of Grace. Anyway, I think I must have heard a bit too much of JB because after about 2000 I just couldn't listen to him anymore. Until a few weeks ago that is, I just got an urge to play his songs again, and as I was going through his videos on YouTube I came across his duet with Elizabeth Fraser. Unbelieveable! I never knew it existed! I loved her from Teardrop with Massive Attack, but was not as familiar with the Cocteau Twins. Back in the 90s college days it was cool to like bands from the 80s, the Cure, the Smith's, etc. I remember hearing the Cocteau Twins at the time and not really being into them. All this information about their music and lyrics is really fascinating! Anyway, the duet, All Flowers in Time is lovely, I can't get enough of it, and after a few more online searches trying to find out all about it I landed here at your blog. What a tale, an ancient spiritual drama playing out through the lives of these individuals! It's eerie, but also fascinating. With my new renewed interest in JB I started looking for books about him and came across 'Touched by Grace' by Gary Lucas. I haven't read it yet, but when trying to find information on Gary Lucas I found a YouTube video of him jamming with Ada Pasternak. I wonder did they talk about Rainier Maria Rilke? Because according to Wikipedia, JBs obsession (Rilke) and Ada's great grandfather were friends:
    'In 1898, Rilke undertook a journey lasting several weeks to Italy. In 1899, he travelled with Lou and her husband, Friedrich Andreas, to Moscow where he met the novelist Leo Tolstoy. Between May and August 1900, a second journey to Russia, accompanied only by Lou, again took him to Moscow and Saint Petersburg, where he met the family of Boris Pasternak and Spiridon Drozhzhin, a peasant poet. Author Anna A. Tavis cites the cultures of Bohemia and Russia as the key influences on Rilke's poetry and consciousness.[14]'
    Maybe not such a significant connection, they all move in the same circles, but interesting nonetheless consider JBs infatuation with Rilke, and the Rilkean Dream omen from EF.
    Anyway, keep up the good work! If you ever write a book about this I'd buy it. Also, do you have a newsletter I could sign up to?

  19. An observation from the Rilkean Dreams video, EF holds the Gebo rune (x) to the sky, in witchcraft the Gebo rune is associated with gift giving. From
    "A gift will be given, or possibly a marriage proposal or an opportunity to put forward such a proposal is on its way. A generous, bountiful person who wishes to enrich one's life, romantically or materially. A divine gift, the gift of life or of balance. It is important that all parties remain equitable when the gift is given, or that balance which is so important to relationships may be endangered."
    Essentially she is offering this gift of love/herself, now I'm no expert in witchcraft, but I assume that the rejection of such a gift may lead to negative consequences for the intended receiver. Interestingly the video is subtitled 'half gifts', indicating the one sided gift-giving on EFs part perhaps? So what could this rejection provoke - a curse of some sort?
    Yes exactly, and JB sang of it in Witches Rave, written probably somewhere between mid '96 and early '97:
    "It sounds like a scream,
    I don't know what you mean.
    Your witchcraft's all around me in your ragged pagan scene.
    You tell me all the ways around my garden that you like.
    I float just like a bubble heading for a spike.
    All is well between the breasts of passenger and slave.
    We'll never make it out to join the witch's rave.
    You'd like to see him suffer for your fantasy and thrill.
    He fell sick while we made love,
    He's out there, somewhere still.
    Oh, I feel the spell that you have cast,
    Hot, pink, nasty bubble gum,
    Coming down just like a big red coal.
    Oooooooo. Oooooooo.
    I can't help from looking outside for a guarantee
    I can't help from looking outside for a guarantee."

    1. Oh, that's brilliant, Susan. I'll be combing through rilkean dreams again for more clues. Incidentally, the song is called half gifts. I was getting to witches rave and nightmares by the sea. They were the first two songs Buckley performed at his last gig. My theory is that they were written after the incident at Gold Coast and when Buckley put it together with rilkean dreams and flock of soul etc.