There’s not very much I can say that would express the true exuberance that came about in my life when I discovered Jeff Buckley. It was more than just his voice, which was a creation unlike anything I’d ever experienced at that point. It was more than just his guitar prowess, which stands the test of time as one of the most mind blowing. It wasn’t even his lyricism, which is laced with such poetry that I almost couldn’t believe there actually existed a human on this earth capable of such intrinsic beauty. No. What made me fall in love with him, and continues to send me into to throes of lovesick reverie, was the manner with which he carried the music. He breathed it, inhaled it into his body and exhaled in a sigh as powerful as a tribal yell on a mountain peak.
His third single from his only full-length release Grace is just as poetic and full of vocal elation. Its construction is simple, making way for the heartache and horror that ran through his lyrics. The video is typical 90s fare, if anything from the 90s could be described as “typical”.
It was riddled with symbolism (the monkeys who attack him and steal his one mode of transportation, only to be seen running through the streets on all fours and signing to each other… perhaps a symbol of the isolation of man, his legs literally being the only thing taking him away from the silence pushing through his existence. Even his disrobing at the end of the song holds the image of his escaping the confines that saw him lose sight of what brought him to where he is). It was also shot with an 8mm-esque feel that brought me closer to the man himself.
The director knew exactly how to capture Buckley’s energy, sparing us the exorbitant brightness of psychedelic colours and giving us an experience that is as emotional as the lyrics themselves.
Even with his never-ending kinetic energy, his desire to explode in every moment, Michael Jackson also knew the value and beauty in subtlety. Probably one of his most poignant songs came from his most personal album and definitely proved that he was a man with an eye and a heart for the truly stunning.
“Stranger in Moscow” is a study in stillness. It’s neither a song nor a video that purports to be anything more than a quiet work of art. It isn’t grand or over the top, its sole “special effect”, such as it is, is the slow motion enlisted to expand the movement of everything around him. However, it’s that simple technique — something that’s not exactly groundbreaking in music video — that gives the song even more depth than Michael was able to muster with his own lyrics.
Frame by frame, this video is a piece of photographic genius, each moment, each heartbeat, each inhalation of breath extended to give our protagonist an elongated sense of isolation. It’s a video that takes pleasure in the simplicity of a raindrop, exposing the emotion in the sky itself. The textures in the video help to further give meaning to the loneliness of a wandering soul, the dryness of withered flesh encasing a still-beating yet very weary heart. When the rain drops down, adding moisture and nourishment to the thirsty body, the heart can learn to mend, to accept beauty even in greyscapes, and smile even when it hurts to do so.
Nick Brandt took the heartache that Michael poured into this song and painted a sleepy LA city with that throbbing pain. This is truly one of Michael’s most gorgeous pieces of work.
In the early days of Jamiroquai, there was an inexplicable consciousness that took them from simply a band with a mellow groove to a band that understood the intricacies and fallacies of human nature. Their sophomore effort Return of the Space Cowboy marked another push to create a sound as funky as it was sublime and intelligent.
Though never released as a single, one of their most incredible songs was an ode of sorts to the indigenous people who were constantly disenfranchised and sold off to “satisfy the souls of chosen men.” It’s a song that tells a story as much as it begs for forgiveness.
The lyrical content is insightful, intellectual, and heartbreaking – as much as something meant to be purely cerebral can be emotional. Jay Kay’s composition is what elevates the words to something more than just a history lesson, but more on that later.