Jeff Buckley, Radiohead and Fake Plastic Trees

On 1 September 1994, Jeff Buckley played a set at The Garage, Finsbury Park (London) that has taken on almost mythical status. Here is a wonderfully evocative description of what happened that evening:

… it might be the most harrowing and disturbing performance he ever gave, and it certainly engendered the magnificently angry “road version” of Eternal Life. The final encore starts breezily enough, with a relaxed Jeff joking about a lost phone number and dedicating the song to a fan …and then to “someone else”. Nina Simone’s beseeching All That I Ask morphs into Big Star’s Kangaroo and then into Jeff’s own Chocolate improvisation, here stretched and extended into the kind of wired, spontaneous theatre which might have made Jim Morrison proud. It’s a descent into the underworld, a stream-of-consciousness assault on stores of memory and desire, a devastating self-flagellation.(“There you stare, your finger twisting your red hair, your accusations flying from you, oh you call me a liar, a cheater, you call me a whore..”) It’s sometimes violent, sometimes erotic, sometimes tender, sometimes terrifying, and so painfully intimate that it becomes overwhelming to witness. “Some day I’d like to become you and to know what it’s like to feel me inside…when I wake up in your hair, when I wake up in your arms, I swear upon my blood I understand you, I swear on my grave I understand you…” A Sony executive in the audience later sent him a memo asking him not to repeat the half-hour encore, claiming he was failing to “do justice to himself as an entertainer.” Jeff reacted by turning his song Eternal Life into a vicious piece of hardcore directed straight at the music business he so mistrusted …

Web Article, Clare O’Brien, ‘Flowers in Time’ website


Fortunately, bootlegs of the gig exist, they are right here …



and here …



If the gig wasn’t legendary enough as it is, the mystique that surrounds it has been enhanced by Thom Yorke’s presence in the audience. He was – apparently – blown away by Buckley’s singing, and the power of his performance.

Thom had been struggling for weeks to make a satisfactory recording of Fake Plastic Trees. The very next day, he went to the studio and – inspired by Buckley – simply nailed it.


3 Replies to “Jeff Buckley, Radiohead and Fake Plastic Trees”

  1. You’re pulling the thoughts from my mind lately, Serene (or perhaps I’m riding blissfully on the wavelengths of your wonderful Radiohead-inspired posts). I was *just* reading about “Fake Plastic Trees” and its connection to Jeff Buckley a few hours ago. As much as I love Thom, Jeff is my favorite male musician and to know that his performance inspired Thom’s vocals on “Fake Plastic Trees” is so unexpected, and so perfect.

    These posts you’re writing are so inspiring and uplifting to me, Serene. Thank you so much. ♥

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks! I agree totally about Buckley, he was really unique and astonishing. I can well imagine his singing being an inspiration to Thom. Pleased you are enjoying the posts – it won’t always be Radiohead, I have some festivals coming up! And I will go back to posts about SL when the mood takes me.

      Liked by 1 person

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