Song to the Siren (Tim Buckley song)

Song to the Siren (Tim Buckley song)

Song infobox
Name = Song to the Siren

Artist = Tim Buckley
Album = Starsailor
Released = February 1970
track_no = 5
Recorded = 1969
Genre = Folk, Psychedelia
Length = 4:36
Writer = Larry Beckett, Tim Buckley
Composer = Tim Buckley
Label = Straight
Producer = Tim Buckley
Executive producer:
Herb Cohen
Tracks =
#"Come Here Woman"
#"I Woke Up"
#"Moulin Rouge"
#"Song to the Siren"
#"Jungle Fire"
#"Star Sailor"
#"The Healing Festival"
#"Down by the Borderline"

"Song to the Siren" is a song written by Tim Buckley and his writing partner Larry Beckett and was first released on Buckley's 1970 album "Starsailor". It was also later released on "", the album featuring a performance of the song taken from the final episode of The Monkees TV show which aired on March 25, 1968.Sound sample box align left|Music sample:

The song was written in 1967 but Buckley was dissatisfied with the early attempts at recording the song. It would finally appear on "Starsailor" three years later. cite web |title="'Song to the Siren' Tim Buckley (1967)" by Robert Webb, "The Independent" (London), Apr 13, 2007 |url= |accessdate=2008-05-23 ] The Monkees TV show version featured the song in its original folk song style, with Buckley playing solo with a 12 string guitar. This stands in contrast to the lusher, reverb filled version present on the "Starsailor" album. The Monkees TV show appearance features the song in the key of E while the later album version would be in Bb. The album version also features heavy reverb on the electric guitar and high pitched background vocals, whilst the live version is is more lo-fi, with no effects and Buckley's voice accompanied only by his guitar. The 1968 performance also features different lyrics with the phrase "I'm as puzzled as the oyster" later being changed to "I'm as puzzled as the new born child" in the album version. This was reportedly because when Buckley played the song to Judy Henske, wife of then producer Jerry Yester, she responded to the line with laughter. [ ,David Browne] [ cite web |title= Tim Buckley interview "The High Flyer"|url= |accessdate=2008-05-03 ]

Despite this, Buckley and Beckett regarded this song as their greatest collaboration effort, with Beckett later stating "It's a perfect match of melody and lyrics. There was some kind of uncanny connection between us."

The songs reference to the siren tempting sailors at sea stems from greek mythology, notably used in Homer's epic "Odyssey". The siren is a mythical half-woman-half-bird creature which uses its beautiful voice to distract seamen and their ships. This lyrical style is an example of Larry Beckett's literary inspirations, and stands in direct contrast to Buckley's own writing style.

Cover Versions

The song has become perhaps Buckley's most famous song due to a number of artists covering the song after his death in 1975. It has featured as a cover on studio albums by Robert Plant on 2002 release "Dreamland", by Geoff Smith on 1997 album Black Flowers, and by This Mortal Coil on 1984 album "It'll End in Tears", where it was also released as a single. The single had moderate success, spending 13 weeks in the UK charts and peaking at #66 on October 23, 1983. [ cite web |title=This Mortal Coil single: Chart performance |url= |accessdate=2008-05-10 ] This Mortal Coil was a collective name for artists on the 4AD Records label and Elizabeth Fraser and Robin Guthrie of the Cocteau Twins performed the song.

The song has also been performed live by the two previous acts and also notably by George Michael [ cite web |title=George Michael Live at Wembley review "The Guardian" |url=,,2100008,00.html |accessdate=2008-05-03 ] and David Gray [ cite web |title= David Gray official discography|url= |accessdate=2008-05-03 ] amongst others. In 2002 an English trance act, Lost Witness, remixed the song as "Did I Dream (Song to the Siren)" and it peaked at #28 in the UK singles chart. [ cite web |title= Chart search engine
url= |accessdate=2008-05-03
] Pat Boone was the first to release a version of the song as it featured on his 1969 album "Departure", predating Buckley's "Starsailor" release. The track was however mistakenly labelled as "Song of the Siren" on the release.

The version by This Mortal Coil featured on David Lynch's 1997 film "Lost Highway" but did not appear on the film's soundtrack album. Lynch has stated that the Cocteau Twins version of the song inspired the first two albums by Julee Cruise. Also, he had previously intended to use the original version of song on "Blue Velvet" but was prevented from doing so due to budget limitations. The reasons for the song's expensive limitations are that it is unclear who owns not only the rights to the song, but also to its parent album "Starsailor", which has prevented a major re-release of the album.

Following the single of the song by This Mortal Coil, Buckley's work began being reappraised in the mid 1980's. cite web |title= The Rough Guide to Rock |url= |accessdate=2008-05-03 ] This revival of interest in the artist would be one of the greatest factors in the increase of his posthumous sales, falling second only to the publicity generated by the success of his son, Jeff Buckley.

In 2005 "", a tribute album of songs by both Tim Buckley and his son, Jeff Buckley, featured a version of "Song to the Siren" by Engineers. This cover was based upon This Mortal Coil's version of the song. The song was also covered by Mercury Prize nominee Susheela Raman on her album Salt Rain.

The version by This Mortal Coil was also sampled by finnish drumfunk producer Fanu. The song is called The Siren Song and was released on Subtitles.


External links

* [ Offical Tim Buckley site]
* [ List of Song to the Siren covers]

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