Sketches for My Sweetheart the Drunk is a compilation album by Jeff Buckley, released in May 1998 a year after his death. The album consists of polished studio tracks and 4-track home demos for his planned sophomore studio album My Sweetheart, the Drunk.
For the album, Buckley first recorded several songs in Manhattan with Television guitarist Tom Verlaine as producer in 1996 and early 1997, but he and his band were dissatisfied with the results, and some tension plagued these sessions due to the band's changing lineup (Grace drummer Matt Johnson bolted after the first recordings, and was replaced with Parker Kindred).
Buckley and the band took another hack at recording the songs with Verlaine in Memphis in February, but he was dissatisfied with the results again and fired Verlaine, asking Grace producer Andy Wallace to return as a replacement. He continued to record several 4-track demos in preparation for the session with Wallace, and sent his band back to New York while he stayed behind to work, mailing them the results (much to their excitement). The band was scheduled to return to Memphis for rehearsals and recording on 29 May 1997, but on that evening Buckley accidentally drowned in the Wolf River.
The album was ultimately released posthumously as a double album, with the first CD containing all the previously-recorded, Verlaine-produced material Buckley had rejected, and the second CD containing Buckley's unfinished home demos. The album is generally considered good, but really jarring, as the potential the album could have had brings sadness to many listeners. What also didn't help was that Verlaine was really pushing for hits to be written, as Grace suffered slight sales disappointment in the eyes of Sony. Imagine the producer's insistence on hits combined with Buckley's above-mentioned perfectionism. That's what amounted to this album being recorded. This is where Buckley's famous quote "I write music for people who are crying on the highway to a blasting stereo" came from.
The album is best remembered for the song "Everybody Here Wants You", which was a minor hit in many countries.
- "The Sky Is a Landfill" (5:09)
- "Everybody Here Wants You" (4:46)
- "Opened Once" (3:29)
- "Nightmares by the Sea" (3:53)
- "Yard of Blonde Girls"note (4:07)
- "Witches' Rave" (4:40)
- "New Year's Prayer" (4:40)
- "Morning Theft" (3:39)
- "Vancouver" (3:12)
- "You & I" (5:39)
- "Nightmares by the Sea" [Original Mix] (3:49)
- "New Year's Prayer" [Original Mix] (4:10)
- "Haven't You Heard" (4:07)
- "I Know We Could Be So Happy Baby (If We Wanted to Be)" (4:27)
- "Murder Suicide Meteor Slave" (5:55)
- "Back in N.Y.C."note (7:37)
- "Gunshot Glitter" (5:36)note
- "Demon John" (5:13)
- "Your Flesh Is So Nice" (3:37)
- "Jewel Box" (3:37)
- "A Satisfied Mind"note (6:00)
- "Thousand Fold" (3:26) note
Tropes for My Sweetheart the Drunk
- Alliterative Title: "Sketches for My Sweetheart the Drunk", "Murder Suicide Meteor Slave", "Opened Once", and Gunshot Glitter.
- Cover Version:
- Darker and Edgier: It was supposed to be this compared to Grace. However, this only shines through in a couple of songs, namely "Murder Suicide Meteor Slave" and ''Demon John". Overall though, the album still has a heavier sound to it.
- Distinct Double Album: 10 tracks each, which was a compromise - the label wanted to release the first disc initially but Buckley's mother and his former bandmates wanted an additional disc to showcase some of the recordings he had only recorded home demos of (some of which were newer and thus potentially more reflective of his intended album).
- Face on the Cover: A reflected close-up of Jeff's face.
- Last Note Nightmare: "I Know We Could Be So Happy Baby (If We Wanted to Be)" has an incredibly dissonant power chord at the end of the chorus. The song's ambiguous subject matter makes it that much worse.
- Long Title: "I Know We Could Be So Happy Baby (If We Wanted to Be)".
- And the album's title: "Sketches for My Sweetheart the Drunk".
- Intercourse with You: "Your Flesh Is So Nice" is about two lesbians having sex, with Jeff somehow being one of them.
- Music Is Politics: "The Sky Is a Landfill" was based on journalist Al Giordano's essay "The Medium Is the Middleman", which Buckley, a friend of Giordano's, adapted. It addresses the fact that the media turned the airwaves into "a garbage dump."
- New Sound Album: The album left the Lighter and Softer quality of Grace and presented a heavier rock sound.
- One-Man Song: "Demon John".
- One-Word Title: "Vancouver".
- Questioning Title?: "Haven't You Heard?"
- Repurposed Pop Song: At his funeral, his mother played a recording of Jeff singing "Satisfied Mind", a song about departing from the earth with a happy conscience. That recording was later used as the last song on this album.
- Silly Love Songs: "Thousand Fold" was one for his girlfriend at the time, Joan Wasser.
- Studio Chatter: Heard frequently throughout the album.
- Surprisingly Gentle Song: Picture this: You're listening through the album, which is full of Nightmare Fuel. Finally, you get to the penultimate song on the album, "Jewel Box", which is one of the prettiest love songs Jeff ever wrote. It's jarring, to say the least.