Betty Buckley: Intensity of Purpose

Photo : Victory Tischler-Blue
Interview with Tennessee Williams
Conducted by James Grissom
New Orleans

I often write to music, and I certainly need music prior to sitting down to the pale judgment. For many years Bach opened me up, helped me to speak to God, to meet my muse, to get the fog rolling. I like music that speaks to and hurts the heart: Ella [Fitzgerald] can do no wrong, and never gets in the way of a song. Ella purely and cleanly communicates, which is what I have always wanted to do.

I steal from singers all the time.

The ideal singer presents a song and with each note, with each phrase, it is as if a page were turning in a book, and the story unfolds. Upon going to bed at night--or trying to fall asleep--there are many games one can play, if the medications are not working: You can try to recall the winners of awards, moments of wonder, grudges healed, fantasies to which there is still an ember. I like to imagine particular songs sung by certain singers.

It can help a person get to sleep.

It can help a person to maneuver things creatively.

I was given a tape recently of Betty Buckley, a person who was known to me previously solely as an actress. She was terribly good, solid, in Carrie. I wanted to know more about her; I wanted to imagine her as one of my women. 

Her singing voice is a wonderful example of that intercourse that exists only with  a singer: When a singer is in possession of a great talent and an honest intensity of purpose, nothing can prevent the relationship between song and singer from taking place, with all of us voyeurs to the consummation.

She owns her material, but she doesn't grasp it so tightly that we can't also share in it, love it, feel to it. I find her a radiantly pure singer.

She helps me to the fog.

I feel she belongs to me now. 


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