Larry Beckett (born 4 April 1947, Glendale, California) is a poet and songwriter, best known for his collaborations with Tim Buckley in the late-1960s. In the 21st century, he is emerging as a poet and literary critic.
Beckett was born in Glendale, California where his father was an English and speech teacher and his mother worked in the career counseling industry. The Becketts moved around for the first decade of Larry Beckett's life, first to Ashland, Oregon, then back down south to Downey, California and eventually settling in nearby Anaheim when Larry was 10 years old. Larry Beckett attended Loara High School where he developed a passion for writing and poetry. While attending high school Larry Beckett befriended classmates Tim Buckley and Jim Fielder, a relationship that would launch Beckett into music songwriting. The adolescent friends would frequent Hollywood where they were introduced to the area's art and music scene.
Buckley and Beckett started writing together in the mid-1960s, when both were members of Southern California group The Bohemians, in which Beckett played drums and Jim Fielder (later of Blood, Sweat & Tears) played bass. They recorded a demo for Elektra Records, but the company was only interested in Buckley as a solo artist, not the group.
Beckett contributed to Buckley's first two albums, Tim Buckley and Goodbye and Hello, both as co-songwriter and as a collaborator on arrangements. The songs which Beckett co-wrote, such as "Morning Glory" and "Song to the Siren", were characterised by the literary tone of his lyrics. The title track of "Goodbye and Hello" was originally constructed by Beckett as a piece in which two voices would sing different words and melodies.
Beckett and Buckley resumed their songwriting partnership for Starsailor in 1970, and Beckett was sporadically involved in Buckley's later work until Buckley's death in 1975. He has remained a poet and songwriter while working as a computer programmer and analyst, based in Portland, Oregon. He reads two of his 1966 poems, “Found at the Scene of a Rendezvous that Failed” and “Birth Day”, on the Rhino Handmade reissue of Tim Buckley, to which he contributed liner notes. He recites “Song to the Siren” and an essay on its composition on the MVDvisual DVD Tim Buckley: My Fleeting House.
Beckett’s lyrics and poems were published in Songs and Sonnets, 2002, by Rainy Day Women Press. Beat Poetry, 2012, from Beatdom Books, included Beat Generation poems with his commentaries.
Beckett’s translations include The Way of Rain, a reconstruction of the lost order of the Tao Te Ching; Poems After Li Po,; Poems After Li Shang-yin; The Wisewoman’s Song, from the Poetic Edda; The Logos, by Heraclitus; East-West Divan, by Johann Goethe; Heroic Sonnets, by José-Maria de Heredia.
For 44 years, Beckett has been at work on American Cycle, a series of long poems: U. S. Rivers: Highway 1, Old California, Paul Bunyan, Chief Joseph, Wyatt Earp, P. T. Barnum, Amelia Earhart, Blue Ridge, U. S. Rivers: Route 66.