Larry Beckett

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Larry Beckett
Beckett in 2012
Born (1947-04-04) April 4, 1947 (age 76)
Occupation(s)Poet, songwriter, literary critic

Larry Beckett (born April 4, 1947) is an American poet, songwriter, musician, and literary critic. As a songwriter and music arranger, Beckett collaborated with Tim Buckley in the late 1960s and early 1970s on several songs and albums, including the critically acclaimed "Song to the Siren" which has been recorded by many artists, from This Mortal Coil to Robert Plant.[1][2] He has also collaborated with British group The Long Lost Band, and local Portland indie band Eyelids.

Beckett has had several books of poetry published including Songs and Sonnets, Beat Poetry, and a few book-length poems entitled Paul Bunyan, Wyatt Earp, and Amelia Earhart. American Cycle, a 47-year project, will be published in April 2021 by Running Wild Press.

Early life[edit]

Beckett was born in Glendale, California where his father was an English and speech teacher and his mother worked in the career counseling industry.[3] 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.[3][4] Larry Beckett attended Loara High School where he developed a passion for writing and poetry. A high school English teacher helped change his mind from thinking he wanted to be a mathematical physicist, to realizing he was a writer.[3] Also while in high school Larry Beckett befriended classmates Tim Buckley and Jim Fielder, a relationship that would launch Beckett into music songwriting.


Beckett read two of his 1966 poems, Found at the Scene of a Rendezvous that Failed, and Birth Day, on the Rhino Handmade reissue of the album Tim Buckley,[5] to which he contributed liner notes, including the lyric “1, 2, 3.”[6] He recited Song to the Siren and an essay on its composition on the MVDvisual DVD Tim Buckley: My Fleeting House.[7]

Beckett's lyrics and poems were published in Songs and Sonnets, 2002, by Rainy Day Women Press.

Beat Poetry, with twelve central San Francisco renaissance poems and Beckett’s essays on them reconsidered as literature, was published in 2012.[8] The Jack Kerouac chapter was reprinted in the 2019 anthology Kerouac on Record: A Literary Soundtrack, edited by Simon Warner and Jim Sampas.[9]

For 47 years, Beckett worked on American Cycle, a series of long poems: U. S. Rivers: Highway 1, Old California, Paul Bunyan, John Henry (folklore), Chief Joseph, Wyatt Earp, P. T. Barnum, Amelia Earhart, Blue Ridge, U. S. Rivers: Route 66. The Cycle's themes are love, local mythology, history, justice, memory, accomplishment, time. Paul Bunyan,[10] Wyatt Earp, and Amelia Earhart were published as individual volumes, Paul Bunyan with a recording of a performance. American Cycle is to be published in 2021.[10]


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.[11]


With Tim Buckley[edit]

Beckett, Buckley, and Fielder frequented Hollywood together where they were introduced to the area's art and music scene.[3] Buckley and Beckett started writing together in the mid-1960s as members of Southern California rock band The Bohemians, with Buckley on rhythm guitar, Brian Hartzel on lead guitar, Beckett on drums, and Jim Fielder (later of Blood, Sweat & Tears) on bass. They recorded a demo for Elektra Records, I Can't See You, but the company was only interested in Buckley as a solo artist, not the group.[12]

Beckett contributed to Buckley's first two albums, Tim Buckley and Goodbye and Hello, both as co-songwriter and as a collaborator on arrangements.[13] The lyrics Beckett wrote, such as "No Man Can Find the War", "Morning Glory" and "Song to the Siren", were characterized by their literary tone.[14] 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.[15]

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.

Other collaborations[edit]

In 2014, Beckett began working with a group of musicians from Lancaster, England, The Long Lost Band. He toured with them in the UK in 2015, and contributed poetry and song lyrics to a full-length studio album, One More Mile.[16] The presence of Larry Beckett in the UK was covered in an extensive feature in Record Collector magazine [17] which also covered his relationship with Buckley. Beckett continued his working relationship with Stuart Anthony of The Long Lost Band in 2018, releasing a full-length album Love & Trial.[18]

An admirer of the 5-piece Portland indie band Eyelids, powered by singer-songwriters Chris Slusarenko, from Guided by Voices, and John Moen, of The Decemberists, Beckett began a collaboration with the band by opening his book of songs to them.[19] Beckett also wrote new lyrics. The resulting album, The Accidental Falls, produced by Peter Buck, from R.E.M., made several Best of 2020 lists. The album includes the lost 1966 Beckett/Buckley song "Found at the Scene of a Rendezvous That Failed" with Beckett on piano and Buck on bass.[20]

Personal life[edit]

Beckett has remained a poet and songwriter while working as a computer programmer and analyst, based in Portland, Oregon.[21] He is married to photographer Laura Fletcher and they have two children - Susannah Beckett (born 1990) and Liam Beckett (born 1999).[3]


  1. ^ Alexandra Yurkovsky,Songs and Sonnets review, SF Gate, 2002
  2. ^ Cheal, David (2016-04-22). "The Life of a Song: 'Song to the Siren'". Retrieved 2021-01-27.
  3. ^ a b c d e Brolly, Jack, Larry Beckett - Poet and Friend Til the End, archived from the original on 2008-04-14, retrieved 2008-06-10
  4. ^ "LarryBeckett". 2008-04-14. Archived from the original on 2008-04-14. Retrieved 2021-01-27.
  5. ^ Spellman, Robert (March 20, 2011). "Album review: Tim Buckley: Tim Buckley Deluxe Edition (Rhino)". Express. Retrieved January 29, 2021.
  6. ^ Unterberger, Richie (February 14, 2011). "The Making of Tim Buckley". Record Collector. Retrieved February 1, 2021.
  7. ^ Goldstein, Aaron (2007). "Tim Buckley Is Still Ahead of His Time". Tim Buckley. Retrieved January 29, 2021.
  8. ^ Wills, David S. (November 3, 2012). "Announcing The Release of Beat Poetry by Larry Beckett". Beatdom. Retrieved January 9, 2021.
  9. ^ Stephens, Christopher John (May 10, 2018). "The Beat Goes on with 'Kerouac on Record'". Pop Matters. Retrieved January 9, 2021.
  10. ^ a b Wilner, Paul (January 5, 2016). "Legendary Frontier Days Told for These Times: 'Paul Bunyan' by Larry Beckett". Zyzzyva. Retrieved January 9, 2021.
  11. ^ Author Page "Larry Beckett | Beatdom Books". Archived from the original on 2015-04-16. Retrieved 2013-06-30., Beatdom Books
  12. ^ Ben Edmonds (June 2000). "Dreamy, Driven and Dangerous". Mojo. Archived from the original on September 24, 2015. Retrieved November 3, 2014.
  13. ^ Greenwald, Matthew. "Goodbye and Hello AllMusic Review by Matthew Greenwald". ALLMUSIC. Retrieved January 9, 2021.
  14. ^ Unterberger, Richie (1967). "No Man Can Find the War Song Review by Richie Unterberger". ALLMUSIC. Retrieved January 9, 2021.
  15. ^ Isler, Scott. "Goodbye and Hello". Musician. Archived from the original on May 18, 2008. Retrieved June 20, 2008.
  16. ^ "Unique concert sees US poet collaborate with city band", Yorkshire Evening Post, 17 May 2015. Retrieved 11 August 2015
  17. ^ "WALKING ON THE CLOUDS - Record Collector Magazine". Retrieved 2016-09-01.
  18. ^ "Stuart Anthony (3), Larry Beckett - Love & Trial". Discogs. Retrieved 2018-12-04.
  19. ^ Graff, Gary (January 1, 2020). "Eyelids' 'Accidental Falls' Video is 'The Most Rocking Translation of Goethe's Work to Date'". billboard. Retrieved January 9, 2021.
  20. ^ Anthony, Christopher (February 27, 2020). "Eyelids: The Accidental Falls Album Review". The Fire Note. Retrieved January 9, 2021.
  21. ^ Larry Beckett profile at Retrieved 7 February 2013

External links[edit]