Famed singer/guitarist Jeff Buckley would have turned 53 years old today, though his life was tragically cut short in its peak. Buckley spent years working in Los Angeles as a session musician, but it wasn’t until he hit clubs in Manhattan’s East Village that he started to garner a following. After many years of refusing a record deal, Buckley finally agreed to a contract and recorded Grace in 1994, his lone album release.

Buckley’s accidental drowning death in 1997 served as the tragic bookend to a beautiful career. Buckley’s music was eternally uplifting, backed by acclaimed guitar work and an angelic voice. There was an unmistakable passion in his musicianship, an indescribable quality that cannot be forced. His genuine music still resonates with listeners to this day, more than 20 years after his death.

Among the many great songs on the Grace album, Buckley is perhaps best known for his cover of Leonard Cohen‘s masterpiece, “Hallelujah.” Though there are many selections that would symbolize Buckley’s musical essence, few are as timely with the recent passing of Cohen himself. We can only hope that the two are making new music for the folks in heaven today.

In honor of Buckley’s birthday today, let’s celebrate with this beautiful live rendition of “Hallelujah” from Chicago in 1995.

[Originally published 11/17/16]