Larry Beckett (born 4 April 1947) is an American poet, songwriter, and literary critic. As a songwriter and music arranger, Beckett collaborated with Tim Buckley in the late-1960s on several songs and albums, including "Song to the Siren" which has been recorded by many artists.
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.
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. The presence of Larry Beckett in the UK was covered in the alternative music press, including an extensive feature in Record Collector Magazine  which covered Larry's relationship with Tim Buckley and his work with The Long Lost Band. The cross over with the Buckley legacy continues as Larry contributed the poetry to Tim Buckley's unfinished, final song; the lyrics were finally realised into two finished versions of 'On The Hook'. The words were originally written at Tim Buckley's request, in 1975, when he asked Larry to write about the experience of taking Heroin. The song came into fruition in 2015 with newly written music by The Long Lost Band. Two versions were completed, one being more 'electric' orientated and the other being routed in acoustic instrumentation and truer to Larry's original intent.
Beckett continued his working relationship with Stuart Anthony of The Long Lost Band, in 2018 releasing a full-length album ‘Love and Trial’. This concept album borrows from traditional Greek music, blending this with contemporary song writing techniques. Greek mythology and classical poetry run as ubiquitous themes throughout the album. Beckett has continued his work as translator, reimagining Classical Greek work into contemporary arrangements. Included in this are interpretations of ‘Hymn to Zeus’ by the legendary Greek poet and musician Orpheus. The track ‘Spirit of Water’ borrows directly from Heraclitus and ‘Oblivion’ by the French/Cuban poet Jose-Maria Heredia. Alongside Beckett, Stuart Anthony provides musicianship on traditional Greek instruments such as the Baglamas and Tambouras. The 12 string guitar also features heavily throughout the album, somewhat symbolically echoing back to Tim Buckley's playing. The album could be seen partly as a tribute to the relationship between Beckett and Buckley as musically and thematically it calls back to Song to the Siren, providing an homage in retrospect whilst simultaneously carving a new direction for both Beckett and Anthony's musical career.
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".
- Alexandra Yurkovsky,Songs and Sonnets review, SF Gate, 2002
- Brolly, Jack, Larry Beckett - Poet and Friend Til the End, archived from the original on 2008-04-14, retrieved 2008-06-10
- Larry Beckett profile at LinkedIn.com. Retrieved 7 February 2013
- "Unique concert sees US poet collaborate with city band", Yorkshire Evening Post, 17 May 2015. Retrieved 11 August 2015
- "WALKING ON THE CLOUDS - Record Collector Magazine". recordcollectormag.com. Retrieved 2016-09-01.
- TheLongLostBand (2015-03-01), Larry Beckett Reads Last Lyric Written For Tim Buckley 'On The Hook', retrieved 2016-09-01
- "Stuart Anthony (3), Larry Beckett - Love & Trial". Discogs. Retrieved 2018-12-04.
- Cowley, Peter (2018). "Reviews - Love and Trial". FATEA Record.
- Author Page "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2015-04-16. Retrieved 2013-06-30.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link), Beatdom Books