This is not a happy story, my friends. In Rock n’ Roll, I guess that can be a cliché. But out of such pain and unhappiness can come such beauty… such raw and unadulterated honesty, amazing connection and everlasting beauty.
I am not sure where I first heard about Nick Drake, but it is only within the last ten years or so for sure. He was an extraordinary singer-songwriter who died at age 26. He never saw fame or success on a large-scale in his lifetime… Ironically, it came after his death.
I do not want fame posthumously. I mean, I suppose if that is the only way to get it , and it helps those I leave behind, fine. I would like to enjoy and eat the fruits of my labors while I am still alive. Sorry, I just would. I like fruits… many kinds… especially those of your labor!
I’ll be honest, I much prefer Bryter Later… That is one of my all-time favorite albums… but I decided today to roll the dice and randomly pick an album on Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time, and this was the one that hit. #320.
His first record, Five Leaves Left, remarkably recorded when he was just 20 is also a must hear, phenomenal album!
Nick Drake – Pink Moon
Wikipedia says “today he is widely considered among the most influential English singer-songwriters of the last 50 years” and that “Drake’s reluctance to perform live, or be interviewed, contributed to his lack of commercial success.”
His life was a mystery, only opening its book to the world after his death… “There is no known footage of the adult Drake; he was only ever captured in still photographs and in home footage from his childhood. On 25 November 1974, Drake died from an overdose of amitriptyline, a prescribed antidepressant; he was 26 years old.”
What he leaves us is his music… Listen too carefully to the lyrics and you will literally feel his pain, his sadness… but if you float through the music, which is easy to do, you will be stunned and elevated, gliding past all the hurt.
Rolling Stone says this of Pink Moon: “Drake recorded his last album in a couple of nights, mailed the tapes to Island Records and checked himself into a psychiatric ward. If the music were as dark as the lyrics, it might be unlistenable. But Drake’s soothing vocals and unadorned acoustic picking make this album unfold with supernatural tenderness.”
Two days in October was all it would take to record this, his final album. Just over three years later, he would be gone.
While this is specifically about this record, allow it to be an introduction to Nick Drake… or a re-introduction… a nice getting-to-know-you as you go and listen to his catalog. The music is so solid on its own and even more powerful when you realize the far-reaching influence it would have on folks like Kate Bush, Paul Weller, Peter Buck, Robert Smith of The Cure and The Black Crowes. The band The Dream Academy wrote and dedicated the great song “Life in a Northern Town” to Drake.
So go and listen, my friends… just listen!