From the Morning, Nick Drake
The first time I heard Nick Drake was on the Garden State soundtrack, Any One of These Things First. It wasn’t a very good introduction. The song, although relatively good, didn’t stick with me. I heard it on and off again, never really paying attention to it.
At my friend Tom’s coaxing, I got Drake’s Pink Moon album and it blew me away. Pink Moon is one of the most solid albums I’ve heard of late. The entire thing was recorded over two nights with just Drake, his guitar and a sound editor. The album is spare and unadorned, just the quiet melancholy strumming of Drake’s guitar accompanied by his soulful sad vocals. Shortly after completing this album, Drake was found dead from an overdose of pills. Its not clear whether it was suicide or an accidental overdose. Underappreciated for all of his life, Drake found fame posthumously. It might’ve been just as well since Drake was known for being painfully shy. He rarely played concerts, and even when he did, he only played to support others. In the studio, he would face the wall while playing and singing to avoid the sound editor and the others playing instruments.
Nick Drake originally played with members of the Fairport Convention but Pink Moon is only him. It was his final naked attempt to get whatever he had out there. I’ve been listening to the album in its entirety, playing it over and over again, and yet, I don’t get tired of it. In Drake’s moody voice, I find some sort of comfort. But his music doesn’t bring me happiness, it doesn’t elevate my mood. It gives me the kind of solace that I find in sadness or in loneliness. His music feels familiar, as if coming from a place I’ve been before, a state that I’m only too familiar with.
My favourite song off the album is Place to Be. Its so hauntingly beautiful that I want to hold it on repeat forever, like a record player stuck on a groove. But then I’d miss out on the entire album. Place to Be is only one of the gems, the album comes together as a whole, each song complementing the last. Its like one long lucid dream. That’s not really true though. I wish it were long but its one of the shortest albums, most of the songs are only about 2 and a half minutes, the longest song is 3 minutes 57 seconds long.
In many ways, Pink Moon is so much better unadorned. Compared to this, his previous albums feel overdone and encumbered. Drake doesn’t need accompanying drums, organs, guitars or anything else. He is most comfortable by himself. His guitar is his only companion. The only other instrument on Pink Moon is a piano on the title track, and even that was added later.
If you haven’t listened to Nick Drake, please do. If you like beautiful acoustic music, Nick Drake is unmissable. I only wish he had lived long enough to make more music. Get it here: Pink Moon.
And I was green, greener than the hill
Where the flowers grew and the sun shone still
Now I’m darker than the deepest sea
Just hand me down, give me a place to be.