December 16th, 2003


Ode to Nick

Lately I've been going through phases where I'll listen to the same album over and over again. I believe this all started with Pink Moon by Nick Drake.

Nick Drake was an English musician who was an outstanding guitar player and composer, but was also painfully shy and depressed. He almost never toured or gave interviews, and thus had trouble promoting his albums. He died in 1974 of an overdose of antidepressants at the painfully young age of 26.

Fast forward to the summer of 2000. A Volkswagen commercial came on the TV, and for the umpteenth time I thought to myself, what is that gorgeous song? I finally did a quick Usenet search and had my answer: it was the title track from Pink Moon. I listened to parts of a couple of other tracks from that album on Amazon, and then ordered it.

The first time I listened to that album, I was hooked. I listened to it five times in a row. I listened to it every day for months. I found out that I was not alone; since that commercial came out, many rediscovered Nick's genius, and his cult following grew. It's a shame that he could not gain the audience he sought during his short lifetime.

It's hard to explain what I like about Pink Moon so much. It's less than 25 minutes long. The songs are all acoustic guitar and voice, with the exception of the title track which has a few piano notes thrown in. It's very raw, and beautiful.

I bought the Fruit Tree box set, which contains Nick's three released albums plus one of outtakes and alternate versions of released songs. I was initially disappointed that Nick's other albums were so different; lots of other instruments, backing vocals, etc. But they grew on me, especially Bryter Layter, which I've been listening to more than Pink Moon lately.

Today I'm listening to Time of No Reply, the collection of outtakes. I have a playlist set up in iTunes containing all of Nick's music. Today I noticed that the total time added up to 2 1/2 hours. Two and a half hours, his total available output of music. Such a small but poignant legacy to an amazing musician.
  • Current Music
    Nick Drake, "Time of No Reply"