Saturday, October 24, 2009

The Magic of Nick Drake

By Robert Kirby

"I never felt magic crazy as this." - Northern Sky, Nick Drake (1970)

There aren't many artists in the world who can successfully create perfect art with every attempt. And there are even fewer who's art becomes new again each and every time you hear or see it. Nick Drake was one of those artists. Not only has his music transcended over forty years of change, but with each of those years it becomes more and more prevalent.

Five Leaves Left (1969): With his first album in 1969, Five Leaves Left, Drake creates an atmosphere of sadness and hope, combining his deep vocals with an acoustic guitar and string accompaniment. It was ranked number 283 on Rolling Stones' 250 greatest albums of all time. Songs such as "Cello Song" show his mature grasp of sensitivity at such a young age (he was only 20 at the time of it's release).

Bryter Layter (1970): Nick's second album, Bryter Layter, recorded in 1970, is said by many to be not only his greatest work, but his most accessible album as a majority of the songs are heavily accompanied by bass and drums. It was ranked number 245 on Rolling Stones' 250 greatest albums of all time. Songs like "Northern Sky" have a more mainstream sound to them compared with those on Five Leaves Left and could be attributed to his leaving Cambridge and moving to London after recording his first album.

Pink Moon (1971): Drake's third and final album, Pink Moon, is his greatest departure from his previous two albums. It was recorded in two 2-hour night-time sessions in 1971. It was ranked number 320 on Rolling Stones' 250 greatest albums of all time. All of the tracks are solo, just Nick and his guitar, except for one, the title track "Pink Moon," to where Nick lends a piano riff.

His Death: On the night of November 24th, 1974, Nick died of an overdose of a prescribed antidepressant. When asked to speculate on whether or not he did it purposely, his sister Gabrielle said she would prefer that he committed suicide, "in the sense that I'd rather he died because he wanted to end it than it to be the result of some tragic mistake. That would seem to me to be terrible..."

Popularity: In early 1999, BBC2 aired a 40-minute documentary called A Stranger Among Us - In Search of Nick Drake. The next year, a live documentary was made entitled A Skin Too Few: The Days of Nick Drake. In, 2000, "Pink Moon" was used in a car commercial for Volkswagen, and within 30 days, Nick Drake had sold more records than he had in the previous 30 years.

Robert Kirby has been writing articles about musicians like Nick Drake for years. He currently writes for online entertainment site Altered Eagle.

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