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 A Complete Assessment of Nick Drake

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Posts : 3
Join date : 2011-02-06

PostSubject: A Complete Assessment of Nick Drake   Sun Feb 06, 2011 11:38 am

This is my favorite album of his. His 1969 debut is so fully formed, so representative of the beauty that would become a staple of his songwriting. I’ve read somewhere that his songs are very virginal, in the sense that he never describes love in a very detailed way, or alluding to love making, which is odd of a singer songwriter, that’s almost a cliché in that sort of sub-genre(if you could even call it that.) He was a very autumnal songwriter, in that he spoke in broad terms referring to nature, the sky, the earth, and really didn’t write much on, let’s say, modern society.

The first song Time Has Told Me starts the album off on a perfect mood. A wistful song on time and the past. His lyrics are really up there with greats like Bob Dylan or Leonard Cohen. For instance, in the next song, which is my favorite off the album, River Man, has one of my favorite lyrical lines: “Betty said she prayed today/For the sky to blow away.” If I were someone to weep while listening to music, River Man would come pretty close to that desired effect.

Three Hours, the next song, really shows off his great range as a songwriter. His chords and the drums in the background really set an eastern tone. The lyrics are actually some of the darker ones on the album. Listen to the wind instrument solo, it’s a simple and beautiful melody. Coming up in second place for my favorite song on the album, Way To Blue actually is darker than Three Hours, but it’s the strings that make it so, not the lyrics. Listen to this song, I implore you. The next song Day is Done is a beautiful song, with strings in the background, it is a meditation on death I believe. Nick Drake touches on the subject of death a lot in his music, and it seems to me be a tragic sort of self-fulfilling prophecy, he’s the definition of tortured romantic singer songwriter. For those who are interested, there is a really in depth article called The Death of Nick Drake: The Death of Nick Drake

Cello Song is another beautiful song on an album where beauty is commonplace. On this album Nick often adds strings, bongos, a double bass (I think) and in this song a cello, all to add to his acoustic guitar. The Thoughts of Mary Jane is a cryptic song, the title seems like it would be a poorly hidden allusion to something else, but the lyrics talk of some almost angelic girl, perhaps from his teenage or childhood, some lost love. The next song, Man in a Shed has a really beautiful chorus, and I have a feeling the song has an autobiographical angle to it, look at the lyrics: “Well there was a man who lived in a shed/Spent most of his days out of his head.” I really like the piano in this song and the bass, it shows Drake’s innate ability to add backing instruments that don’t detract from his songwriting, which some songwriters will do if they take their beautiful acoustic songs and record them in a studio, but the background instruments really enhance the song(to all of his songs, really.) Fruit Tree is a haunting song, it speaks of hopelessness and death, and the solitude of fame. His lyrics are absolutely beautiful, maybe his best on the album:

Look at that last verse, those last two lines. That is what happened to Nick Drake’s career, he went the fate of Van Gogh and Bach, becoming famous only after their death. Saturday Sun is a particularly beautiful way to end an excellent album, with the piano being especially brilliant. This is a rare type of album in music, the perfect debut, made even more sad by the short time the artist lived. If Nick Drake were alive today, I have no doubt he would have much, much, much more perfect albums, and maybe even be able to enjoy his recognition. He's like Bob Dylan in a way that, if you like him, you REALLY like him, he hits deep, right to the core of you, but if you don't like him, you may hear mediocrity in a song that some consider precious. Hopefully, more people go for the latter, the route of precious sound, the route of a life enriched by one man's talent, who rose up into the air like a roman candle and exploded too soon.

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