Nick Drake Appreciation - Album By Album & All Things Nick Drake*

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by lemonade kid, Aug 29, 2018.

  1. lemonade kid

    lemonade kid Forever Changing Thread Starter

    Location:
    Maine
    NICK DRAKE
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    Though Nick Drake only recorded three albums for Joe Boyd's seminal Witchseason production company released on the Island label (though Joe sold Witchseason by the third LP, devastating Nick as Joe left for America)... Nick's three albums are as amazingly creative and solid a catalog as any artist could even rise to. I have been reading the book included in the Fruit Tree Box set (highly recommended) if only for the DVD documentary and the book included, along with three solid days of Nick three seminal works. In order, song by song, lyric by lyric...


    Whether you listen via youtube, CD, or vinyl, let the music take you to a purely English songwriter's creations; and if this is your first really serious immersion into Nick Drake, jump in and let the music rush over you (my Island vinyl are reissues, but must-haves nonetheless).

    Reading the book, listening to the LPs, and following the lyrics included, song by song, as I've said in another thread, (even after listening to Nick's LPs for decades), for some reason, this time round it has been like a pilgrimage and religious experience. Maybe because previously I've always listened to Nick to whatever, in no particular order, whenever.

    This time was it serious exploration, over a 72 hours time frame, song by song, album by album. I can't think of another trilogy of albums that are as deeply cutting, heartbreaking, and honest an autobiographical music excursion -- just wonderful , and heartbreakingly beautiful.

    Lets get started.

    PS. Later on we will explore his unreleased treasury of songs...especially his last five recorded songs, that were meant for a forth album that was sadly never realized.

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    Last edited: Aug 29, 2018
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  2. inaptitude

    inaptitude Forum Resident

    Nice idea for a thread. I came to Nick Drake through Belle & Sebastian. I was on a B&S mailing list in the mid-90s and his name kept coming up, so I asked if he was worth checking out. One response that I still remember was "It would be better if no one else in the world released any music and Nick Drake did than if all the music in the world existed and he never released a single song." Hyperbole to be sure, but it led me to buy the Fruit Tree cd box set and his music has been on regular rotation ever since. Never gets old, never sounds dated and whenever I put an album of his on it never ceases to astonish me in terms of the quality of the music and depth of lyrics.
     
  3. lemonade kid

    lemonade kid Forever Changing Thread Starter

    Location:
    Maine
    Five Leaves Left 1969
    If we could all have a listen first, then let's talk...I will have another listen myself, thank you!

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    You all (if you don't have the album already) can have a serious listen here, to the full album.

    nick drake five leaves left full album - YouTube

    BBC Review


    All we can do is bask in the unique vision captured here.
    Chris Jones 2007

    Twenty years ago Nick Drake was a distinctly word-of-mouth proposition whose slim back catalogue was shared by a select few. Nowadays, thanks to championing by the likes of Paul Weller, as well as a series of books and TV and radio documentaries (cf: Radio 2's effort hosted by Brad Pitt!), Nick's a household name. This may account for the recent avalanche of 'sensitive' singer songwriters but it's hard not to be still floored by the beauty of his first album.

    Discovered by Fairport Convention's Ashley Hutchings and signed to Joe Boyd's Witchseason production company Drake was pigeonholed as a 'folk' artist. Five Leaves Left, recorded on a shoestring in 1969, boasted a cast of players who had paid their dues forging the new genre of folk rock (ie: Fairport's Richard Thompson and Pentangle's Danny Thompson); but this was a whole different kettle of
    Englishness, with more than a hint of jazz about it. Sung in the semi-whispered tones that betrayed no hint of ersatz rurality, these cryptic songs of reflection and emotional 'otherness' were propelled by the one thing that had attracted Boyd to Drake: His idiosyncratic open-tuned picking style 'Cello Song.

    Drake is often painted as a retiring man, yet he was often extremely vocal over his muse. He and Boyd initially fought (not really a "Fight", actually Nick calmly insisted on Kirby for the strings, and Boyd assented after realizing the string arrangements weren't working-LK) over Drake's wish for a stripped back approach (which he eventually found on his last masterpiece, Pink Moon). In the end old college friend, Robert Kirby, provided orchestration that beautifully captured the yearning 'autumnal' element in the songs "Way To Blue" and "Day Is Done".

    What's more, the string arrangement by Harry Robinson on "River Man" - possibly Drake's finest song - succinctly turned his Delius-meets-folk-jazz opus into something that no one had ever heard before. It's a key text for Drake fans, containing the return to nature matched against the infidelities of city life: A theme he would return to again and again, while the album title's sly reference to smoker's delights (as well as "Thoughts Of Mary Jane") showed that Drake was no stranger to the standard musician's indulgences.

    Widely ignored upon its release, with hindsight it's easy to see how such ignorance conspired to make Drake a bitter man.
    Yet ultimately all we can do is bask in the unique vision captured here and be grateful that, for a short period, Nick Drake was able to share with us all.

    Track
    Time Has Told Me
    River Man
    Three Hours
    Way to Blue
    Day Is Done
    ’Cello Song
    The Thoughts of Mary Jane
    Man in a Shed
    Fruit Tree
    Saturday Sun


     
    Last edited: Aug 29, 2018
  4. inaptitude

    inaptitude Forum Resident

    I'll also add that if you haven't yet, do yourself a favour and pick up this book. Completely changed my ideas around him as a person and a musician.

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  5. lemonade kid

    lemonade kid Forever Changing Thread Starter

    Location:
    Maine
    Recording "Five Leaves Left", Nick was just 20 years old...

    Track 1. Time Has Told Me (Five Leaves Left)




    Pitchfork review:
    Even as a 20-year-old, Drake's vision for his music was strikingly assured. He was nervous, fumbling, and difficult to engage in conversation in the studio, but he knew what he wanted. He calmly insisted that Boyd and John Wood hire arranger Robert Kirby, a fellow student at Cambridge. Bewildered, they obeyed, and were rewarded with the breathtaking string chart for “Way to Blue”. With its clean lines and grave elegance, "Way to Blue" suggests the philosophy that would distinguish Nick Drake’s music over the years and damn it during his lifetime: in Joe Boyd’s words, it simply “was not reaching out to you." Drake was painfully English, and showiness wasn’t really in his nature. But profundity glowed from his music.

    ....................................................

    Such an amazing introduction to Nick's world. What an amazing track. Share your thoughts on this...track one.

    -LK


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  6. PCM7027

    PCM7027 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Ireland
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    Mojo magazine deserves credit for putting him on the cover in February 1997, which I think did wonders for people's awareness. One of my more forward-thinking colleagues in HMV at the time used this as an excuse to rack up the back catalogue and - back when such things were not frowned upon by management - actually play Bryter Layter in the shop! I remember playing the Way to Blue compilation once, and a customer's interest was piqued by Cello Song. He bought the CD on the spot. :)
     
  7. mwheelerk

    mwheelerk Believe In Music Stores Grand Rapids MI 1973 -2002

    Location:
    Gilbert Arizona
    My first introduction to Nick Drake I will not forget. Though as it turned out my friend and I listened almost an entire day over and over to the LP self titled Nick Drake which unknown to us at the time was a compilation of songs from Five Leaves Left and Bryter Layter released in the US on Island in 1971. This was 1973 when I heard it and I think it may have been another year before I realized there were other albums out there, those glorious albums. Our listening was supported by coca cola and magic mushrooms. I think I remained up for three days.
     
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  8. inaptitude

    inaptitude Forum Resident

    Time Has Told Me has always been one of my favourites of his. Just a beautiful track with simple lyrics that I've always heard as pining for someone to help him through his emotional issues.

    Time has told me
    You're a rare, rare find
    A troubled cure
    For a troubled mind

    But then as always you'll never find a solution to your problems in someone else...

    Your tears they tell me
    There's really no way
    Of ending your troubles
    With things you can say
     
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  9. Parachute Woman

    Parachute Woman Forum Resident

    Wonderful thread, @lemonade kid ! I adore Nick Drake. I began listening to him when I was in college (about ten years ago now). I believe his music was recommended to me on iTunes after I downloaded some Leonard Cohen songs. The first two songs I heard by him were "Northern Sky" and "Cello Song." I was floored right away and I often love to journey into Nick's unique, beautiful, fragile, rainy world. I tend to listen to everything in my Fruit Tree box when I get in the mood for Nick. All three albums plus Time of No Reply. I don't think there's a weak song or even a weak moment in the whole set.

    Time Has Told Me
    A lovely, intensely moving way to begin the journey. "A troubled cure for a troubled mind" of course inspired Robert Smith to name his band the Cure. The wonderful thing about Nick is that his music is absolutely timeless. "Time Has Told Me" could have easily come out within the last decade. It's English and poetic and soft. My favorite stanza has always been:

    Time has told me
    You came with the dawn
    A soul with no footprint
    A rose with no thorn

    "A soul with no footprint"...That line has made me think and puzzle over the years. Five Leaves Left is probably my favorite of the three albums, but they are all so brilliant. This one just feels like being out for a walk in the rainy, muddy English countryside.
     
  10. inaptitude

    inaptitude Forum Resident

    I think it could almost be a line about himself. From what I've read, he was often seen by people that knew him as a deep, kind "soul" but sort of ephemeral that would just disappear without you noticing or leaving a "footprint."
     
  11. Parachute Woman

    Parachute Woman Forum Resident

    Very nice interpretation. And very sad that, like Van Gogh, he died without knowing the impact his work would have on people and the "footprint" he would leave as his musical legacy.
     
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  12. Sear

    Sear Forum Resident

    Location:
    Tarragona (Spain)
    I like him and I have all his records but I never find the time or moment to listen to it.
    Too depressing, too "proto-emo". When I was younger I was more impressed by him than nowadays
     
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  13. zwolo

    zwolo Forum Resident

    Location:
    providence
    I love the idea of this thread but like talk talk spirit of eden I’m not sure words can suffice in describing the incredible feelings this man’s music delivers. It’s a weird situation, of course I will read others opinions insights but the songs are sacred I know it sounds crazy over the top but the songs cut so close to the soul it’s hard to explain. That being said the fact others get it is I don’t know comforting. The intro to this thread it seems the original poster is in the same boat. I love when people are affected the same way you feel less like an abnormality. If I’m honest and appreciate the craft of Dylan Lennon/McCartney etc I still am slayed by this mans gift he gave more than anything. This thread could go on for pages I’ll read every word but to sit and give each song a serious listen will be the true reward.
     
  14. Parachute Woman

    Parachute Woman Forum Resident

    I had similar thoughts--uncertainty about how I can comment on the songs when most of what I get from them is something really emotional and personal and may not be easy to describe in words. I'm giving it a shot, but the real joy here for me will be seeing what everyone else feels and experiences through the music.
     
  15. lemonade kid

    lemonade kid Forever Changing Thread Starter

    Location:
    Maine
    Your words are very moving for a man that has "No words". I agree that Nick's music is so deep and full of grace and beauty that there really are no words to express it fully, especially when immersed in his songs. But let's keep trying....if for no other reason than to get Nick's music out there for all to hear!

    Thankfully we all are doing a nice job of expressing our feelings with....words. I will say that unlike almost every other artist I love (Gene Clark may come closest), and there are many, Nick runs the deepest in my soul.

    Cheers to you all and I'll try to post each song every couple days (or when we have expressed our feelings fully--well that could take maybe too long!) ...long enough for us to hear and express our thoughts and feelings about each song.

    Unlike some album by album threads, this one absolutely needs a "song by song" treatment, without a doubt.


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  16. lemonade kid

    lemonade kid Forever Changing Thread Starter

    Location:
    Maine
    If it is ok with the mods (and I'll give Credits) I will also post the lyrics. One can't fully appreciate the impact, I think, without at least once following the words to the music...

    Read along as you listen...a captivating video too

    Licensed to:UMG (on behalf of Island Records); BMG Rights Management, CMRRA,
    Youtube by: Abramus Digital, ARESA, and 6 Music Rights Societies




    1. Time Has Told Me, Five Leaves Left

    Nick Drake

    Time has told me
    You're a rare, rare find
    A troubled cure
    For a troubled mind

    And time has told me
    Not to ask for more
    Someday our ocean
    Will find its shore

    So I'll leave the ways that are making me be
    What I really don't want to be
    Leave the ways that are making me love
    What I really don't want to love

    Time has told me
    You came with the dawn
    A soul with no footprint
    A rose with no thorn

    Your tears they tell me
    There's really no way
    Of ending your troubles
    With things you can say

    And time will tell you
    To stay by my side
    To keep on trying
    'Til there's no more to hide

    So leave the ways that are making you be
    What you really don't want to be
    Leave the ways that are making you love
    What you really don't want to love

    Time has told me
    You're a rare, rare find
    A troubled cure
    For a troubled mind

    And time has told me
    Not to ask for more
    So someday our ocean
    Will find its shore

    Songwriters: Nick Drake
    Time Has Told Me lyrics © BMG Rights Management
     
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  17. Mr-Beagle

    Mr-Beagle Forum Resident

    Location:
    London, 'nuff said
    I discovered Duncan Browne through a Nick Drake website. I like Nick's work but think that Bryter Layter was overproduced.
     
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  18. lemonade kid

    lemonade kid Forever Changing Thread Starter

    Location:
    Maine
    Love Duncan.

    I think one needs to approach Bryter Layter from the point of view that Nick was so disappointed in the lack of success of Five Leaves Left, that he felt he wanted to try a different approach. He was impressed by the likes of Pet Sounds, with its soundscapes and instrumental breaks, and felt he wanted to grow his music into such new and creative avenues.

    At first I felt the same way, somewhat. But I love it even more and equally since re-reading the Fruit Tree booklet (recently). Along with fresh listens, and delving into the music and understanding the lyrics, it's a logical move and quite an impressive album. It needs more listens for some to appreciate it. But we'll get to that album soon enough...I digress.

    [​IMG]
     
  19. DrewMeyer

    DrewMeyer Forum Resident

    Location:
    Arizona
    I listened to (and fell in love with) Pink Moon first. It was a while before I bought any of his other music and the next album I got was Bryter Layter. Honestly I was very disappointed because, like you, I felt it was so produced compared to the stripped back intimacy of Pink Moon. The drums and strings and piano made it feel so conventional which is not how I knew Nick Drake up until that point. However with time it has grown into my favorite of the 3, songs like Hazey Jane I, Fly and Northern Sky alone make the album a masterpiece in my opinion. The problem I think is it's almost too "accessible" it doesn't at first sound like it lives up to Nick Drakes standard. But there is some real depth hidden underneath the sheen.
     
  20. idleracer

    idleracer Forum Resident

    Location:
    California
    :kilroy: This was my introduction to him:

     
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  21. Parachute Woman

    Parachute Woman Forum Resident

    It's interesting because I think the orchestration really suits the songs on Bryter Layter. I think the production/soundscapes of each of the three records suits the songs contained therein and I like that there's a bit of variety in Nick's very brief catalog. I certainly don't think the orchestration on BL is a hindrance to the compositions the way that over-arrangement all but ruined James Taylor's debut album.
     
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  22. ralphb

    ralphb "First they came for..."

    Location:
    Brooklyn, New York
    Also thanks to Nick Kent, whose 1974('75?) feature article on Drake in the NME turned a lot of us older fans on to this fantastic artist.
    And thank you to Volkswagen.
     
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  23. fjn04

    fjn04 Forum Resident

    Location:
    clifton Park, NY
    I started my Nick Drake venture with the UM pressing of Pink Moon, which I believe was released in 2013. I bought a pressing of Five Leaves left
    a few years ago at a record convention, and while it was minty, it didn't sound good at all. I'm embarrassed to say, I don't know what pressing it
    was, and I no longer have it. I recently shelled out $65 for an early (Black label) US Antilles, and it's the real deal. I just received it earlier this
    week. This, and the UM Pink Moon are both excellent. Pink Moon sounds more dimensional and open, but this FLL is no slouch, very analog
    like, plenty of bloom, and just so THERE sounding. My guess is Pink Moon was likely the better recording from the beginning, but I'm
    not certain. I will never know, as the early UK pressings of FLL go for big money.
     
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  24. beccabear67

    beccabear67 Musical Omnivore

    Location:
    Victoria, Canada
    There were two early Mojo magazines with great articles on him, including the one shown, and that got me interested as I was new into Fairport (started with Five Leaves Left). Nick, Fairport and all things Sandy Denny and Richard Thompson have continued to grow on me over time, Duncan Browne too. On first listen it was 'well, it's nice but...' and then it has slipped under the door and taken up squatter's rights in some part of the musical brain and lives there still! It's a magic trick sort of (Americans like this are Lou Reed and Gene Clark). These are artists for a lifetime and so sad to know that some of them had such short lives themselves. :cry:

    The Nick Drake Under Review DVD is worth getting. I liked every 'Under Review' DVD I've gotten but this one is particularly good although the tv documentary 'A Skin Too Few' was brilliant and a must see as well. I was amazed when the local bookshop had copies of the deluxe book also shown above... Nick Drake is practically in the mainstream consciousness now and deservedly so!
     
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  25. beccabear67

    beccabear67 Musical Omnivore

    Location:
    Victoria, Canada
    There was a great blog named Time Will Tell You that helped me find obscure (to a North American often) British folk music albums, I assumed it was a play on this Nick Drake song title. I often went on to order some of the albums from Vinyl Tap and other UK specialist dealers. They may've helped some in England find John Stewart going the other direction, who knows.

    I am going to put on some Nick Drake right now, I need it!
     

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