Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by lemonade kid, Aug 29, 2018.
Yes. Thanks for catching it, and to the mods for their tireless work.
Did you get the recent Nick Drake MOJO issue with the tribute CD attached? Wonderful long section of articles on Nick and his music written by friends and admirers.
I love the ‘Pink Moon’album. Not one wasted note on that. I think it’s one of the very few genuinely perfect albums. I like Five Leaves Left without really loving it but I think ‘Bryter Layter’ is weighed down with stodgy string arrangements that smother the songs. He was a great artist though.
While Time Has Told Me is certainly a beautiful track, it is quite straightforward and simple compared to River Man which ups the ante with a bit more complexity. Where someone else would have sung the lyrics in a straightforward manner, the way he draws out the words ("betty came by on her waaaaay said she had a word to saaaay") shows a certain level to his craft that is striking for someone that was so young at the time. When the strings kick in it just adds yet another beautiful layer to it. Everything really clicks in on this song and the singing, guitar and strings all combine to actually create a kind of aural meandering river.
Yes. I think Time Has Told Me was intended as a kind of genius "easy" introduction meant to draw us in, and then WOW. River Man rolls in... like a swift moving river, rushing over us.
The warm and complex musicality of River Man is rooted in Nicks' unique cluster chords. As noted in the "A Much Dated Ruin, from A Much Outdated Style" book (Fruit Tree box):
"...cluster chords add extra notes close to, or are clustered around, the notes of a standard chord. These extra notes introduce a dissonant sound, which when combined with the basic triad, generates a new chord with added complexity, depth and warmth. In River Man, Nick uses cluster chords while shifting between major & minor feels. It all works together to create a floating landscape filled with ambivalence and mystery. This is reflected in the lyrics in which seasons and people come and go, and the singer of the song veers between hope and despair as the river flows on while he is denied freedom." - Robin Frederick
Such a beautiful analysis of River Man. My appreciation grows exponentially when we realize how just mature Nick's songwriting ability was, to be able to create the mood, through tempo, instrumentation and words. It is amazing to think that Nick wrote his first song in the spring of 1967, and one year later was playing them for Joe Boyd, recording them live at Boyd's Sound Technique studio.
Genius like Nick's can't be learned, it just is...
One night after some great wine & food a friend got her old vinyl, a 1st pressing of Five Leaves Left, out of the loft and without ceremony said "Steve...you might like this"
Which turned out to be one of those truly life changing moments at it happens.
Hand printed for me by Nick's photographer, the late & truly great Keith Morris, this photo is in pride of place between a pair of Quad 2905s in my music room.
You could say I'm a bit of a fan.
I've always loved that photo. Pretty much captures what Drake was all about.
Whilst not owning all these, I have issue 1 (at the front) in the collection.
Keith Morris was the go to guy
His memory & wonderful shots can be found here
Welcome - Keith Morris Gallery
At some point in Autumn 1969 Nick Drake did a gig at The Haworth Club, Hull.
Michael Chapman's girlfriend Andru found him wandering around after the show and bought him back to their place.
Nick gave Michael a copy of 'Five Leaves Left' that he still had, at least until fairly recently.
Michael Chapman: the man who connects Elton, Bowie, Nick Drake and Sonic Youth
I've have loved to have been a fly on the wall.
Lucky lucky you!
Several key people were involved in the making of Nick's 3 albums.
Joe Boyd, very much Nick's champion. He followed up the recommendation from Ashley Hutchings (Fairport) that he should check out Nick Drake.
Joe chose Sound Techniques Studios (a former dairy) and engineer John Wood as he knew they would both be sympathetic to the needs of a 19 year old recording his 1st album...
Another vital part of the Five Leaves Left jigwsaw, sound engineer John Wood.
Studio Stories: Sound Techniques |
Absolutely! I believe he co-produced Pink Moon with Nick, after Joe left.
The original Orchestrator on FLL was Richard Hewson.
To hear how very different FLL could have sounded its worth tracking down this album that has the Hewson tracks.
Nick was not at all happy and strongly insisted on a change.
He'd done some live work with Cambridge college friend Robert Kirby and insisted they give him a try out.
So another vital piece of the FLL jigsaw fell into place.
What I find the hardest to believe is their age. They were 19!
Nick's photographer Keith Morris at Redferns Music Gallery in 2004.
Was out of the country & missed the Private View attended by amongst others Paul Weller, a big fan. Damn!
However we went down to Redferns a few weeks later where Keith was interviewed for a documentary.
To listen to him talk through the 3 photo sessions with the Nick Drake prints on the wall was an afternoon I'll not forget.
keith morris redferns 1 by STEVE DIGGLE, on Flickr
Keith being filmed...
keith morris redferns 2 by STEVE DIGGLE, on Flickr
Keith Morris was never happy with the cover of FLL.
He wasn't happy with the photo choice on the front cover and especially disliked the large green area.
If memory serves his opinion was "Looks like it was designed by the ####### Blind School!"
When released in the summer of 69, FLL got mixed reviews.
The market was pretty saturated with singer songwriters, which made a hit single essential and/or you had to hit the road and tour the college & folk club circuit to build up a following that would support album sales.
Nick hated touring, had little in the way of between song repartit (essential to keep audience interest) whilst tuning his guitar differently for each song.
He abandoned playing live after a particularly inappropriate gig for a room of drunken apprentices.
However to Joe Boyd's eternal credit his belief in Nick didn't waver. The album sold a couple of thousand, showed promise and thoughts turned to songs for the follow up album.
In 2007 I spoke to Joe (Boyd) about 2008 being Nick's 60th birthday. He mentioned that he was looking at doing something & did I want to get involved?
That never came to anything but on 16th May 2009, along with my wife's best friend Melody who played me FLL for the very 1st time, we went to the 1st Way To Blue tribute concert at Birmingham Town Hall.
Joe lurked at the back of the stalls looking very nervous.
They opened with the track Way To Blue, Robert Kirby conducting the strings. Double bass by the original player, Danny Thompson.
The opening chords sounded EXACTLY like the original.
To say it was heart stopping does not get over the physical shock of hearing that song played live. By the end of we both had tears rolling down our faces and felt like we been hit by a train.
The evening eneded with a Q&A with Joe and Robert.
That whole concert is amazing. One of the best tributes ever. You were so lucky to have been there!
Time for Bryter Layter ?
This thread is a joy already. I never tire of reading about responses to Nick's music, as the stories that are shared are inevitably deeply personal. I once read an anecdote that you don't simply stumble upon Nick Drake, but instead he is a discovery, often one that is passed like a whispered secret between people. I've found his work to be something of a litmus test too; if you 'get' Nick Drake, you're likely to be a kindred spirit.
I don't know what I can say about Nick that others haven't already captured more succinctly. I discovered his music when I was about 26, ironically the age Nick was when he died. I read a passing reference to him online and decided to take a listen to the enigmatic man whose music was described with both hushed reverence and extraordinary praise. The first song I heard was his home demo of 'They're Leaving Me Behind' which was looping on the official Bryter Music website, probably from when the 'Family Tree' compilation had been released. Despite the lo-fi quality of the recording, I was instantly moved by Nick's voice, lyric and guitar playing. It was a visceral, whole body response that has never been matched by any other artist on first hearing like that. I began reading up on his life with keen interest as I listened to the albums in chronological order, each one a unique and marvellous experience. I never tire of his catalogue, which although cut short remains the ultimate example of quality over quantity. These albums and songs have become trusted companions and despite the temptation to cast Nick's music as mournful and sad, I have always found it to be comforting.
I attended the 'Way To Blue' tribute show at the Sydney Opera House when it finally reached Australia. I remember seeing Joe Boyd standing on the outside deck by himself, staring out at the Harbour Bridge as dusk settled in. I wondered if he was thinking of Nick in that moment, and how surreal he would have found it to have his songs played at the most iconic venue of a country on the other side of the world. I watched him as he stood at the sound desk for most of the show like an anxious parent, and finally plucked up the courage to speak to him at the end of the performance. I can't remember what he said, or what I said, but it was a thrill to make a momentary connection with one of the men who helped commit the songs that had taken root in my heart to record all those years ago.
A few years later on a visit to England I was staying with friends in the midlands. We were travelling to Stratford-upon-Avon for the day and I sheepishly asked if we could go via Tanworth-in-Arden. It was one of the most profoundly special moments of my entire trip. I walked through the church grounds towards the cemetery at the back, where the only sound for miles was the echo of children's laughter from the local school. I found Nick's headstone under the large oak tree that stands guard looking out towards an open field behind the church. I crouched down for a few minutes, reading the simple couplet from 'From The Morning' inscribed on the back of the headstone ('now we rise/and we are everywhere') and noting the quiet beauty of the surroundings. I walked a couple of streets away to Far Leys, Nick's childhood home, and stared up at the house I felt I already knew. I tried to imagine the music room where he recorded so many of the songs preserved on the 'Family Tree' compilation on the reel-to-reel recorder his father bought, or the bedroom where his life ultimately came to an end. There was something so powerful about seeing Nick's world as he would have, walking the same village streets and taking in the pastoral sights that inspired his songwriting. In some ways it felt like a location that had stood still over time, and the little indicators of Nick's life (a cutting from the blanket he wore in the early Julian Lloyd 'forest' photoshoot framed in the local pub, or the plaque on the organ in the church donated by his family) made him seem very present. I treasure that day.
I too will struggle to comment on Nick's music in the minutiae of this thread, as it tends to transcend description. I will say that I am always drawn to the way he used his voice. Although he was probably a more naturally able musician than he was a singer, I had never heard anyone sing the way Nick did, wrapping his voice around a melody in such a way that it becomes another instrument. Words are bent into shape over notes, with syllables flexing and unfurling in their own time, not demanding attention from the listener but helping to build the atmosphere of the song. In this way, Nick's songs sound like fragments of things remembered, intangible thoughts suddenly pinned down, fleeting glimpses of experiences rendered so crystalline in their clarity that you wonder how somebody managed to capture The Exact Feeling you have never quite had the words for. This is his true gift.
Lovely post Chris_Sydney.
A "Blue Plaque" has been fixed to Far Lees. Sadly they got his date of birth wrong.
NickDrake by photos sd, on Flickr
Very happy you started this... ND is truly one of a kind and I'll be looking forward to the comments on each song as they come along. How many artists can you say that about, that each piece has something worth mentioning? Although there have been countless artists who never hit the music business jackpot, the loss of Drake is among the most poignant when you think of how brilliantly his creativity shone. The power of his music is truly unique!
Sorry, no. We're, or I am, doing it as a song by song thread, album by album. It will take a while, as Nick's music appreciation should also. Track 3 after the holiday.
Separate names with a comma.