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

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

  1. Rose River Bear

    Rose River Bear Forum Resident

    Three Hours

    Two bottom strings tuned down to B...capo third fret...my descriptions reference standard pitch.

    The song starts with a loose intro where Nick exposes some of the themes that will follow. The first section is highly syncopated with an insistent bass line that is not far removed from the style of John Lee Hooker and other bluesmen. As stated above, this section is mostly a drone with the vocal melody based on D Dorian mode. D Dorian is technically C major but focusing on the D tone. Some beautiful hammer ons. At 2:36 Nick mixes modes by introducing the D Ionian (Major). He brilliantly uses modal interchange to transition to the next section at 3:04. This section returns to D Dorian and has a descending bass line that is folk based but used quite a bit in rock music as well. The guitar is mostly in arpeggio fashion and has a Spanish sound. At 4:04 he introduces a descending chromatic line first subtly and then stronger with upper voices at 4:23. A Al Stewart used a similar technique in the outro to his song Nostradamus. A nod to Nick. The first section returns with some variation at 4:40. The opening theme returns. I like the percussion here. Some final lines of verse and then at 5:57 Nick adds tension with the B flat note and then he plays a beautiful variation of the D Ionian line heard in the transition section bringing the song to a somewhat happy sounding ending.

    Brilliant song in every way. Fantastic use of modal interchange and subtle variation. One of my favorites by Nick.
     
  2. zwolo

    zwolo Forum Resident

    Location:
    providence
    Hey rose river bear...please apply similar treatment to the previous songs and hopefully you stick with the thread-between you and the original poster and everyone else’s contribution this will be fantastic. It’s already great.
     
  3. lemonade kid

    lemonade kid Forever Changing Thread Starter

    Location:
    MidCoast...Maine
    Thanks for the great post. It further illustrates the complex musical genius of this teenaged ...amazing talent. Hard to find the words.
     
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  4. Rose River Bear

    Rose River Bear Forum Resident

    Thanks for asking. I was wondering if I should talk about the technical stuff in Nick's songs. They are difficult to describe technically due to the unusual tunings and the way he constantly changes things with different inversions and suspensions. It is almost impossible to describe his guitar work in too much detail.
    Thanks for reading my take on Three Hours.
     
  5. beccabear67

    beccabear67 Musical Omnivore

    Location:
    Victoria, Canada
    It's in service to the scary film (watched it today). There are some unusual moments musically that are also very effective, but a lot of it is unremarkable to me; who knows what time constraints there may have been, budget etc. I'm not sure what instrument is used in one case though, possibly a synth of some sort, or an unusual/exotic string instrument. A soundtrack album wouldn't be up there with 'Suspiria' by Goblin or anything, but it's a solid job from Harry Robinson.
     
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  6. beccabear67

    beccabear67 Musical Omnivore

    Location:
    Victoria, Canada
    I thought Nick Drake was 21 when he recorded Five Leaves Left (or was that perhaps when it was released)... and it's weird that as he died at 26 he had five years left at that time. He may've written things earlier, his lyrics are definitely influenced by poets I've read and perhaps were part of the school curriculum where he went back then. As for his development so young he played piano and saxophone earlier, and his mother Molly played and sang and wrote original lyrics which he'd have been exposed to. He is sort of standing on her shoulders a little, but the amazing guitar is all him from seeing people at Les Cousins club and so forth. They say Jackson C. Frank is crucial to understanding his playing as with Sandy Denny's (and she also played piano). There was so much happening in music at this time. For him to have become famous or successful commercially he would've needed a more out front partner of some wort like in the Humblebums... perhaps a bit of a comedian for while Nick re-tuned. It's funny that he wanted attention and yet so often is described as shrinking away from it when he had it (and as being affected by being ignored when that occured).

    Here are these amazing recordings, they steal up on you and resonate through the years... let's hope they remain available as long as there are ears to hear!
     
  7. beccabear67

    beccabear67 Musical Omnivore

    Location:
    Victoria, Canada
    There is a fair bit demonstrated in the Under Review DVD on Nick Drake, some involving a capo, some are one slight difference from a tuning on another song, some songs share the same tuning... this is why, unlike the modern guitarist having multiple guitars pre-tuned on stage, he had to stop and re-tune for the next number so often.

    Three Hours is supposedly about a male friend of his who became enslaved to love. There's lots that can be brought to it though besides that spark. Sometimes it's almost meaningless to know the real circumstances behind a song you find a lot in.
     
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2018
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  8. EddieMann

    EddieMann I used to be a king...

    Location:
    Geneva, IL. USA.
    Don't mean to stray off topic, but if you're interested in the musical environment in which Nick lived and played in, in England, this is one excellent book...

    [​IMG]
     
  9. Rose River Bear

    Rose River Bear Forum Resident

    Time Has Told Me

    Guitars tuned to standard pitch

    The song opens with Nick playing F-C. F is IV chord in C major and this is a classic country blues move to open the song on the IV. Some great alternating bass notes that is also somewhat country shuffle sounding. A country waltz. At :31 a bluesy C 7th chord and a fine turnaround follows ending on a G chord that pulls our ear the strongest to C major but Nick goes right back to the F chord softening the chord changes away from strict blues. The verse returns and Richard Thompson plays countrified fills that emulate a pedal steel at times. At 1:10 a bridge enters modulating to E major and the unexpectedly down to an E b chord which gives a tentative sound and it fits the lyrics. The chords then change in fifths back to G... a fantastic move that first adds tension and then familiarity thru the interval changes. The melody in the bridge stays on notes from C major but fit with the unusual chords as well. Like a beacon shining out from the storm. The verse returns at 1:38 and RT plays some more fine sounding country like licks. At 2:28, Nick craftily adds an additional verse line. The bridge follows and the verse follows again. At 4:11, the outro begins and ends resolving to the C major chord.

    A great opener with lots of influences. Blues, British Folk in the melody and some country chord changes and guitar lines as well. An amazing bridge with some unusual chord twists and turns.


     
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2018
  10. Rose River Bear

    Rose River Bear Forum Resident

    Excellent point. The fact that Nick had to change tunings between songs was difficult for him due to the uneasy silence that would occur. IIRC, he mentioned that it was one of the reasons he did not enjoy playing live.
     
  11. Rose River Bear

    Rose River Bear Forum Resident

    Thanks. Thank You for doing this thread. I had thought about doing one but changed my mind. I am a fan of Nick's but don't know a lot about his recording history and life other than what I have read in guitar magazines.
    I realize most fans of Nick's are very informed about him. I did not want to do a half baked thread just discussing his guitar playing.
     
    Last edited: Sep 5, 2018
  12. alexpop

    alexpop Power pop + other bad habits....

    Who suggested Harry Robinson, Nick's actress sister ?
     
  13. alexpop

    alexpop Power pop + other bad habits....

    Yes I do believe Gerry Rafferty would have suffered the slings and arrows if not the support from his partner Billy Connolly, strange bedfellows..but it worked.
     
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  14. Rose River Bear

    Rose River Bear Forum Resident

    The thing with Nick and his use of the capo is a story unto itself. Most players use a capo to play open type chords in a higher register. Nick sometimes used the capo to tighten the slack on his unison tuned bottom two strings and would play in keys you would not expect based on the capo. No open type chords. Complicated stuff......for me that is.
     
  15. mwheelerk

    mwheelerk "You say you'll change the constitution"

    Location:
    Gilbert Arizona
    I think it is interesting though for even those like me who really don't understand the technical aspects you describe. It's interesting because it says to me this music I love and have loved for 45 years has more of a reason to be special beyond I just like it.
     
  16. mwheelerk

    mwheelerk "You say you'll change the constitution"

    Location:
    Gilbert Arizona
    The retuning is an extremely interesting point towards explaining part of his reluctance to play live one that I would have never known.
     
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  17. beccabear67

    beccabear67 Musical Omnivore

    Location:
    Victoria, Canada
    No idea. She doesn't appear in the film anywhere. Gillian Hills (of The Owl Service, Blow-Up and Beat Girl) appears on screen the most.
     
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  18. alexpop

    alexpop Power pop + other bad habits....

    The question was did his sister actor have connections in 1969 who thought of the idea of using Harry Robinson for strings, or maybe John Wood/Joe Boyd then?
     
  19. alexpop

    alexpop Power pop + other bad habits....

    Found "Ladybird" Nanette ( singer ) soundtrack Harry Robertson ( Robinson) which has sweeping strings. used in the film Fright Night stars, Susan George.
     
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  20. Buddys Dad

    Buddys Dad Forum Resident

    Location:
    melton mowbray
    For a 1st album by an unknown artist, the faith shown by Joe Boyd is remarkable.
    Studio time was generous, musicians & arrangers were tried & if Nick wasn't happy, it was done again until he was.
    An earlier very different version of Three Hours, recorded at Morgan Studios, can be found on Made To Love Magic, featuring Traffic percussionist Rebop Kwaku Baah.

    For the FLL version in comes Danny Thompson (Pentangle) with "percussionist of the moment" Rocki Dzidzomu, best known for his work with The Stones eg. Sympathy For The Devil.
    Well worth comparing the 2 versions.
     
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  21. Buddys Dad

    Buddys Dad Forum Resident

    Location:
    melton mowbray
    Folk clubs/gigs were a lonely & testing place in the 60's/ 70s.
    Every artist had to have a range of between song banter/jokes/anecdotes to keep audiences entertained while they tuned up/retuned. If you didn't, you wouldn't last long!
    Nick found that impossible.
    Think it was Ralph Mctell who said watching Nick spend what felt like an age retuning in silence, followed by a mumbled intro to the next song was "excruciating".

    After one particularly bad gig he told Joe (Boyd) he was done touring.
    Most managers wouldn't, but Joe accepted this and believed he could still succeed purely as a recording artist/composer.
    Joe's faith was unshakeable so he kept Nick on a wage, even though his album sales wouldn't have been breaking even, financially.
     
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  22. lemonade kid

    lemonade kid Forever Changing Thread Starter

    Location:
    MidCoast...Maine
    You are right about my questionable math credentials...I said Nick (b. 19 June 1948) would have been 17, when he actually would have been 18 in the spring of 1967 (if he started writing songs before June 19th) when he wrote his first song (Robin Frederick, Fruit Tree booklet). And if he started to record as stated, one year later, Nick would have been either 19 or 20 (possibly both 19 and 20 if the sessions bridged his birthday) during the recording sessions. In any event, Nick was far and away a fully developed, remarkable talent by his late teens. ...Five Leaves Left was a remarkably mature achievement, for any age!

    The release date of Five Leaves Left was July 3, 1969, so Nick would have been 21 indeed at the time of its release. Good catch, beccabear67.

    :tiphat:
     
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  23. lemonade kid

    lemonade kid Forever Changing Thread Starter

    Location:
    MidCoast...Maine
    Same here (being a drummer) but those details of tuning and cluster chords etc give each song much more depth for me. Now I can listen for all those details.
     
  24. lemonade kid

    lemonade kid Forever Changing Thread Starter

    Location:
    MidCoast...Maine
    Good to see you believe in the music still (and you have your own record shop?), mwheelerk. When I lived in the valley of the sun in the 70's and 80's I visited often what seemed as much a head-shop as a vinyl record store...Tower Records on or near (I believe) the corner of Central and Camelback (or was it Indian School Road?).

    Keep on keepin' the turntable spinnin'.

    :tiphat:
     
  25. lemonade kid

    lemonade kid Forever Changing Thread Starter

    Location:
    MidCoast...Maine
    Thank you again!

    Keep em coming as we move along. I love your detailed analyses. They add so much to each song as we listen again and again. Time to listen once again.

    It is amazing to me how Nick fits his musical concept, lyrics & playing to fit the mood(s) he wishes to show us (few artists have that talent that Nick had, employing unique and seemingly ever changing chords and notes, moving from major to minor feels, shifts in rhythm, tempo) to fit those various parts and shifts in mood; from uplifting to somber, changing from one stanza to another, all in one song.
     

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