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Nick Drake: The Life

Nick Drake: The Life

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Do you think that, had Nick gotten more recognition, even if he had been unable to tour in the States, that might have helped with his career and his general perception of the worth of what he was doing?

and talk about the songs and the surreal cover like they’re a puzzle they can solve, but Pink Moon is like the Book of Revelation.To Nick Drake fans who may baulk a little at the no-punches-pulled nature of the book, please remember he was ill and that the illness was not the person. Obviously it is a step which we have to consider carefully, because it is an irrevocable one,” he began, going on to pose two vital questions: “Are you more or less likely to succeed at your chosen career if you leave now? Especially because I’m writing a book on the Velvet Underground, it’s an interesting connection to me – when the 1970s start you have these areas of rock which seem separate, but there were these unusual collaborations.

But he’s a very fine guitarist, it goes without saying, and probably put just as much work into his style as Nick did.

He was convinced straight away that this was a rare talent, and has openly said that he doesn’t understand why others didn’t feel the same way. Drake’s third and final album Pink Moon is a bleak, minimal affair, seemingly wrenched from the depths of mental illness. RU: Before his musical career, in the school reports, the image of Nick is of someone very reticent and almost passive, so it was surprising to me in the book to learn that he had a fierce streak of ambition. And you documented some specific instances: he had a poster of Donovan on his wall, a friend remembered him learning songs off Donovan’s two best albums, Sunshine Superman and Mellow Yellow, and Joe Boyd – the main producer of Nick Drake, who was interviewed extensively by Richard – enjoyed both those albums when working on what I would consider Nick’s best record, Bryter Layter. If that Volkswagen commercial had not appeared, I think his following now would be about as big, or only slightly less, than if it had not appeared.

Richard Morton Jack’s authoritative doorstop is, though, the definitive word on Drake, insofar as the story of a deeply inward-facing man can be told by others. Fortunately, one of those which accepted the offer was the Koutoubia Palace, Tangier’s most exclusive nightspot, which is done up in the style of a Moorish palace. View image in fullscreen Nick Drake in February 1971, a few months before the two sessions that comprised recording Pink Moon. On the second aspect – what advantages unconnected with your career may you be throwing away – there is not a great deal to say except that it is a rounded personality which is most likely to lead its owner on a happy and full road though life. I don’t think anyone ever anticipated John Cale being a good fit for Nick, it was just an inspired coincidence that he heard some of Nick’s recordings without adornments and thought, ‘I want to adorn them!The _ga cookie, installed by Google Analytics, calculates visitor, session and campaign data and also keeps track of site usage for the site's analytics report.

So it was gratifying for me to be able to contextualise Nick’s illness with the first, large part of his life and say that really the illness came down like a shutter on him, and doesn’t define how he always was. Yet he seemed disturbed that he didn’t have more success and recognition, especially maybe after the second album, which is in some ways a step forward from Five Leaves Left but didn’t get significantly more acclaim. So he was paying Nick a publishing advance every week because he was convinced that this was going to be where Nick was going to have his best shot at earning a decent amount of money. Did you find it funny – which is the wrong word – that towards the end of his life he seemed to be on a bit of an up?

A mixture of extreme shyness and difficulties with mental health meant that his beautiful, meditative and deeply melancholic take on mystical English folk slipped through the commercial cracks during his lifetime. But Nick’s arrangement had been that, after recording costs had been met on his albums, he would get 50% and Witchseason would get 50%. The reception was extraordinarily good and we all got stood rounds of drinks, which was rather pleasant. RU: Although I will say, even though I had read as much as I could about Nick Drake before Richard’s book, there were quite a few unearthings of significant information that I was not aware of – and not just bits of trivia.

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