Nick Drake
April 2, 2002 5:31 PM   Subscribe

Nick Drake, whose work is familiar to many here, was an astonishing musical talent - a songwriter whose sad, sad songs predated by 28 years the quiet alt.folk of Belle and Sebastian and Cat Power. It was not until long after his tragic, early death that he gained the appreciation he deserved. The Internet is home to a large community of fans, some of whom have made available MP3 bootlegs of his rare bedroom recordings at Tamworth-on-Arden. Almost three decades since his overdose, all that remains for the listener is the flicker of his voice and the dance of his fingers on guitar-strings and piano-keys. [More inside.]
posted by Marquis (21 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
If the Tamworth-on-Arden tapes are downloading slow, much of the same material is available here. Other links of interest include the lovely Nick Drake Files, whose unparalleled library of guitar tabs is maintained by none-other than Chris Healey, the man behind the sublime arco; and Mother Nature's Sonretrospective on Nick's life and work, and if you're interested in amateur musicians carrying on in the dark acoustic tradition, Tom Wilson will even send you his CD free of charge.
posted by Marquis at 5:32 PM on April 2, 2002

in a special on vh-1, i recall some uncertainty over whether Drake intentionally overdosed or whether his death via antidepressants was accidental. Nick Drake is really good.
posted by moz at 5:39 PM on April 2, 2002

Did he commit suicide or was it a tragic accident? That's what I want to hear opinions on. My Dad is firmly on the side of the latter explanation. Nick Drake wrote some frankly incredible music. He was such an enigma though... a fascinating, tragic enigma.
posted by RokkitNite at 5:40 PM on April 2, 2002

Seems like a similar story to Eva Cassidy.
posted by wackybrit at 5:44 PM on April 2, 2002

His voice reminds me of John Cale, in its normallness and sincerity. Although younger sounding. This is pretty marvelous.....and by pretty marvelous I mean totally sweet.

B&S and CP are both good but I'm the type that needs a performer to be unhip, unpopular, dead, self ridiculing or good at pop music (roxy music, john cale, joy division, smiths, new order, being obvious examples for a layperson), so this guy is revelatory to me. He's not particularly good looking, which is a major plus for a singer/songwriter, and the recording sounds like hell.

So in conclusion, this is realllly wonderful music. Awesome awesome, I can't wait till all these are downloaded..awesome..
posted by Settle at 5:44 PM on April 2, 2002

Speaking of non-mainstream artists finding accidental success after their songs are featured in commercials, was it my imagination, or did I hear the opening strains of Modest Mouse's "Gravity Rides Everything" in the background of a Miller commercial about 30 minutes ago? Please tell me it was my imagination...
posted by saladin at 5:45 PM on April 2, 2002

RokkiNite: in my Nick Drake box set (and in most everything I've read), it's said that the OD was accidental, that he was actually on an 'up' at the time of his death. No suicide note, parents didn't expect it, etc.

wackybrit: I've heard such fantastic things about Eva Cassidy, but I can't. find. her. music. Everything's either a $40 import or it just plain don't exist, here in Canada. And nobody I know (on the Net or otherwise) has got it for me to download for a taste. sigh.

saladin: ... or did I hear the opening strains of Modest Mouse's "Gravity Rides Everything"

dunno, but that's a durn good song.
posted by Marquis at 5:54 PM on April 2, 2002

saladin--I saw that commercial yesterday and your worst fears are confirmed. I couldn't believe it either. But, back on topic, I wouldn't have had a clue about Nick if it weren't for that VW ad. A couple of my friends that I raved about him to wouldn't know either.
posted by LionIndex at 6:00 PM on April 2, 2002

Did he commit suicide or was it a tragic accident?

In the end it dosen't really matter RokkitNite, Nick Drake is gone and I miss him. The man was a true original although his spirit looms large over the artists Marquis mentioned and numerous others.

saladin and LionIndex are right, it is weird hearing cult artists in commercials. I nearly fell out of my chair when I heard the Faces' "Ooh La La" in that Mitsubishi spot a while back. But the artists are getting heard, which is a good thing. Although whoever picks music for Mitsubishi ads needs to get out of the shill game and open a radio station someplace.
posted by jonmc at 6:17 PM on April 2, 2002

Wow, I remember hearing about Nick Drake for the first time while searching the web for stuff about Tim and Jeff Buckley. Nick and Tim have similar tragic stories. If it weren't for This Mortal Coil's version of Song To The Siren, I would not have heard any of their stuff. Thanks go to Ivo Watts-Russell for the long strange trip.
posted by yonderboy at 7:55 PM on April 2, 2002

Genius. I have had the Tanworth boot for about five years. Picked it up at the fantastically elitist Other Music in New York, which sadly just closed their shop in Cambridge.
The one LP that I want back from an ex is Five Leaves Left. She just moved back to the east coast, maybe...
posted by anathema at 8:04 PM on April 2, 2002

Other Music Cambridge closed?? When??
posted by Settle at 8:52 PM on April 2, 2002

Drake was indeed a great talent. I first found him through the Swans cover of Black Eyed Dog. A different take, to say the least. I have a boot of his demos which is a good listen too.
posted by Kafkaesque at 9:47 PM on April 2, 2002

Thank you Marquis. I have been looking for Tanwerth-in-Arden forever. At the radio station where I DJ (WPRB) we have the Nick Drake LPs on vinyl and, secretly, after my late-night show is over, I sit in the studio and listen to them. For everyone who's never heard his studio records you can buy them all in one go in the excellent Fruit Tree box set; and the Nick Drake biography by Patrick Humphries is a lovely book.

I've always thought of him as very good-looking, actually, in his velvet blazer. And very very English in the best way. Has anybody here heard of Archer Prewitt? He reminds me a lot of Nick Drake.
posted by josh at 9:48 PM on April 2, 2002

hey jonmc, you know, I think that the use of some of the songs in commercials nowadays is very strange. like that faces song...i consider it kind of a bitter tune lyrics-wise, and I find it strange that it's used to try to sell me something. the same goes for the spiritualized VW ads...the guy's singing about how much he loves heroin...oh and buy a VW!

and nick drake, oh, is one of my most favorite singer-songwriters. when i was an unemployed record store clerk living with a couple i'll just simply refer to here as the creeps, i'd wait until they left the house for work and put on nick drake, stare out the window and just dream. he was an amazing artist.
posted by kittyloop at 10:17 PM on April 2, 2002

Marquis - here is one Eva Cassidy Song Wade in the Water

The Washington Post of all places has it. By the way, that link has you agreeing to be bound by their terms. If you're concerned you can probably hack it and remove the Agreed.
posted by willnot at 10:37 PM on April 2, 2002

Back in 1984, when I was making my second failed attempt at some sort of A-level qualification, I was working with the radio on, not really paying attention. Then a track came on that I had to listen to and I sat there transfixed by it for its duration - it was Fruit Tree and they had just released the Heaven in a Wild Flower compilation as a way of somehow deleting the albums while maintaining Joe Boyd's promise to Nick that his music would always be available. It took me a couple of years to find the albums and even then it was only when they rereleased the Fruit Tree box set.

I'm really glad that he's become better known in the last few years, even if there is possibly a bit of resentment at my music being shared with the masses (after all for all that time, I was literally the only person I knew who had heard of him).
posted by Grangousier at 11:19 PM on April 2, 2002

Wow, Marquis, thanks. This is the best musical post ever. And there's stiff competition around. I'm going to open that room and look for the original records - I actually poo-pooed them when they came out, as English bedsit stuff. Now his songs are slowly growing on me again...
posted by MiguelCardoso at 2:55 AM on April 3, 2002

shit, gravity rides everything is in a beer commercial? augh! i wanna go back to sleep... well at least isaac brock gets a house.

that's cool you can download bootlegs and stuff on the web. (remember indieboots?) i first heard nick drake on the tenenbaums soundtrack :)
posted by kliuless at 5:27 AM on April 3, 2002

Kafkaesque, anathema, make sure that you've got all the Tamworth-on-Arden recordings. I had an album of about 18 songs, but it turns out there are closer to 40 out there - available for DL at the site above.
posted by Marquis at 6:04 AM on April 3, 2002

I need to get DSL, damn it. While I am sheepish to admit that I too became a Nick Drake fan after watching the Pink Moon commercial, I still rave over him every chance I get to people who've never heard his music. Now I have "things behind the sun" stuck in my head. This a great post, thanks.
posted by annathea at 7:21 AM on April 3, 2002

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