Nick Drake was only 26 when he took his own life. He recorded three albums within three years, none of which saw any commercial success in his lifetime. On this, his last album, he sounds world-weary and wise far beyond his years. Already an introverted and isolated young man, clearly with undiagnosed or unresolved mental health issues, following the release of Pink Moon, Drake became further withdrawn and slipped into an inconsolable depression. It’s a stark album, notably different from the previous two, with none of the catchy singalongs such as Northern Sky or modern folk classics such as River Man. It’s just Nick, playing guitar and singing, with one single simple piano line accompanying the title track.
Hauntingly bleak at times, it’s also incredibly intimate, achieved by the close micing of Drake’s voice and guitar. His guitar playing is quite special, a self-taught player, who practised for hours at a time, and it shows. The album itself was recorded in just two late night sessions with engineer/producer John Wood. It’s one of those albums that is most definitely best heard on vinyl, not least because you need to listen to the unsaid sounds and silence between the words and music. The act of placing the needle on the groove and waiting for his voice in your ear is required to give due reverence to this 28 minute masterpiece.
Nick Drake’s ashes are buried with his parents’ in the village of Tanworth-in-Arden in Warwickshire where he grew up. On the gravestone are written the last lines of the last song on this record, From the Morning: ‘Now we rise, and we are everywhere’.
Best Bits: The strange surreal simplicity of Pink Moon
Like This, Try This: Burning the bedsit candles, one by one