The Music of Nick Drake

I doubt that I've gone a month on here without mentioning how certain artists, most notably Springsteen and Uncle Tupelo/Wilco, provided the impetus for my now lifelong love of music. In addition to the artists, there are certain records, first heard at a specific time, that also played a huge part. There was Springsteen's Born To Run in the late-seventies, Public Enemy's It Takes a Nation of Millions To Hold Us Back in the late-eighties, and of course, the Americana onset in the mid-nineties. Records of note would be Uncle Tupelo's entire catalog, The Jayhawks' Hollywood Town Hall and hundreds of others.

All that said (over and over), one of the greatest discoveries of my life has been the music of Nick Drake. The story of Drake's career has played out over the past five years or so. He recorded only three records from 1969-1972, before dying of an apparent accidental overdose on antidepressants in 1974 at the age of 27. The three records that he released to almost zero notice at the time, comprise some of the most beautiful, moving and important music of the past century. 31 songs. That's it. But no artist before him or to this day did what Drake was able to put together through words, voice, astounding guitar playing and a host of contributors. There is a pastoral feel to his music that is unique to only Drake.

No artist in my entire collection provides as much as warmth as Nick Drake. I want to listen to his music while driving, while in bed, while writing and while doing just about anything. It's a true contradiction that despite suffering from almost boundless depression and anxiety, Nick Drake's music summons the exact opposite: It puts us at ease. It allows us to look beyond what's directly in front of us. It's a music that's so massive that it's almost dreamlike.

About two years ago, I saw Nick's sister, Gabrielle, along with his producer, Joe Boyd, talk of Nick's life before a packed hall in San Francisco. When I walked into the hall, "River Man" was playing as I looked for my seat. When I finally settled in, I looked around the room and the entire hall seemed mesmerized. It was a beautiful room, and Drake's music seemed to fill everyone's head and spirit with something that only Nick Drake's music can do. And to this day and the years to come, therein lies Nick Drake's legacy.