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Nick Drake: The Life

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They were so dark and sad, and telling about the state of his mind: doom, gloom and despair, with apocalyptic elements. And one of the many puzzles about Nick’s recording career is why so few people did record his songs. And I don’t mean to sound insulting to these composers, I just mean the more overtly melodic parts of their work. And I feel there’s an irony about my book, which is that there’s now more knowledge about Nick available than there is about absolute megastars, Jimmy Page or Mick Jagger, say, whose private worlds remain a mystery because they keep them that way, meaning their public face and books are drawn from pretty superficial interviews and so on. I mean, even the Velvet Underground got a lot more positive response when they were active than has generally been acknowledged.

Cambridge has been quite pleasant this term, but here I am, becoming increasingly sure that I want to leave soon. This is an example of how, although Nick Drake’s image is of somebody who barely said anything and didn’t assert himself, he stood his ground and insisted that the instrumentals were on there.The winning of a degree may seem to bear little significance to you, and the argument that it is a safety net if you come a cropper with your music will doubtless evoke the response that a safety net is just what you don’t want. So I think the influences on Nick’s arrangements were towards the more pop end of classical, shall we say? In fact, though always quiet and introverted, he was funny, intelligent, seriously cool, deeply loved by a wide circle of often talented and eclectic friends and his wonderful and compassionate parents and sister.

And his illness was the most challenging bit to whittle down, because I wanted to convey its relentlessness and hopelessness, and I was worried that if I cut out too much of the doom and gloom, quite honestly, I might create a false idea that Nick was better than he was – because he was very, very ill. Nick Drake: The Life is the only biography of Nick to be written with the blessing and involvement of his sister and Estate. So Bryter Layter was, in a sense, what he did instead of his degree, in the expectation that it would be released in the summer of 1970. And a final thing: Joe Boyd deserves an enormous amount of credit for making sure that Nick’s records were still in print, and that a boxed set was still in print. Rodney later wrote that it was made “when Nick was getting pretty bad, and it’s rather ‘way out’, as they say”.But I think Nick was probably quite a maddening person to be involved with as a young… well, he was always young, sadly, but as a teenager, because he obviously had talents, he obviously had abilities, he was charismatic and younger people respected him at school, this was recognised, he was a good leader and so on. We don’t share your credit card details with third-party sellers, and we don’t sell your information to others. He knew that that the way forward was to find a publisher, sell the songs, find a record company, find a producer, and perform. But the hardest task in writing the book was trying to streamline the last part, because there is just a lot of relentless material in Nick’s father’s diary.

He founded Sunbeam Records, which has reissued over 100 rock, jazz and folk albums, and edits the rock history magazine Flashback . I think his parents were actually rather liberal and permissive, within parameters that were normal for that time, and they did allow Nick a lot more freedom than he might have expected or than some of his friends might have had. These cookies help provide information on metrics the number of visitors, bounce rate, traffic source, etc. Publication dates are subject to change (although this is an extremely uncommon occurrence overall).Drake died from an overdose of antidepressants in 1974, aged just 26, but since his death, his music has found new audiences as successive generations have discovered an enigmatic but immaculate body of work. The following morning Mike [Hill, usually the driver on the trip] whisked them the 370 miles to Marrakech. You see these made-up figures – ‘a combined total of 5000 sales during his lifetime’ – but no one knows what his records sold in his lifetime. 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. The family’s housekeeper, Naw Ma Naw, died in 1988 and so could not have been consulted by Morton Jack.

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. What impressed me most about how he put his book together was how he concentrated on what is most important, that is, the truth. But I fear his outcome was inevitable, based on his illness: it was eating away at him to the point where he couldn’t see any plausible future. That’s the kind of thing I tried to avoid in writing the book – trying to think myself into Nick’s head and read all the books and Romantic poems and reverse-engineer theories about where his songs came from.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? Having established that they were staying in an old French colonial hotel, La Mamounia, they went there that evening. I like the instrumental pieces on his second album, Bryter Layter, very much, but not everybody does, and Boyd wanted more songs with vocals instead. Island hadn’t accounted him properly, and I don’t blame them particularly for that – there was a degree of chaos between Witchseason and Joe Boyd and Island, and it was all being sorted out.

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