April 24, 2008

More thoughts on Nick Drake: the other day I stepped into This Ain’t The Rosedale Library on Church St to check out their giant moving sale as they prepare to change locations. I heard a familiar sounding voice singing a very contemporary sounding tune. It was Nick Drake, of course, though I don’t know which song it was. It struck me that here was a singer-songwriter who has been dead for more than 33 years, yet sounding as contemporary as anybody these days. How is it music stylists are only now producing music similar to what Drake recorded in the late-60s and early-70s? Did his style single-handedly influence so many musicians of today or was he simply ahead of a curve whose time has come? Certainly when I hear bands like Radiohead I hear Drake, but I hear him in other people, too. People like Kate Bush, Jeff Buckley and James Blunt. Since watching the documentary last week, his voice has stayed with me. It’s another aspect of his uniqueness. The closest I can come to defining it is to say it’s like the sound of air blown over the mouth of a pop bottle. Ethereal, haunting, unearthly. Drake’s lyrics I’m even less familiar with, but his album titles—Five Leaves Left, Layter Bryter, and Pink Moon—remind me of the title of some of Sylvia Plath’s poems. Dense, oblique and thoughtful. As though their depression had shaped their literary thought in similar ways.

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