Nick Drake came into my life the very same time as Sandy Denny, Fairport Convention and Joe Boyd's Witch Season music mates. It was in 1987 when i lived in downtown Missoula, Montana, above what was then an antique shop and much later, after my time in Missoula, a restaurant. I was having a lot of medical problems with my ears and hearing, which required major surgery. I think the gentleness of this strand of British folk music, somewhere between the blues, jazz, folk, rock, and romantic epic colored grey with melancholy fit my situation perfectly.
Nick Drake, though, was a different sort, in another league, close cousins only of Sandy Denny. It is a myth that he was an introvert, a savant of some kind, rather he may have gone more the way of Syd Barrett and been undone by the drugs of his time. The street drugs and the prescribed ones, the psychiatric remedies that likely killed him. Psych drugs of the early 70s where stuporific and highly prone to serious side effect. In any case, his music from gentle start, through his city album, to a jazzier position through to the stark drama of his final recording, the arc of Nick Drake's short career is unparalleled in its influence and reserve. He hovers above everything, a spectre and a friendly hand lifting a person to the clouds. As often as I've played his music and learned to play some of it, his songs still grow over decades and settle on my life as strange sheets over furniture at the close of the holiday seasons; traditional and shifting, necessary and meant to make last.
This is my cover of one of his simplest songs:
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