Friday, December 29, 2017

Either Weird Or Lonely

T he last weekend of 2017 is here and it's cold, it has been cold for days now and it slaps me in the face every morning stepping out to start the day. I have found time for what will probably be my last blog post of this year and so I'm sitting here with my coffee ready to write.

Last weekend, which was Christmas weekend, I finished reading a biography of one of my favorite singer/songwriters and that is Nick Drake. I fell in love with Nick's music about fifteen years ago and I can't even remember how I first heard his voice now which is a shame.

Nick again was one of those troubled souls that suffered from depression or a more significant mental disorder perhaps schizophrenia and ultimately he overdosed in a likely suicide in 1974 at the age of twenty-six. He died having only completely finishing three albums of music and never experiencing fortune or fame. His music wouldn't be well-received and become even remotely popular until well after his death. I still wouldn't consider him that famous or well known except for those with cultivated musical tastes that stray from the mainstream of music. However once you discover Nick's soothing voice, fantastic acoustic guitar playing and poignant lyrics that draw from nature and conjure up images of the English countryside you realize you have found someone special.

Going into reading Nick Drake : The Biography by Patrick Humphries (1998) I knew to expect a sad tale and Nick's life was just that especially in the last four years of his life in London and then back at his parent's house in Tanworth-in-Arden. I did learn from reading the book that Nick was a mostly well adjusted child at boarding school and he even played sports and this is when he became more interested in performing music. He would go to college in Cambridge and this is where he became more interested in drugs, especially marijuana, and somewhere at this point in his life he began to slowly pull away into his own world. He would leave Cambridge with a year left to complete his degree to go record his first album and live in London.

In London with a recording contract with Island Records he put out three albums and had recorded four tracks for another album before he died. Nick developed a fear of performing live on stage and touring to support his music so none of his albums were promoted and sold well in his lifetime. Nick was a paradox in that he wanted recognition but he didn't want or couldn't do the touring that would have helped him achieve his dreams.

Nick's mental problems grew in London and he became so detached over time that he wouldn't wash, would sit and stare at walls, would hardly speak and was living in a world that was wholly contained within his head. Yet, despite all that he was a perfectionist on the guitar had a smooth velvety voice and could write fascinating songs.

The book went through Nick's life with a fine tooth comb despite not having the assistance of his existing family members to flush out some of the details. There are many repetitious passages in the book which were obvious moments of filler but I did appreciate all the insight provided into the recording sessions and interviews with most of the people that worked with or were friends with Nick. Overall, I thought the book was a great read.

If you've never heard the magic of Nick Drake you should give him a try.

One last note about Nick and his personal life which included no known lovers male or female, I suspect that he was deep in the closet. I think Nick was gay in deep denial and that was part of his mental problems. If you look at photos of him he was very fashionable, aloof, incredibly handsome and he was known to be incredibly sensitive. Somewhere out there whether in his trips to France or Morocco some guy has a Nick Drake sexual story to share. Even one of the few women that was close to Nick in London and admitted to fumbling around with him thinks that he was gay. I'm not alone in thinking Nick was gay as many have speculated such and it is even discussed a few times in his biography. Whether he was gay or not I still love his music and wish he had had a much longer and better life than he did.