John Storer… .Wondered if you would consider putting up a post today, 25th, to mark the 40th anniversary of the tragic early death of one of the UK’s best ever songwriters, Nick Drake. Like almost everyone else, my only real exposure to him when he was alive were the odd tracks that appeared on Island sampler records. I really liked “Time Has Told Me” which appeared on “Nice Enough To Eat” but not enough to buy the album. Over the years, he was an artist who’s name I knew, but who’s music was not. It was not until 10 years ago, when Island released “Way To Blue: An Introduction to Nick Drake”, that the true measure of his genius became apparent to me. A friend asked me if I’d heard of him and lent me the CD. The music didn’t sound 30 years old … it sounded as fresh as a daisy. I couldn’t believe that I’d gone all that time without having heard classics such as “One Of These Things First”, “River Man”, “Black Eyed Dog” etc. Forty years on, his music still sounds like it could have been released a couple of months ago.
Whether it was suicide or an accident, his death at such a young age (he was 26) was a tragedy. Most agree that his depression was brought on by the public’s and some critics poor response to his music (his second album, the brilliant “Bryter Layter” sold less than 4,000 copies initially).
These days, his music is appreciated both here and in the States and all of his albums have achieved Gold record status. Its often a cliche, but Nick Drake truly was a man born out of his time.
Jane Hartley… Such a loss, I have only come across his music in the last few years!
Stuart Moir… There are many singer/song writers now departed who have suffered the same response to their music and yes, I agree they where obviously born too early to enjoy the fruits of their talent.
Will Cornell… As for this “Yank”, first heard him in ’78 or 9 on a cutout “Antilles Sampler” import–Antilles being an Island offshoot. The tune was “Northern Sky”. I was hooked..but…. Then his albums kind of disappeared–went out of circulation locally…until a few years later when I was an import and indie buyer for a chain and managed to nab a promo copy of the LP box set Fruit Tree–which had 4 lps–Bryter, 5 Leaves, Pink Moon and the collection of odds & ends Time of No Reply. When CDs came out I settled for the one pictured above but it wasn’t enough and got the updated CD box Fruit Tree and a further odds & ends collection Made to Love Magic which includes tunes his mother recorded. While it may not sound intriguing some patrician English housewife singing tunes she wrote accompanied on piano, think again. There are simply no wasted notes anywhere on anything this guy (or his mom!) ever did. Oh, and the DVD movie that came with the Fruit Tree CD is one of few that i’ve watched more than 1x. His sister is a real charmer and her stories are fascinating. Yet again they’ve re-issued his stuff in new form (what are they trying to do, break the record set by “Pet Sounds”?)….but rest assured: if you get a one disc comp you will eventually relegate it to the car, vacation cabin, or your outdoor woodshop, and you will end up buying everything else for the living room stereo. Another post recently asked “Which musician who died before his time would you like to have back again?” There were the usual, Jimi, SRV, Duane Allman, Jerry Garcia, etc…in other words, plenty of performers that had real fame before they died. But I put down Nick Drake…and I had more people agreeing with me. He would have been pleased with how appreciated he is now. PS: don’t know about your market over here, but Volkswagen’s ad dept is to be credited with finally breaking him here. Radio, press, other music biz types were and still pretty much are worthless when it comes to recognizing his genius.