Nick Drake: Way to Blue
Most of 1994 and early 1995 was My Lonely Year. I had been laid off from yet another job, and was (barely) living off freelance work and the bookstore paycheck. Some of my favorite friends moved to other cities. Except for the Bookstar boys, I didn’t have many friends in town or much interaction with those who were left. I was depressed and lost. I did very little, other than work and read and worry that my life wouldn’t restart.
For my birthday that year, I decided to slip away for a weekend in the mountains. Now, if you know me or have read my blog long enough, you know that I believe in weeklong celebrations and adulation and constant attention (and the occasional parade) in the days leading up to and following March 25. But not that year. I was sad and depressed, and just wanted to escape my reality for a few days.
On my way out of town, I stopped to pick up new music for the drive. Joe had been raving about Way to Blue, so I bought a copy without a listen. And I fell in love by the third guitar strum in “Cello Song.” I didn’t listen to anything else as I drove around those mountain roads. It was the perfect soundtrack for that quiet weekend — melancholic, beautiful, simple. The album sounds like spring to me. Whenever I hear it, I can feel the crisp early spring air on my bare arms, see the bright greens and deep blues of the trees and sky, smell the rebirth of the earth. That weekend — and Way to Blue — brought peace to my soul, and my life changed in many ways soon after.
Within a month, I had all of Nick Drake's albums. But I always pull out Way to Blue for road trips. It’s a good sampler of his music. Nick Drake recorded between 1969 and 1972, but his songs still sound fresh. If you like singer-songwriters and great acoustic guitar — or songs for your blue, dismal days — you simply must pick up a copy this week. You’ll thank me later, I hope in my comment box.
About Nick Drake
You may not be familiar with Nick Drake, but you’ve heard his music. “Pink Moon” was used in a Volkswagen ad a few years ago — the one where the kids drive up to a party on a beautiful night, look at the sky and each other, then take off to drive into the darkness. You’ve heard him on many movie soundtracks, including Garden State and The Royal Tenenbaums, The Lake House and The Good Girl. His songs have been covered by many artists, including Lucinda Williams (“Which Will”), Robyn Hitchcock (“Pink Moon”), Beck (“Pink Moon” and “Which Will”), The Walkabouts ("Cello Song"), Kelly willis ("Time Has Told Me"), and Elton John (he recorded several Drake tunes for an early demo).
Nick Drake didn’t receive much attention for his music. He suffered from clinical depression, and he died at 26 — maybe a suicide, maybe an accidental overdose. But for a few years, he created music that was as beautiful and fragile as he was.
* * * * * *
Labels: My Soundtrack