Friday, February 17, 2006

Pink Moon, Better than Blue

Casey Dorrell

Last week I finally bought a Nick Drake album. I know, I should have a long time ago, but I've honestly never seen any for sale locally - and never thought to search him out online. I guess being forgotten or dismissed is a fitting state for him, but aside from my own ineptitude this isn't Drake's fate.

Drake, as many of you know, was a 70's musician who now sits aside most indie music of the last two decades more comfortably than with his better-remembered contemporaries. His music was often labeled as "folk" but this implies either a whimsical or political nature to a sound which was neither. Much like recently deceased cult favourite, Elliot Smith, Nick Drake wrote haunting songs of beautiful minimalism that often surprised listeners with complex instrumentation. Unlike Smith, though, Drake lived in an age before movie soundtracks and the internet made cult status a marketable commodity. Both suffered from chronic depression, both died far too young.

Since his death, Nick Drake has developed an intense cult following that borders mainstream recognition. In other words, if you're seriously into music, you know him. If you're not, you may recognize the name, if that. Drake only recorded three albums. Each was better than the previous - his clear masterpiece being his final work, the brilliant "Pink Moon", which was a solitary recording with minimal after-dubs. The album was in stark contrast to his previous albums which shared Drake's keen lyricism and brilliant songcraft but also featured a Jazz-like feel with more complex arrangements.

On November 24th of 1974, shortly after producing "Pink Moon", Drake overdosed on Anti-depressants and died. As with Cobain, as with Smith, friends and family argued that something else must have happened, explaining that Drake had been in better mental health of late.

Drake's posthumous influence is immense. Beyond directly affecting countless indie and folk artists, he's also been featured on several soundtracks in the last five years. None more important than "Garden State" which increased Drake's status among younger music fans. Replete with O.C. Sethisms and a mix of hip contemporary and classic rock music, indie kids everywhere latched onto both the movie and its music. I'm still pretty sure it was this generation's "Reality Bites". It might seem cool now, but I think we'll look back on it and realize Zack Braff was selling us a false sense of communal identity . . . and pizza. Regardless, the movie was a huge boon for both The Shins and Drake.

The latest in popular musicians who've taken their musical cues from Nick Drake is Beck. Few other artists (contemporary or otherwise) have created such an eclectic mix of music in such a short period. Despite being best known for his ability to consistently produce high quality music without ever having to retread old ground, there are still clearly threads that tie all his music together. His genre-hopping, genre-bending, antics led him to a clearly Drake influenced album with 2002's Sea Change. The minimalist approach, the string flourishes, the dark lyrics - all implied Drake. Beck's latest album, Guero, may be influenced in part by Drake, but if it is, it's certainly not obvious. Still, his interest in Drake continues, as his website recently streamed three Drake covers: "Which Will", "Parasite", and "Pink Moon".

Take the time to download the Beck cover songs and the original Nick Drake songs. If you like them, I suggest you look into purchasing "Pink Moon". I actually like "Sea Change" more, Beck being a favourite artist of mine, but there's a special appreciation for that which came first. Besides, everybody enjoys a tortured soul. At least someone else's.

Nick Drake - Which Will
Beck - Which Will (Nick Drake)
Nick Drake - Parasite
Beck - Parasite (Nick Drake)
Nick Drake - Pink Moon
Beck - Pink Moon (Nick Drake)

The End of Black Tuesday?
Introducing Beck

Comments on "Pink Moon, Better than Blue"


Anonymous Jessica said ... (17/2/06 4:20 pm) : 

HELLO. I'd just like to say that I think your blog is FUCKING WONDERFUL. It's so special it's got its own little button in my Bookmarks Bar. The themed posts are well thought-out and researched and for some reason I feel like I'm reading something... different from the other stuff that's out there. GOOD JOBBBBBBBBBBBbbb broz


Blogger Casey Dorrell said ... (17/2/06 9:42 pm) : 



Anonymous mike said ... (17/2/06 9:56 pm) : 

Reminds me that I really should give my Nick Drake Cd's a spin. Even before 'Garden State', Nick Drake's 'Northern Sky' was included on the soundtrack for the John Cusack/Kate Beckinsale romantic comedy "Serendipity" which I believe was also a big Drake booster.

As a romantic-comedy, 'Serendipity' is one of my favourites, and that scene near the end of the film, where John's laying on the outdoor roller blade rink, then the snow starts coming down, and then Nick Drake's "Northern Sky" comes on, and then ....well I won't spoil the end if you haven't seen it. But Nick Drake's song made that scene even more heartwarming.

(Man, I must sound like a wuss right now.)


Anonymous Hannah said ... (18/2/06 3:04 pm) :'s an ice skating rink.

yeah, I love that movie.


Blogger heather said ... (18/2/06 8:31 pm) : 

"O.C. Sethisms"



Blogger Casey Dorrell said ... (19/2/06 12:43 am) : 

Given the apparent falling snow, that'd make more sense. Either way, I plan on seeing the movie now.


Blogger Jennings said ... (19/2/06 1:10 pm) : 

Great post . . . .


Blogger Calum Marsh said ... (19/2/06 4:15 pm) : 

I think I prefer Way To Blue - though a case could be made for either.

Serendipity - now there's a movie people don't discuss on music blogs often enough. Very well photographed.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (22/2/06 5:01 pm) : 

brother, those beck covers aint workin'


Anonymous josh said ... (2/3/06 6:05 am) : 

As someone with a huuuge love for Nick Drake's music and guitar playing, I rate these... interesting. Certainly not bad, though. Maybe they'll grow on me.

I haven't seen anyone mention The Royal Tennenbaum's use of Fly (from Bryter Layter, though I prefer the version on Time of No Reply) during a particularly poignant scene.

There's great songs on all his records (One of These Things First and Three Hours being personal faves), but Pink Moon is really his greatest work. Nary an overwrought flute or string section on the whole thing -- it's just him, the guitar, and amazing music. So raw and wonderful.

For the Way to Blue fan, that's just a compilation that I wouldn't really recommend. Get yourself a proper album.


Blogger Casey Dorrell said ... (2/3/06 6:12 am) : 

Yeah, I didn't buy that album when I had the chance because, unless it's an artists I don't care for, I'm not a fan of compilation/greatest hits collections.

I actually don't remember Drake being in Tenebaums, which is a bit embarrasing. I'm a big fan of the movie and actually own it.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (5/3/07 6:25 am) : 

where oh where have all the trax gone?

I know I'm late to the party, but I can't hear these tracks anywhere! Lost to the internet.....

If anyone can repost the Beck covers that would be fannnntastic.




Blogger Adi said ... (24/11/09 11:47 pm) : 

Oes Tsetnoc one of the ways in which we can learn seo besides Mengembalikan Jati Diri Bangsa. By participating in the Oes Tsetnoc or Mengembalikan Jati Diri Bangsa we can improve our seo skills. To find more information about Oest Tsetnoc please visit my Oes Tsetnoc pages. And to find more information about Mengembalikan Jati Diri Bangsa please visit my Mengembalikan Jati Diri Bangsa pages. Thank you So much.
Oes Tsetnoc | Semangat Mengembalikan Jati Diri Bangsa


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (26/6/10 9:21 pm) : 

Their aegis action aswell embodies the ability of louis vuitton
. There are acutely absorbed with louis vuitton bags
, it is absolutely reasonable for those adolescent white collars to yield a appropriate adorned to Embossed Leather
, wallets and purses. So many women want to have a Embossed Patterns


post a comment