Monday, February 27, 2012
40 Years Ago This Week: Nick Drake's Pink Moon Released
Nick Drake's third and final album is composed of eleven starkly-worded, starkly-arranged songs recorded in two nights. Producer John Wood recalls Drake sitting in front of the microphone and playing, his guitar and breathy upfront vocals creating the mood for eleven bleak songs. Consider "Parasite":
'Take a look you may see me on the ground/
For I am the parasite of this town.
The man who gave Drake a recording contract, Joe Boyd calls Pink Moon "a record of quiet desperation". Drake would die two years later at the age of 26 from an overdose of antidepressants.
There are thousands of people who have listened to Pink Moon more than I have. Like Beatles fanatics who've discovered clues on the cover of Abbey Road, Drake fans have read an awful lot into unsettling lyrics like those of "Road":
You can say the sun is shining if you really want to/
I can see the moon and it seems so clear
Friends say Drake became more distant in his final years. Every so often he'd show up at John Martyn's house where his wife Beverley would try to play hostess:
He would just come and spend the day or the night. I would make up a bed for him. You just had to let him do what he wanted, really, which was often to play the same album over and over again - or look out the window with a cup of tea in his hands for four hours.'
With no tour or interviews to promote the album, Pink Moon sold about five thousand copies in Drake's lifetime. Far fewer than his other two records. In his case not even death produced album sales. It took a Volkswagen ad's use of "Pink Moon" in 2000 to bring to the public's attention the music and myths of this troubled soul.