I must confess to having been unfamiliar with the folk music of Nick Drake before seeing him mentioned in Phil Rickman’s novel The Wine of Angels. (Reviewed in the Print section of this blog.) Indeed, just to show you my complete ignorance I wasn’t sure whether or not he was one of the writer’s fictional characters. Although in fairness that’s a tribute to how deftly Rickman weaves the fictional and the actual together in his books.
Drake seems to have been a profoundly unhappy man. He never got very far in his musical career due to his depression and crippling shyness. Certainly he hampered himself by not wanting to play live and to never being interviewed. It also seems that no photographs exist of him as an adult, so that he lives for fans now only as a perpetually young man. That kind of thing is unhealthily attractive to a certain type of fan, unfortunately.
Drake overdosed on anti-depressants in 1974 and has since been rediscovered and hailed as an outstanding artist. Indeed, before his own death through an overdose the actor Heath Ledger spoke of his ‘obsession’ with Drake and had done a video for Black Eyed Dog, one of Drake’s compositions. The Black Dog was of course how Winston Churchill famously described his depression.
I’m not going to play that one here. In fact a lot of Drake’s music is a bit too downbeat for me. This one is lovely, though. It’s called ‘Cello Song.