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Saturday, January 24, 2009

Falling Through the Cracks: Discovering Nick Drake

Falling Through the Cracks: Discovering Nick Drake

Place to Be

When I was young, younger than before
I never saw the truth hanging from the door
And now I'm older see it face to face
And now I'm older gotta get up clean the place.

And I was green, greener than the hill
Where the flowers grew and the sun shone still
Now I'm darker than the deepest sea
Just hand me down, give me a place to be.

And I was strong, strong in the sun
I thought I'd see when day is done
Now I'm weaker than the palest blue
Oh, so weak in this need for you.

Perhaps I'm the only person left on the planet who hasn't discovered Nick Drake. At least I hadn't up until January 23, 2009 that is. I hope I am the last person because everyone should already be a huge fan of this great music. If any of my friends listen to his stuff then they didn't tell me about it and they never played it when I was around. I have no idea how I could have possibly gone this long without hearing these songs. He just sort of fell through the cracks. What a shame but what a marvelous artist to have discovered at this point in my life. I feel lucky and blessed.

I was in my favorite new bookstore/café in Ruzafa, Ubik Café yesterday looking through the stacks of used books. There was music playing but it was pretty soft in the almost empty store. I didn't really notice the music until I moved to the back nearer to the speakers. This is why I know that I have never heard his music before, because I knew immediately that I was listening to something really, really good. I absolutely stopped what I was doing and listened. I asked the guy working there who we were listening to. I had to have him repeat the name because I had never heard of the singer before and the guy's pronunciation was a little off. I just shook my head, sort of pretending that I knew of him. How could I not know about a guy who puts out music like this.

As soon as I got home I looked up Nick Drake's name on Wikipedia (I'm such a fucking nerd! Someone please punch me really hard, or give me a wedgie.). I quickly glanced at his vital statistics and at first I thought he was born in 1974. Great, another young British kid burning up the charts, easy enough to get by me these days as I hardly listen to popular music. What first struck me with the song I heard was its stark, sort of hands-off production. It was just about as pure as singing gets and utterly timeless. When I corrected my mistake and saw that 1974 was the year he died I almost couldn't believe it. The fact that I had never heard of him before makes me ashamed, embarrassed, and angry all at the same time. I feel like someone who was never taught to read and walks into a library one day.

When I think back on all the complete shit masquerading as music that was shoved down my throat on FM radio in America back then, it makes me sad to think that this guy was completely ignored. What a crime. The good news in the tragic story of Nick Drake's life is that so many new listeners have so much catching up to do.