Tuesday, April 17, 2007


It ain't Smack (Heroin). It ain't even coke or ecstacy or hash or any of them silly-sighbens. It's NICKDRAKE (Nick Drake). He died in 1974 after recording a shamelessly commercial version of Suicide Is Painless the theme song from M*A*S*H - in his parents home where he OD'd on something. But Ohhhhh my God - The Music! I've been strung out on it for two full days now and I CANNOT stop humming the "Cello Song". I just can't.


Ya see my son - who recently turned 21 is even more of an audiophile than I am His computer and iPod is jammed with the best of The Best and he lives and breathes Incredible String Band and Leonard Cohen but he also bathes in and absorbs, music from all over the world frankly, far more sophisticated than my usual buffet.

So I get challenged to top him at times, with something old that is new again and I stepped in a great big pile of that two days ago when a zephyr that may have been a Demon from Hell, whizzed by my ear and said; "nickdrakenickdrakenickdrake".

I had forgotten. He's right up there with Fred Neil, Linda Perhacs. Moffit and Davies and Ravi Shankar if I am feeling loose.

Addictive as hell. I snatched almost 40 tunes without RIAA approval and I should feel ashamed of myself about it but I don't. Not even a little bit.

Click the headline for the Best Nick Drake website I have seen so far, complete with lyrics. I'll give you a dollar if you can listen to The Cello Song twice and not hum it.

Sure I'm strung out on Nick Drake right now but undersand I DON'T WANT TO QUIT!


Fran Bennett said...

I still have the Nick Drake album with Cello Song and have listened to it alot over the years. I'm thrilled to hear there's a 21 year old walking around with Leonard Cohen on his iPod.

There IS hope!

freespeak@gmail.com said...

Just for the ya-ya's of it and to see if Jesus' face in a taco shell was REALLY worth it, I found the original Nick Drake album on eBay.

There's a BUNCH of bids on it and the auction is up to over $70.00 for the one copy with 18 hours to go.

CD's are moving at a much cheaper rate but you gotta watch the mix.. it's a generation off in the engineering. So,if you want Smack uncut in the original 1971 wrapper......... ya gotta pay the pusher.


Jimmy said...

Here's a Nick Drake playlist you can try to play (no guarantees):

Tom Wright said...

I've been listening to Nick Drake since I first heard him on KDKB ca. 1971. The music was extraordinary, but I knew next to nothing about him; British, obviously, but that was about it.

Browsing through a record store one night in the mid-to-late 1970s, I found a re-release of his first album and was dismayed to read, in the liner notes, that he'd died a few years earlier. When I stepped out onto the sidewalk, a hardware store just down the street was on fire. Barrels of turpentine were exploding into fireballs against the night sky, glass was shattering, flames were licking out of the windows, and smoke was billowing up into the sky, blotting out the stars. It was quite a sight, and a big crowd gathered across the street to watch. The fire department arrived and did their job, but the building was gutted. It seemed appropriate: a brief, intense fire in which beauty and destruction were twined around each other till there was no way, and no need, to figure out which was which.

(Reality check: this was the Mill Avenue Hardware Store in Tempe, Arizona. The building still stands on the west side of Mill between 5th and 6th streets. The two-story superstructure of brick and stone survived the fire, and the interior was eventually rebuilt, though it now houses salons and galleries instead of hardware. I believe the fire was in the spring or fall of 1976, but I'm not 100% sure about the date.)

There's a book-length biography of Nick by Patrick Humphries, imaginitively entitled "Nick Drake: the Biography." Nick also plays a prominent role in the recent book by his producer Joe Boyd ("White Bicycles: Making Music in the 1960s"). Listen to the music, read the books, and think about the cosmic joke of Nick finally becoming rich and famous when his song "Pink Moon" was used in a Volkswagen commercial 30 years after his death. Most of all, introduce your friends, families, and colleagues to Nick's music - they'll thank you, and they'll help spread the word.


freespeak@gmail.com said...

Just spoke to my son - the audiophile... he ALREADY has two Nick Drake albums on his hard drive including Bryter Layter. Yeah, so OK, he IS smart (150+ IQ).. so I figured I would trump him.

"Got a tape for ya also -- I'm out of CD's.. it's Edith Piaff". Strike two. He has SOME Edith Piaff and even Yma Sumac.

I connected with a base hit on Eartha Kitt. He's never heard of her! BUT me educating HIM on Nick Drake? He's way ahead of me and says LOTS of younger folks are, as well - partly because of the VW commercial. The one where the girl is zooming in a VW convertible dreamscape to Nick Drake singing "But while the earth sinks to its grave You sail to the sky on the crest of a wave."

THAT would grab a poet or romantic, in his most heartless moment.

Like Aunt Fran said; There IS hope!


Tom Wright said...

Never heard Edith Piaff except maybe on some movie soundtracks. But if you like Eartha Kitt, check out Nina Simone too - a wonderfully soulful singer. And is it true that Yma Sumac, marketed in the 1950s as an exotic "Incan princess", is really just "Amy Camus" from America with her name spelled backward? Most websites insist on her authenticity but then the web is, shockingly, not always authentic itself.

Finally, of note for lovers of gloomy music: Leonard Cohen's first few albums have just been re-released on CD with upgraded sound and bonus tracks! Sometimes these re-releases are a scam but the initial CDs of these albums were terribly hissy, so I'm looking forward to hearing Leonard groan and sigh in breathtaking new sound quality. Hopefully they'll also restore "The Stranger Song" to its original form - the CD version had a slight but noticeable edit that changed the whole rhythm of the song as compared to the original LP. (There's also a brutal edit on "Famous Blue Raincoat" that is audible even on the original LP, but greatly accentuated on the CD; hope they fix that too.)


Liz said...

If you google "compared to Nick Drake", appx. 12 different names will turn up in the first three pages.

A lot of the new music we play on RFP has been directly influenced by Drake.


Here's an update from muse.ie/music-ireland:

Unreleased Nick Drake material to surface
16 April 2007

Rare and never-before-heard tracks by Nick Drake will be released on new album by the late British songwriter.

Family Tree is out in Ireland on June 16 and will feature 28 tracks including rare cover versions and previously unreleased material which Drake recorded prior to the release of his debut album.

In keeping with the album's title, the record includes two songs performed by his mother, Molly, as well as a duet between Drake and his sister, Gabrielle.

A letter written by Gabrielle to her brother will also appear in Family Tree.

The tracklisting is:
Come In To The Garden
They're Leaving Me Behind
Time Piece
Poor Mum (Molly Drake)
Winter Is Gone
All My Trials (Nick and Gabrielle Drake)
Kegelstatt Trio for Clarinet, Viola and Piano (Mozart)
Strolling Down the Highway (Bert Jansch)
Paddling In Rushmere
Cocaine Blues
Been Smokin' Too Long (Robin Frederick)
Black Mountain Blues (Traditional)
Tomorrow Is A Long Time (Bob Dylan)
If You Leave Me (Dave Van Ronk)
Here Come The Blues (Jackson C. Frank)
Sketch 1
Blues Run The Game (Jackson C. Frank)
My Baby So Sweet
Milk And Honey (Jackson C. Frank)
Bird Flew By
Strange Meeting II
Day Is Done
Come Into The Garden
Way To Blue
Do You Ever Remember? (Molly Drake)

In other Nick Drake new, a box set entitled the Fruit Tree Box Set is scheduled for release later this year and will contain Drake's three original studio albums, a new book, and a DVD documentary.

Anonymous said...

Back in 1969, shortly after starting up the KRUX Underground radio show, the Five Leaves Left album appeared (to my amazement). Something magical about this "Sound", unlike anything I had ever heard before. For me, it brought Tim Buckley to mind .
Cello Song and Three Hours were my preferred choices.
At that time, my mother was working for David Geffen as his live-in housekeeper/gopher and I mentioned to her that she must introduce Geffen to this magical new artist. Turns out, Geffen already knew of him...
The song "Black-Eyed Dog" is said to be his last recording .

Ray Thomson

Tom Wright said...

Tim Buckley... another good one that got away. Tim Hardin, too.

Tim Buckley played in Scottsdale, at Balcony Hall, in 1975 and it was broadcast live on KDKB. I did not attend or tape the show - I think I was out of town that week (or weekend, as the case may be) but I was definitely a fan. Any blog readers out there remember that show (or have a tape of it)? He also did a fairly belligerent interview with "New Times" while he was in town; I still have a copy of that, somewhere in my voluminous files. He died just a few weeks later. He is said to have "cleaned up" for his tours, but in this case when he got home he either overdid it, or used some unusually pure stuff, and it killed him. What a waste. There are a few clips of him on Youtube, including his appearance on "The Monkees" (Mickey Dolenz was a fan).

His son Jeff was also uniquely gifted and also came to an early end. I saw him here in Tempe in 1994, at the Valley Art Theater, which was trying to convert itself to a music venue at the time. The sound system sucked and there were maybe 20 people in the audience, but it was still a remarkable show.


Mariah Fleming said...

That's an interesting story about Geffen and Drake and your ties to that. I started listening to and playing Nick Drake's music when I was about 18 or 19. My favorite song is
"One of These Things First."

My dream concert of British male poet/singers would consist of Nick Drake, Richard Thompson and John Martyn.

Did you know that a Nick Drake song is used in the film "Garden State"? Gave me chills. Fits the film to a 't'

Good hearing from you on the blog.
We are the fortunate heirs of YOUR decision to start doing the 'KRUX Underground'...and the rest is history. Thank you, Ray, you are an unsung radio hero in my book.