Squawk Radio

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Liz Brings You a Late Music Blog with Music for a Late Night

You remember that Volkswagen commercial a while back that had two young couples driving in a convertible under a star-splashed sky to a party, and there was this really haunting acoustic guitar and male voice playing and singing in the background? And the night drive is so peaceful and beautiful that when the two couples get to the party, they all look at each other without saying a word and make a silent, mutual agreement to just keep on driving? So they do? And the night becomes transcendent? Remember that? Wasn’t it a great commercial?

Thank Nick Drake.

It’s his song, “Pink Moon,” from the album of the same name, playing in the background, making the beautiful, peaceful night drive so transcendent. His music has the ability to do that for just about any occasion. Unfortunately, his was a brief musical career. He only recorded three full albums before dying at the age of 26 of an overdose of anti-depressants that was most likely accidental--but maybe not. Yet in that brief musical career, Nick Drake created magic.

“Pink Moon” is a collection of songs that make you stop whatever you’re doing, sit down, and listen to them. And when you do, you’re filled with peace and contentment. Which is weird, because the lyrics are filled with despair and yearning. Using only his guitar and his voice, Drake made music with a sound unlike any other. iTunes classifies it as folk, but there’s more soul and depth to his music than that label implies. (No offense meant to folk artists, truly.) And there’s a raw sort of emotion on “Pink Moon” that will break your heart, even as the music warms you.

The album itself is short--only about a half-hour long--but oh, what a sadly, desperately beautiful thing it is. By the time Drake recorded it, he was suffering from a depression so profound that it prevented him from performing live. It almost prevented him from leaving home. It’s said he recorded ”Pink Moon” while facing the wall and with almost no conversation with anyone else in the studio because that was the only way he could manage to get the music out of himself. Two days. That was all the time it took to complete a... What's the phrase I'm looking for? A heartbreaking work of staggering genius. And as you listen, you can almost feel what it cost Drake to do it.

I had a college professor who insisted a person’s life was meaningless unless that person left something behind after his or her death that made the world a better place. Nick Drake’s life may have been short, and his musical legacy may be a fraction of what many other muscians will be able to boast by the end of their lives. But the music he made while alive... Well. As legacies go, his is a doozy.

We should all be so lucky.
Elizabeth Bevarly, 8:56 PM