Nick Drake is one of the most talented and under-appreciated musicians of the twentieth century. He lived his life almost unnoticed by the general public.
Drake was incredibly shy. He was unable to perform live because of this. His music was painfully beautiful, but the musician was almost pathologically shy. Because of this, his work went largely unnoticed during his life-time. It's ironic that he was discovered during one of his few live shows, by a member of Fairport Convention.
In 1969 Nick released his debut album "Five Leaves Left." (The title refers to a paper inserted in cigarette paper packages, indicating that only five leaves are left in the package.) The album features Nick, accompanied by bass, drum and occasionally strings, delivering such classics as "Way To Blue" and "River Man."
His second album, "Bryter Layter" (1970), is probably his most upbeat production, featuring some members of Fairport Convention. The beautiful song "Fly" features John Cale (formerly of the Velvet Underground).
Neither of these albums sold well, also because Nick was too shy to perform live. The lack of success resulted in the brooding depression that dominated Nick's final years.
Then, in 1972, Nick released "Pink Moon." In my eyes, this is the most beautiful folk album every created. The lyrics, the melodies, the sentiment are stripped of all embellishment, resulting in sheer perfection. "Pink Moon" is naked melancholy. This music is the final cry of loneliness from one of the greatest musicians of the twentieth century.
The years after 1972 were increasingly difficult for Nick. He was hospitalized for psychiatric problems. He continued to record songs, some of which are collected on the posthumous album "Time of No Reply." Nick was found on November 26, 1974, dead from an overdose of antidepressants. The album "Pink Moon," together with some of the tracks on "Time of No Reply," are the testament of a great songwriter.
Why is Nick Drake still relevant? Because his music is the perfect soundtrack to the pain in your life. It is beautiful, and it is lonely, and it is strong.