Music Stunt 2009

Stunt 2009: Week 20 – Nick Drake

*This is a companion piece to a similarly-themed article on Karen’s site which, all things being equal, should be published at roughly the same time.*

1. **Hazey Jane II** from Bryter Later – the only thing I knew about Nick Drake was that he committed suicide by overdosing on antidepressants at the age of 26, so I was expecting something incredibly dark and brooding. Imagine my surprise when presented with this song, which sounds exactly like Belle and Sebastian, which is not a band that I associate with moodiness. It must have something to do with the jangly guitars, trumpet and skippity drums.

2. **Poor Boy** from Bryter Later – it wasn’t until I looked up the lyrics that I realised that the female vocalists weren’t singing “a bubble” but actually “oh, poor boy.” How can those two phrases sound anything like each other? Having got that very important message out of the way, this is a fairly pleasant bossa nova song with a sax solo. I like the way that Mr Drake’s voice fits this song.

3. **Cello Song** from Five Leaves Left – found this fairly dull actually, it doesn’t seem to reflect Nick Drake’s status as a renowned songwriter.

4. **At The Chime Of A City Clock** from Bryter Later – another song with a latin feel to it. Especially nice chorus, I like the bass and the violin in it. Another thing you notice when listening to this song is how dynamic Nick Drake’s songs are – he was evidently strongly opposed to excessive use of compression – the quiet bits are actually quiet. It’s something of a shame that this is worthy of remark.

5. **Sunday** from Bryter Later – this one’s the instrumental. It’s got lots of flute in it. Apparently my son is going to be a flautist, according to Karen’s mum. Something to do with the way he purses his lips. For this same reason, I think he’s going to be a professional raspberry-blower. His raspberries used to be quite subtle, but these days they’re very wet and very in-your-face. That’s not the way you play a flute, boy.

6. **Way To Blue** from Five Leaves Left – big strings. I have to confess, I found the lyrics to this song to be painfully hackneyed.

7. **I Was Made To Love Magic** from Time Of No Reply – conversely, I found the lyrics to this one to be quite interesting. Nick Drake confesses (not that he really needed to) that he can’t cope with people, but finds love in music. Are all the best songwriters depressed? Discuss.

8. **Strange Meeting II** from Time Of No Reply – a fairly miserable song that doesn’t do much for me. That said, I’ve barely listened to the lyrics, so I feel like I’m only reviewing half a song, if that. But, you know, that’s just the way that my brain works. If a song sounds interesting, I listen to the lyrics. If it doesn’t, then I allow my mind to wander. I could change, if I really wanted to.

9. **One Of These Things First** from Bryter Later – another song that shows me exactly how unoriginal Belle & Sebastian are. My whole world has been turned on its end. I can’t possibly review this song.

10. **Northern Sky** from Bryter Later – I’m very keen on this song, especially the way that the crescendo rises out of the instrumental. It’s a really nice love song, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s the only love song that he ever wrote.

So, in conclusion: a mixed bag, but I’m glad that the playlist was selected by the Randomonominator, as Nick Drake is one of those artists that I probably should have exposed myself to sooner.

The next week’s playlist

We’ve decided that for the next few weeks, we’re going to change the format slightly. There’s a very good reason for this – we’ve got our tickets for the Green Man festival at the end of August, and so we’re going to use the stunt as a way of researching the various acts that will be playing. We’ll be using this Spotify playlist for material, but for the first week, we’re going to be listening to, and critiquing, Jarvis Cocker’s new album, *Further Complications*.