The Parts You Don’t Hear: Nick Drake

Today, Sunday 25th November 2018 marks 44 years since the death of Nick Drake. When he died he was virtually unknown but the few who knew him were wowed by his incredible guitar playing, his laconic but melodic vocal style and his unique song-writing. He made his 3 albums in the Sound Techniques, Chelsea studio, all with engineer John Wood and 2 of those with producer Joe Boyd.

The subject of Nick Drake is close to the hearts of The Parts You Don’t Hear‘s Directors Nick Turner & Neil Innes.Nick recalls first hearing Nick Drake as a teen listening to Mark Radcliffe‘s late night show on BBC radio 1 back in the mid 1990’s. Mark played Which Will from album Pink Moon and having first thought that this was a new artist, the next day Nick went to HMV to buy the album which instantly became an all time favourite. Many years later, Nick noticed that a lot of records in his music collection bared the words Recorded at Sound Techniques and Engineered by John Wood. Interest piqued and a google search later led to an article on Sound On Sound by Sound Techniques founder Geoff Frost‘s son Matt Frost. This excellent article followed by a brief email conversation with John Wood enquiring whether he was writing a book, formed the beginning of the journey for Nick and co-Director Neil Innes.

For Neil he first heard Drake’s Fly on JJJ in Australia in 1998 but never knew/heard/remembered the name of the artist or the song. It wasn’t until many years later in 2002 that it would crop up on the soundtrack to Wes Anderson‘s The Royal Tenenbaums. Neil searched for all he could find. Floored by the viola and harpsichord, which he would later find out were John Cale’s (who also made 3 solo albums at Sound Techniques, Chelsea), Neil became a die hard fan of Drake’s miracle finger picking and crazy tunings and snapped many a string retuning his old guitar attempting to play along.

These days, even given the history of British music, folk or otherwise, there isn’t a name which lands with the power of Nick Drake. We hope you enjoy this brief artist specific preview on Nick Drake that we have compiled from our interviews for the upcoming The Parts You Don’t Hear.


On November 25, 1974: Nick Drake dies, aged 26 

45 years ago on November 25, legendary singer-songwriter Nick Drake passed away, aged 26. To mark his anniversary, we’re revisiting Adrienne Murphy’s reflections on his legacy, originally published in Hot Press in 2004, following the release of Drake’s compilation album, A Treasury.

It’s thirty years since Nick Drake passed away from an overdose of anti-depressants, aged 26. At the time of his death the reclusive Drake was barely known outside a circle of devout admirers. Yet today he’s every second musician’s favourite musician. Like the poet William Blake, whose work he adored, Drake’s reputation for innovative genius only flourished posthumously.

A Treasury is a compilation of songs taken from Drake’s three albums, Five Leaves Left (1969), Bryter Layter (1970) and Pink Moon (1972), along with a couple of tracks that he recorded shortly before his death. This is deep, beautiful music that rewards repeated listening; songs that you want to learn so you can carry them in your heart. Drake’s husky, gentle voice – a balm for the soul – and intricate finger-picking guitar style have been imitated so many times they’ll be familiar to newcomers. But here is the original, with the high lyricism and musical knowledge – hear those classical string and jazzy brass arrangements! – that carry Drake’s particular brand of folk towards the celestial blue.

“I was born to use my eyes/Dream with the sun and the skies/To float away in a lifelong song/In the mists where melody flies.” Drake seems to yearn for eternity. In classic romantic poetry, he sings of mortality in a way that hints at his own demise. His songs would break your heart, but there’s a flip-side of irrepressible joy and wonder. A Treasury provides an excellent starting point from which to explore the work of this man, whose extraordinary sensitivity was both his shining star and the black dog that chased him, too young, from this world.

Source: On this day in 1974: Nick Drake dies, aged 26 | Hotpress