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Nick Drake: The Life

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RMJ makes the point that everyone - absolutely everyone - adored him and did their best to help him, including high-profile people such as Chris Blackwell and, of course, Joe Boyd. But I fear his outcome was inevitable, based on his illness: it was eating away at him to the point where he couldn’t see any plausible future. One of the many things I learned in the book that I was not fully aware of was that, besides producing Nick Drake’s first two albums, he thought Nick’s songs could be covered by other prominent artists, some of whom I didn’t suspect.

RU: And I should add that, to try and get that difficult part of the story right, the Nick Drake Estate made Nick’s father’s diaries available.

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And I think classical music informed his sensibility easily as much as pop or rock or folk and so on. Especially because I’m writing a book on the Velvet Underground, it’s an interesting connection to me – when the 1970s start you have these areas of rock which seem separate, but there were these unusual collaborations. We don’t share your credit card details with third-party sellers, and we don’t sell your information to others.

But I can say his tastes were catholic and he liked symphonic music, he liked solo piano, he had a broad understanding and enjoyment of the canon. He knew that that the way forward was to find a publisher, sell the songs, find a record company, find a producer, and perform. RMJ: I think it speaks well for Joe that, although he strongly disagreed with Nick on the subject of the instrumentals, he ultimately did what Nick wanted, not what he wanted.

I think there were glimmers, but what Nick tended to do throughout his illness was make a resolution and then not see it through. Almost the only sort of music that I can pretty confidently say I’ve never heard anyone suggesting Nick ever liked or listened to was folk! Reading this immensely detailed and thoroughly engaging biography is something of a mixed joy for a fan like me . After interviewing them all I didn’t have to work out who to believe and how to navigate different versions of events. I mean, we all know that he was listening to classical music shortly before he took his own life that night.He did occasionally walk a neighbour’s dog, though, so that’s something, and I guess they would go down that path.

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