Friday, January 11, 2008

No. 320: Pink Moon


Band: Nick Drake
Album: Pink Moon
Why Rolling Stone gets it right: Drake's final album is his darkest and most sparse. He sings of death, alienation and sadness. The album was recorded over two two-hour sessions that began at midnight and contains his most touching work.
Why Rolling Stone gets it wrong: For some reason, I just don't love Nick Drake.
Best song: "Parasite" is excellent, as is "Know."
Worst song: I don't really like "Who Will."
Is it awesome?: Sure.

I haven't written a lot on Nick Drake, mostly because I am not the world's biggest fan.

A commentor, Roger, was disappointed in my not writing more about Drake's "Five Leaves Left."

He's right. I didn't do my duty as a reviewer. If I don't really like something, I should at least explain why and talk about the music a little.

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And, on some level, Roger is going to be disappointed. I've listened to "Pink Moon" about 10 times in the last week (it's a pretty short album) and I still don't love it. I'm trying to force Stockholm Syndrome on myself, but it hasn't taken as well as I thought it would.

Roger mentions my love for Iron & Wine and Elliott Smith as reasons for the confusion as to my non-love of Drake. He's absolutely right. By all accounts, I should love Drake, but I don't.

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One auxiliary benefit of doing this project is thinking more about why I like certain music. I try to think objectively about all this stuff and included in that is trying to eliminate all the "whatever, I like it because it's good" thinking.

This, of course, is impossible. As I've mentioned in my "Damn the Torpedoes" piece "derivative" and "showing its influences" are basically the same thing, yet one is an insult and the other a compliment. This stuff is very nebulous.

But, as shown with Petty -- the anti-Drake in that he's an artist tailor-made for me yto dislike -- I saw Petty as an early adolescent and was hooked.

The music that Nick Drake influence came to me at times when I was particularly open to that music. I first saw Iron & Wine (I didn't like his first record, by the way) live at a Sub Pop showcase hosted by David Cross at my first CMJ Music Marathon. The show was one of many of the trip's highlights. I started listening to Elliott Smith because I was amenable to being an emotional 16-year-old.

So.. Who's to say that I wouldn't have loved Nick Drake if his music was originally presented to me the same way instead of first seeing a VW ad with "Pink Moon?"

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There's a lot to love on "Pink Moon," however. "Parasite" -- a song I came to because Archer Prewitt covered it for a Drake tribute album -- is a brilliantly depressing song using an awesome metaphor. The title track is touching, though I can't really get the picture of a Volkswagen out of my head. "Free Ride" is awesome and you can see the influence on Archer Prewitt in a song like "Know."

But, for some reason, it took 10 listens for me to appreciate all this about "Pink Moon." I can't really explain why. Maybe I'm at a time in my life where whispery vocalled acoustic guitar stuff doesn't resonate. Maybe I am just contrarian and I'm pushing against the 10 years of "Hey, you should really like Nick Drake."

1 comment:

Roger said...

Well, actually, I'm not so disappointed. What you say about the way you were introduced to the artist makes a lot of sense.

I got into Nick Drake because I loved the Swans cover of "Black-Eyed Dog"; and then I heard Gomez cover it in concert, and decided to look up Nick Drake myself. (Interesting to me: The Gomez cover, I think, sounded a lot more like the Swans version, which is *really* different from the original.)

I find it can be really hard to like someone you're listening to because you know they're supposed to be important or good or whatever. Hell, I can't even get into Mozart for pretty much this reason. But that's just me.