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2023 Albums Thing 115 - Nick Drake “Pink Moon”

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This was the first of Nick Drake’s albums I heard, and it remains my favourite of his. Legend has it that these songs were demo’s that Drake left at the record company offices in a plastic bag without saying a word, but I’m gonna let he truth spoil a good story. Drake had previously told his producer, Joe Boyd, that he wanted his next album to be just him and his guitar and he wanted to record it with Boyd’s engineer John Wood. He and Wood recorded “Pink Moon” in just two consecutive late night sessions in late October 1971. Once finished, Drake personally delivered the masters to Island Records boss Chris Blackwell. The singer was said to be incredibly proud of it.

If I thought “Five Leaves Left” was a very intimate feeling recording this one really feels like you’re sitting in the room with the performer. Drake is the only person heard on the record, his voice, his guitar and a piano overdub on the opening title song. You can hear his fingers fretting the strings, his nails picking at them, you can hear the strings slapping on the fretboard when he pulls them a little too hard, you can hear him breathing. The whole atmosphere is close and personal. The songs are short (or do I mean concise ?), 8 of the 11 songs don’t reach 3 minutes, the whole album runs to less than 30 minutes. Engineer John Wood said of “Pink Moon” that it was "just about right. You really wouldn't want it to be any longer.”. It’s breathtaking. From my first listen I was transfixed by it.

Island had been reluctant to release another Nick Drake album as the sales of the previous two had been so poor. But this album did get a release and was his only contemporary release in the US. “Pink Moon” was released in February 1972. An Island Records press advert said of it "Pink Moon—Nick Drake's latest album: the first we heard of it was when it was finished.”. Once again Drake refused to tour to promote it. Legendary Island A&R manager Muff Winwood was reported as tearing his hair out in frustration and said that had Drake not had (Island owner) Chris Blackwell's fulsome support "the rest of us would have given him the boot”. It sold much less than his previous 2 albums.

After delivering the tapes to Island Nick Drake retreated to his parents home, Far Leys in Tanworth-in-Arden, and all but retired from music. He even considered joining the army ! Just over 2 years later he was gone having sunk into depression and, some say, having “given up on life”. 

Road - https://youtu.be/jpk32L8Bb4c

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