"And if one day you should see me in the crowd/Lend a hand and lift me/To your place in the cloud," Nick Drake sings dreamily against a backdrop of cello and congas. Talk about prophetic. The tragic singer-songwriter, who was only in his late 20s when he overdosed on sleeping pills, left behind an all-too-small collection of exquisite music.
"Way To Blue: An Introduction" serves both as an intro to his poignant folk music, and also as a sort of "Best of" collection. This album contains selections from his four albums "Pink Moon," "Five Leaves Left," "Bryter Layter," and "Time of No Reply," and these selections are arguably the best of Drake's bittersweet music.
Drake generally stuck to the folk sound -- lots of acoustic guitar and laid-back bass, sometimes dressed up with piano. But he twiddled with that sound in a few songs; the ethereal "Northern Sky" is swathed in organ, piano and celeste, raising it above the average folk song.
What all these songs have in common is a loneliness, a poignancy, and a beauty that is truly heartrending. Drake suffered from depression during his short life, which may explain the tone of songs like the sweet "Time of No Reply," in which he sings sadly, "The time of no reply is calling me to stay/There is no hello and no goodbye/To leave there is no way."
In other songs, Drake describes the fickleness of his fame, the loneliness of his life, and hopes to "forget this cruel world." But also seems to have a kind of optimism about love, which sounds all the more poignant in his smooth vocals. Drake's singing sounds unpolished by computers, making its husky sweetness even more striking.
Long after his death, Nick Drake's bittersweet music lingers on. "Way To Blue: An Introduction" is both an excellent collection of his best songs, and a good introduction to his work.
This is an excellent introduction to the work of Nick Drake. It also provides an entirely new perspective on his genius since the tracks are not arranged in chronological order. The individual albums are all classics but they are very much self-contained units that make one associate a particular song with the album. Way To Blue thus lends a new angle in the mix of songs. Although 10 tracks are repeated from the 1985 Heaven In A Wild Flower, the sound quality is much better.
From the album Bryter Later come Hazey Jane I and II, Poor Boy, One Of These Things First and Northern Sky. Five Leaves Left contributes Cello Sing, Way To Blue, River Man and Time Has Told Me, whilst the stark minimalist album Pink Moon supplies Things Behind The Sun, Which Will and the title track. Black Eyed Dog and Time Of No reply come from the posthumous Time Of No Reply album.
On Sweet Old World Lucinda Williams beautifully covered Which Will and Swans made a bloodcurdling version of Black Eyed Dog, found on their Various Failures album. The group Drive covered his song Road on their early 90s album Out Freakage. The Dream Academy dedicated the song Life In A Northern Town (1985) to Nick Drake. His song Mayfair had already been covered by Millie (of My Boy Lollipop fame) in 1970.
My only complaint about Way To Blue is the omission of Fly, a song that first appeared on Bryter Later and was then included, in a different version, on Time Of No Reply. In my opinion, it is one of his most moving songs. Besides that, this compilation contains the best of Drake's eerily compelling music but it is still worth it to investigate the original albums.
on February 9, 2010
I love my new Nick Drake Collection, all of it. It is healing music, the tones just seem to touch me somewhere and I feel better for it. Nick I hope you can enjoy the appreciation you are receiving post humously, you really did contribute...to a better world. Thank you. Brenda