I’ve recently had on loan a copy of the new book on the English singer-songwriter Nick Drake. It’s called Nick Drake Remembered For A While, and it is one of the loveliest books I’ve ever seen dedicated to a musician.
Almost 450 pages, it is compiled by Cally Callomon and Nick’s sister Gabrielle Drake. It includes contributions from a number of writers, including people who knew Nick Drake or worked with him. There is some excellent commentary on his songs (including tips for guitarists about Nick’s altered tunings). Several famous essays are reprinted, such as Ian MacDonald’s ‘Exiled From Heaven’. Most remarkable are the lengthy extracts from Rodney Drake’s diary for the years 1971-74 charting he and Molly Drake’s struggles to help and understand their son during his long mental illness. These rivetting and disturbing extracts should do much to prevent people romanticising the more troubled aspects of Nick’s life.
There are many unpublished photographs, reproduced clippings from the music press, and other illustrations. The design and graphics are marvellous. It is a beautiful monument both to Nick’s music and to his tragic life, and contains much material for long reflection on memory, time and change.
Nick Drake Remembered For A While is published in hardback by John Murray. If you have never heard Nick Drake I would seek out his first album Five Leaves Left or go straight to the song ‘River Man’.
My ‘symphathon’ continues (more on that at the end of the month) assisted in the past week by the wonderful Sibelius performances by Simon Rattle and the Berlin Phil in London (Symphonies 5, 6 and 7 were screened on British TV’s BBC4). I’ve made a little progress with my book on the symphony.
I’m currently waiting to hear the new remastered Led Zeppelin album Physical Grafitti and its companion audio disc. I have an extended piece of writing about their 1975 Earl’s Court concerts appearing in the next issue of Dave Lewis’ magazine Tight But Loose.
A final thought, a definition: music is pure meaning without an apparent referent.
Part two of my long feature on ‘Stairway To Heaven’ is published in Dave Lewis’ long-running Zeppelin magazine Tight But Loose. You can order it from the tbl website. Dave has recently published a very detailed colour account of the band’s final tour in Europe in 1980 as the book Feather In The Wind. He is currently planning a revised second edition of his book Then As It Was on the band’s two gigs at Knebworth in August 1979. If you’re interested in Zeppelin’s music and career his books are essential.
The first part of my 10,000 article about Led Zeppelin’s ‘Stairway To Heaven’ is now available in the Zep magazine Tight But Loose. Editor and writer Dave Lewis continues to do sterling work in chronicling the band’s history and the careers of its individual members. Here’s a link: http://www.tightbutloose.co.uk