The epicness of 1972’s Pink Moon is probably less about the album itself and more about the story surrounding it. English singer-songwriter Nick Drake signed to Island Records when he was twenty years old and for the next six years was nothing but a pain in the company’s ass. A depressed and reclusive insomniac, Drake despised interviews and live performances. The three albums released during his career barely sold a handful of thousand copies. He smoked “unbelievable amounts” of weed and holed himself up in his London apartment until returning to his parents home where he lived in an incredible state of depression until overdosing on anti-depressants in 1974. Drake wouldn’t see his 27th birthday, but he also wouldn’t see the large amount of commercial success he felt his music warranted.
Over time Nick gained attention as he was cited by indie gods as an influence (see: Peter Buck, Robert Smith). His romantic depression and backstory became a stage for his music to become successful. In the glorious benefit of capitalism it was the Volkswagon commercial that included his third albums title track, “Pink Moon” which sent Nick into the ears of the mainstream.
Eerie sad story aside, Pink Moon is a delicious record from open to close. Nick Drake’s acoustic sound rings clear and bright, his leanings towards alternate tunings and cluster chords has become his signature. Along with his guitar Nick’s vocals stand out against the crowd, a deep ocean swelling and calming throughout the record. The result is gorgeous, and I can guarantee that there are certain songs on this record you will hear once and never forget.
The eleven-track, twenty-eight minute record opens with title track “Pink Moon”, possibly Drake’s most notable piece. A mix of minimal acoustic strumming and piano keys, both from Drake’s hands, “Pink Moon” is a gently mumbled lullaby. “Place To Be” is an extension of the previous track, the same whispered vocals and light strumming, this time over a poetically depressed song of yearning. “Road” is my personal pick for standout track on this album with a finger-picked riff that feels warm in your gut and only four lines of lyrics.
In “Which Will” Drake explores the lower register of his guitar and offers light and repetitive lyrics. “Horn” is a plucked instrumental track that clocks in at only a minute and a half, followed by the darker, beat heavy “Things Behind The Sun”. “Know” has a simple slide riff which repeats under notes sung somewhat meditatively. “Parasite” is a throwback to the sound of the first two tracks, while “Free Ride” is an eastern inspired track with a bit of vocal diversity from Drake. You can really hear the unnatural tuning used in “Harvest Breed” another track that falls around the minute thirty mark. The final track on the album is a magnificent closer. On one hand because it is the perfect marriage of Drake’s voice and acoustic picking, and on the other hand because lines such as “and now we rise and we are everywhere” are eerily conscious that this is the last track ever recorded by Nick Drake.