When English singer/songwriter/musician Nick Drake tragically died in 1974 (ironically from an overdose of anti-depressant medication), he was not tremendously well-known. But in death, his hauntingly beautiful compositions have transformed him into a highly influential musical figure who’s inspired generations of musical artists.
In Remembered for a While, his sister, Gabrielle Drake (perhaps best known as the purple-haired Lt. Ellis in the cult-fave 70s British TV series, UFO), has put together a touching and beautiful anthology of all things Nick Drake.
This hefty 448-page hardbound book is not an attempt at a definitive biography, but rather an extensive scrapbook companion to the life and work of this troubled and brilliant artist. The book is full of photos, postcards, letters to/from family and friends, hand-written lyric sheets, newspaper clippings, and all sorts of other ephemera from Nick’s all-too-short life and career. There are also dozens of essays too, from Gabrielle, friends and colleagues of Nick, music critics, and others. One of my favorite sections is the brief song-by-song analysis of Nick’s three albums, Five Leaves Left, Bryter Layter, and Pink Moon.
In the book, Gabrielle Drake goes to great pains to impress upon the reader that this is not a definitive biography, even quoting Keats’ concept of “negative capability,” or the ability to live within “uncertainties, mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact or reason.” But despite that caveat, when you put all of the puzzle pieces of this book together, one is left with the most hi-res portrait of Nick Drake to date, and one that might actually be more satisfying and resonant than any straight-up bio.