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Nick Drake - Five Leaves Left

  by Peter Liddle

published: 20 / 1 / 2002



Nick Drake - Five Leaves Left
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intro

It's strange that this album was made in 1969. It still rivals pretty much any acoustic album out there, and though Nick Drake's songs might not be the most well-known, you'll recognise the style and poetry because popular music seems to have embraced wha


It's strange that this album was made in 1969. It still rivals pretty much any acoustic album out there, and though Nick Drake's songs might not be the most well-known, you'll recognise the style and poetry because popular music seems to have embraced what Drake started. Quiet, reflective, but at the same time disturbingly prophetic, Drake's debut album 'Five Leaves Left' is a perfect introduction to a perfect songwriter. Nick Drake's life resembles many a great rock star, but a rock star he was not. His not-so-unique version of folk music didn't exactly shift many units when he was alive, but Drake's music went on to influence and inspire and is still doing so (see Coldplay, Turin Brakes, Elbow ). Songs about insecurity, paranoia, heartbreak, love, fame, and drugs were all hidden under Drake's perfect English accent and wonderous guitar playing. From the lazy rhythms of opener 'Time Has Told Me' to the upbeat and mysterious "'Cello song' to the quiet sadness of 'Fruit Tree' it becomes apparent that as well as being a superb guitar player and singer, Nick Drake has things to say. Lyrics about the sea, wind, time, and journeys made dominatemuch of the album, but the story between the lines of most songs seems to be a personal one. Saying this, as Drake's life (and a descent into depression and misery) progressed, his songs became more introverted and (to Drake himself) disturbingly personal, to the point where his last material had to be recorded in seperate tries because Drake was too distressed to play and sing. Still, at this early stage, he knew that he would discover more about himself through this music, if not that it would contribute to his depression. The songs reveal a man stuck between desire to succeed, desire to be alone, and the feeling that he can't change the path of history. In 'Time has told me' he reveals "There's really no way of ending your troubles with things you can say." In 'Fruit Tree' he ends with "They'll all know, That you were here when you're gone." - did Drake realise at this early stage people would only notice what he'd been trying to say when he couldn't say any more? It's hard to write what I think this album means because its content is influcenced by many different things - Drake's songs take lines from poems he read at university and books, as well as documenting thoughts of friends and places and events. Reading the lyrics, it's easy to assume that many of the songs are about Nick Drake himself. To the end, the songs remain a testament to his poetic capabilities - he manages to suggest his own death (a debate still rages as to whether he commited suicide, mistakenly overdosed or went out of control) and the subsequent interest in his music. In 'Fruit Tree', Drake tells us "Safe in your place deep in the earth/That's when they'll know what you were really worth." After listening to this album, you might feel like you've heard part of a story, and are probably left wondering what it all means. It's a thinking album, and the songs themselves ponder their own content, and context, and seem to still question what they are asking. But the lyrics are not vague, just, without using the word as it might be used to describe a "rock classic", timeless. Nick Drake showed the world how genius and madness could go hand in hand wrapped in quiet, calm music. His style, seemingly uninventive in its day, is still copied and adapted by artists to this day. He laid down the blueprint of the modern musical (dead) icon, and all in all he gave the world wonderfully beautiful and haunting music.



Track Listing:-


Picture Gallery:-
Nick Drake - Five Leaves Left


Nick Drake - Five Leaves Left



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