July 02, 2013

Nick Drake - Which Will (1972)

Nick Drake was born June 19, 1948 in Rangoon, Burma, but was raised and lived in Berkshire, England. His mother taught him to play piano and write songs, ultimately influencing his style and voice. As for schooling, Drake attended the same school in Wiltshire, England which his father, grandfather, and great-grandfather had all attended. While enrolled, Drake ran track and set a school record for the 100-yard dash, a record that stood for decades before being broken. He went entirely unnoticed by others, with old classmates often claiming they knew very little about him. Around 1964 or 1965, he started a band known as The Perfumed Gardeners. By 1967, Drake was continuing his education in France, traveling to Morocco with friends in his free time to indulge in marijuana and hallucinogenic drugs. Eventually, Drake enrolled at Cambridge University, but had more interest in drugs and music than in making friends or his academics. He began performing songs locally at coffee houses and clubs, but failed to impress his audience, whom he never interacted or made eye contact with. Luckily for Drake, he was discovered by Ashley Hutchings (of Fairport Convention) who thought there was a talent in Drake. This connection led to Drake landing a record deal.

In 1968, as a professional twenty year old singer-songwriter, Drake thought he had found his big break and dropped out of Cambridge nine months before graduation. From 1969 until 1972, he put out three albums. The first album, Five Leaves Left, was a collection of baroque folk that failed to sell well; so, in an effort to “go mainstream,” Drake’s second album, Bryter Layter, featured more instrumentation and pop production. Unfortunately, this album, too, sold less than a few thousand copies and Drake became even more withdrawn from those around him. Drake decided to record his third album entirely by himself with just his acoustic guitar, sans one piano overdub. Drake's record company didn't even know about the album, titled Pink Moon, until it had already been recorded. Unfortunately, the album sold worse than his first two and Drake, further depressed with his lack of success, quit the music business.

In the years to come, Drake was described by family and friends as extremely distant. He had been visiting a psychiatrist, would disappear for days at a time, had difficulty sleeping, and suffered a mental breakdown, hospitalizing him for five weeks. Finally, in November 1974, Nick Drake’s mother found her son in his bed, next to a bottle of antidepressants, dead. As cruel fate would have it, Drake's work eventually reached the popularity he sought in the 1980s, posthumously. He was cited as a major influence to members of R.E.M. and The Cure, with the latter having chosen their band name from one of Drake’s song’s lyrics. All three of Drake’s albums are now on Rolling Stone magazine’s “500 Greatest Albums of All Time” list.

Written and composed by Nick Drake, this song was included on Drake’s last album, Pink Moon. With the exception of the title song which featured some piano work by Drake, the entire album was composed entirely of Nick Drake’s voice and acoustic guitar playing. The album was recorded in two separate two-hour sessions, each at midnight, in October 1971. The album itself was released in February 1972 and has been described as Nick Drake’s purest work.

album art

Nick Drake - Which Will (1972)

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Which will you go for?
Which will you love?
Which will you choose from-
From the stars above?
Which will you answer?
Which will you call?
Which will you take for-
For your one and all?
And tell me now
Which will you love the best?

Which do you dance for?
Which makes you shine?
Which will you choose now
If you won't choose mine?
Which will you hope for?
Which can it be?
Which will you take now
If you won't take me?
And tell me now
Which will you love the best?

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