Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Best Band Ever*

*according to me, at this moment, subject to change

I hadn't planned on doing this today. Last night I was inspired by a documentary about transgendered filipinos living in Israel and working as caregivers for elderly Orthodox Jewish men, Bubot Niyar (or Paper Dolls) and so I was thinking about spotlighting a gorgeous transsexual Israel pop star, Dana International, but too be honest I couldn't pull that off at this point in the morning (way too intense and poppy) and plus with my strong desire to not have to wake up this morning, my thoughts(about the nature of dying in one's sleep; what do they die of? if it's a heart attack or something shouldn't they feel that pain and wake up?) and the grey clouds in an October sky my mind sort of naturally went to something more folksy and earthy and, admittedly more depressing which was not what I wanted to dwell on this morning but it happens. And so Nick Drake is the Best Band Ever.*

I guess I first heard of Nick Drake, maybe around the time Practical Magic came out, which was around the advent of Napster, which coincided with a bit o' the ol' teenage depression, and I'm not sure how it came to me, how I discovered it but somehow I learned that Black Eyed Dog was supposedly one of the last songs written by a suicidal musician, with the dog being a metaphor for I guess Death. Needless to say at that point I was hooked and I started researching a little more about Nick Drake, as I tend to do in such matters, and I learned about how during his short life he was kind of overlooked and underappreciated leading a life of such shyness and inner turmoil that he couldn't perform live and died alone but then after his death his popularity and influenced spread, which kind of seemed like the quintessential cliched artist's life. I probably didn't listen to him for a few years after I left my depressed pseudo-artistic phase but over the past few years I've started reconnecting, not for the morbidness of his demise and the fascination with a tortured soul but rather just how damn good and true his songs were. I think i've said a few times that to me there are few things truer than a person and their guitar and Nick is an example of that. His voice has been called fragile and delicate and all that (i like to think of it as ethereal because that's my favorite word) but it's true and he is one of those people that I don't think were meant to live a long life, to be 60 and still playing guitar- with age and experience comes a kind of coarsening of the spirit or a tapping down and normalizing of beauty that is truth (if that makes any sense, which it probably doesn't.)
I think I really respect that he hated to perform live and give interviews, which I know had to do with his intensely withdrawn nature and yada but I like to think that anything he wanted to or needed to say he tried to say in his music. To not have the meanings of the songs be corrupted by appearances or context or thoughts about the artist as a person but rather to have them stands as a testament. All that being said it is very difficult to find video on him (though if you go on youtube you can see by the scores of self made amateur videos or cover versions, the enduring and growing popularity the accessibility of his songs and the universality of his feelings, which he probably thought he felt alone) but here are a few good ones of songs I love (and yeah must of them can be thought of as relating to death and depression. if you need me to hold your hand through it just shoot an email)
River Man

River Man (mp3)

Day is Done

Day is Done (mp3)


Fly (mp3)

Those are just a few but I couldn't find anything worthy for my favorite songs of his, including what has become a surrogate theme song for me Magic, which is the most wonderful song in the world

I was born to love no one
No one to love me
Only the wind in the long green grass
The frost in a broken tree.
I was made to love magic
All its wonder to know
But you all lost that magic
Many many years ago.
I was born to use my eyes
Dream with the sun and the skies
To float away in a lifelong song
In the mist where melody flies.
I was made to love magic...
I was born to sail away
Into a land of forever
Not to be tied to an old stone grave
In your land of never.
I was made to love magic...

[Magic (mp3)]

Now his music is so ubiquitous in commercials or being covered by pop artist, or being featured in movies that Zach Braff ruins, that even if you don't kn ow who he is, you know him. In fact I think he can actually be called a pop cult artist, or that artist that people who would never listen to the radio, all seem to know and worship.and so for all the above reasons and the fact that his songs remind me of English countrysides I've never visited and the wind, Nick Drake is the Best Band Ever.*

(aren't you glad i didn't subject you to this today?)

And for the good of everyone here are a few more of my favorites:
Black Eyed Dog (mp3)
One of These Things First (mp3)
Things Behind the Sun (mp3)
Time Has Told Me (mp3)
Elton John-Day is Done (mp3)
Charlie Hunter featuring Norah Jones-Day is Done (mp3)

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