Review Summary: Nick Drake stayed up all night on this one.
It is so clear to me that Nick Drake suffered greatly from insomnia. Simply listening to his music triggers the thought in my mind, that relative process in which one goes through as one breaks down the situation and sees that the subject has something almost scarily in common with you. At that point it was easy to know Drake's suffering, as expressed on Pink Moon
so elegantly. The barren acoustic setting sails listeners through the issue of Drake's life, his natural influence, and into the sweaty, painful and withering hours of the dank, silent morning. Nick's mother was quoted stating he wrote his 'nicest melodies' in the early morning hours. The entirety of Pink Moon
carries a summer-like feel to it, as though all of the songs are being played at dawn on a warm august day. The decision to eliminate any other musical instrument aside from Nick's acoustic guitar creates a unique vision in the mind of the listener, which is not as typical as one may think...the sole-artist, sitting alone with a guitar painting isn't hanging here. Rather, Nick sits in the middle of the room, decorated by the glimmering watchful eyes of his recording engineer, singing as he shoe gazes his own feet and thinks of nothing. As it appeared in his everyday life, Nick Drake seemingly incorporated his shady lifestyle into this record, perhaps being the artist playing games with those around and about him. His silent escapes to friend's homes, without speaking a word to them as he slept there, and ate there, and smoked pot there. Also, the touched-up, fully mixed version of Pink Moon
on tape, being left by Nick Drake himself on the front lobby desk of Island records for a couple days before being noticed, and finally manufactured as an actual album. Pink Moon sounds like Nick believed he could do whatever he wished with his songs, and crafted them to shape his thought process, his mind's issues, and his insomniac style of writing music. The entirely quiet setting of Pink Moon
is the musical energy at it's highest point for Nick Drake, the reason the music
comes off as mostly average.
The songs are of a haunting, post-humous quality. This is the kind of music that can only be written by one who is either dying, or beginning to live, or just realizing the former. It is a record of unbelievable potential. But my relationship with the songs is a bit faulty, because of the record's occasional habit of moving from something quite interesting and ahead of it's time, to generic folk. For example, when the album begins with the title track it envelopes the listener in an invigorating grasp of loneliness and determination on Drake's part, and as the piano starts it's pleasantly loving progression 'Pink Moon' becomes a defining track on the album. And then, as quickly as it came the artful generosity dissipates into 'Place to Be', which is a boring, repetitive folk tune. The guitar is thin and lost, however pretty it comes off as. Nick's lyrics are good as usual, but words have never completely saved a song. There is a major difference between pretty and 'beautiful', though. The latter is more relative to 'Pink Moon' than it is anything else currently in question. It's now very easy to describe the song to me as 'opinion', and it's also easy to say 'ghastly', and 'barren'. However I'm not disregarding the emotional credibility of this song entirely. The emotion is here, but the expression is all wrong - at that point of the record, only the second song, Nick Drake enters a gradual decline that eventually leads to: 8 o'clock in the morning. But right now it’s still about 2. For 'Road', Drake is halfway back on his stool. The melody is great, and simultaneously, the atmosphere is 'Place to Be'. Cloudy, imperfect, but still that fine, natural guitar and vocal combination that saves the track and places it on a different level than its predecessor.
Nick’s habit of omitting experimentation outside of the bare bones of his music on this album draws a fork in the road. At this particular fork, the listener is driven to make a love or hate decision about whether or not they are willing to hear Nick ramble off for a minute or so, in an insomniac tradition. The album sounds like Drake speaking to himself in an attempt to make someone in the other room hear him, but at the same time leave him quite alone. This is an album where the core is the entirety, so the enjoyment factor varies and sways on the tip of a knife. Because of this barren intensity, personally the music is almost unbearable in some parts - the similarities between all of the tracks causes a loss of interest after a few numbers, and the thin, plain, and surreal being the peak, there is absolutely no comparison between a song like 'Things Behind the Sun' and 'Which Will'. The emotion is heartfelt and true in both, although the musical ideals Drake kept for himself withered in the midst of 'Pink Moon's weaker tracks. He was an artist of a psychedelic and hazy era, so the paranoia and sleeplessness shown clearly on these tracks, transforming into an awakening, and joy, was a musical product of only that time. On Pink Moon
Drake digs into his bare folk influence rather than his awkward but juicy creativity, and since then has pushed nothing but a silent and mysterious new outlet of expression. He grew sadder, his mind aged, and he became depressed and restless and poor. 'Pink Moon' is a journal of his thoughts in the time when the decline began. Once it came to a full stop however, he eventually grew unable to make music anymore and passed on.
is, while being the most clear record of his condescending behavior, is also the only one and is the barest. The album is a diary, like all of Nick Drake's music, and the personal effect and meaning (for Nick) is so deep and deserted, it sounds as though it can be heard truly only by it's writer. The death of whom is in fact the writer dissolves any hope for deciphering anyone ever really had, in the past, present and future. But mystery is a tag that Nick Drake will forever hold above his grave.