Nick Drake: A Skin Too Few
Thus, imagine my surprise yesterday when I flipped by "MHD" (the MTV/VH1 high-definition channel) to see they were playing a little-known documentary about one of my favorite musicians, Nick Drake. Very little is known about Drake, as he rarely played live and never gave interviews. No video of him in his adult years exists.
Drake began making albums in England in 1969 as a 21-year old. He recorded three outstanding albums that went virtually unheard during his life. In 1972, suffering from debilitating depression, he moved back home with his parents. In 1974, he overdosed on depression medication, killing himself.
It was only after he had been dead for a decade that his music was discovered and widely distributed. In the documentary, his sister points out that he often felt unappreciated because he was making these great albums that nobody was listening to - and that may have contributed to his withdrawal from the world. It's ironic that he finally began receiving the credit he deserved well after his death - a death brought on, in part, by the lack of appreciation he felt. Since his death, his albums routinely show up on "best all-time albums" lists, and he is frequently cited as one of the most influential musicians in modern music.
Aside from being such a sad story, it still amazes me how his music came to be known essentially as the result of a fluke. Here you have a musician who thought he was too talented for the world in which he lived - and it drove him to his own death. And yet many of the songs he recorded alone, on a tape recorder, nearly 40 years ago now resonate with listeners across the world. It's almost possible to see the hole in music created by his death, that will go unfilled.
Through the magic of YouTube, the documentary "A Skin Too Few" can be seen at the following links:
Just a warning: not exactly the most uplifting of films ever created.
Also, some fans have set up a MySpace page, where some of Drake's songs can be heard.