Monday, August 6, 2012

Nick Drake & Pure Versus Processed Music

There are times when I actually like listening to highly processed, electronic, atmospheric music. Particularly when I'm writing, or doing something where I just want some background noise to set a mood.

There's something to be said for the moody and ethereal -

As well as the optimistic and ebullient -

But I can only take so much of this unbridled electronic energy. Too much of it and I start to feel drained, hollow, and unfulfilled. I feel like Bilbo Baggins after he held on to the ring too long: "thin, sort of stretched, like butter scraped across too much bread."

And I have to return to voice, vision, and talent.

Nothing restoreth the soul like some Nick Drake. A boy who died at 26, two years before I was born, leaving behind too few perfect gems of lyric and melody. Sparely composed and simply performed, the tracks are just long enough to share their message and then get out of the way, doing their quiet work on your memory.

I've taken to playing him in the office in the mornings, when I'm doing paperwork. No one on the staff has complained. Before a particularly stressful day of customer service and corporate shenanigans, he reminds me that there can be a meaning to song, and it doesn't have to be pure product.

And that the day's struggles are temporary, even though the truest poetry endures.


  1. Wish I could play music while writing or reading but it doesn't work. If I am aware of the music, it distracts and gets in the way of the words. When I'm concentratd on the typewriter or the book in hand, I simply tune out the music and no longer hear it, no matter how loud. I can even forget when I'm wearing headphones.

    The techno-pop, elctronic, or what ever the name is music leaves me cold. It's all production and no soul. (I feel the same way about creating an image in Photoshop vs. capturing a photo on film.) But the Nick Drake songs are wonderful: simple, emotional, subtle, in a way that sneaks into your heart. I grew up with simple, traditional folk music as a staple. Drake died when I was finishing college and starting a career, a busy time and I hadn't heard of him. Now I have to pick up some of Drake's CDs.

    Speaking of Bilbo. I read the LOTR every year and have since about 1965. Haven't read The Hobbit in a long time but plan to do so this autumn. I just got a copy of "The Annotated Hobbit". For a Tolkien fan/fanatic, it is great. If you read The Hobbit, it might be worth a look.

    Jeff The Bear

  2. Yeah, I'm the same way, I either get distracted by the music or completely block it out.

    I just started reading LotR last week. I had the book, but have never read it (even though I loved the cartoon of The Hobbit I remember way back when, and the movies).

    I have been looking to pick up The Hobbit, but haven't found a copy I want...The Annotated Hobbit may be right down my alley!

  3. Deek, I wish you joy in your first LOTR reading. The movies are excellent but the books are vastly richer. I always find something new in them. (Just realized this will be the 47th year of reading the Trilogy. It doesn't seem possible!)

    Jeff The Bear