Sometimes it feels like the myth surrounding Nick Drake’s life shines just as strongly as his beautiful, potent music.
This myth comes down to a lot of factors. He was painfully shy and reluctant to play live or do interviews, so there’s next to no archival material of the man in his artistic prime. His music was virtually ignored over his tragically short life time, but his three remarkable albums continue to haunt and inspire new admirers as the years roll on.
In every respect Nick Drake was a recluse, a loner. Although he did well at school exhibiting talent in sport, music and academically early on, in the 2000 documentary A Skin Too Few his father Rodney said that "no one seemed to know him very well".
He was very unsure of himself, particularly with girls.Joe Boyd
He then became increasingly isolated after various attempts to launch his music career stalled.
In an interview with triple j's Richard Kingsmill in 1994, producer Joe Boyd recounted his first impressions of Nick Drake.
"He was very shy, very quiet, stuttered a little bit, sort of dishevelled student look. But he was clear on what he wanted," Boyd said. "Once you engaged him in conversation he was very definite on his views about things.
"He [also] had these fantastically strong hands. You could see these really muscular hands with very long, often dirty, strong fingernails. And his guitar playing is extraordinarily clean and precise."
Boyd also had his theories as to why Drake became increasingly withdrawn,
"It’s like a lot of artists. One of the things that gives them the intensity in their music is that other areas of communication are shut off to them," he said.
"He was very unsure of himself, particularly with girls. He communicated with his songs and he felt if he could communicate the same way that he did through his music to people, everything would be alright, but it wasn’t.
"I think he felt that if his music career had developed, then people would understand and he would be acknowledged. When he discovered he had a great deal of difficulty performing live, he really withdrew from touring. That was one of the reasons the records never really made an impact."
R.E.M., Kate Bush and The Cure are just a few of the acts who count themselves as Drake fans. His music has illuminated many quirky films like The Royal Tenenbaums and Garden State and his life story has been told in numerous documentaries.
There’s no reason to doubt that his musical legacy will continue to grow and cause more listeners to fall into some deep misty eyed contemplation.
Joe Boyd said that he feels Nick Drake could have done anything, had he lived longer.
"He could have been one of the most extraordinary musicians of our time, but it’s fruitless to say ‘what if, what if’," he told Kingsmill. "The way Nick was, was part and parcel of his art and his music. And you can’t separate the two, as we’ve seen by looking at the lyrics and by hearing how much he knew of his own fate."
Drake's dusty and delicate voice drifts unhurriedly through Pink Moon’s ‘Know’, confirming Boyd’s intimate understanding of his friend.
'Know that I love you, know that I don’t care. Know that I see you, know that I’m not there'