Thursday, February 4, 2010

Nick Drake: Pink Moon

I will have to give credit where credit is due as my oldest brother Chuck made the suggestion that I feature “Pink Moon” as my TV Thursday selection. When Volkswagen decided to use Nick Drake’s song for its Cabrio TV commercials, it brought needed exposure to an artist that up to that point who only had a cultic following in the U.S. Even in the U.K. where he had a greater notoriety, Drake's popularity would not begin to grow until the next decade following his death by accidental overdose in 1974.

The song employs a modal tuning that adds a suspended fourth. Tuned as CGCFCE (low to high) and capoed at the second fret to play in the key of D, the chordal structure gives the song its unique character.

“Pink Moon,” along with the album of the same name, was the third and final recording by Drake. Recorded in October 1971, the LP was released in February 1972. The entire album was recorded in two 2-hour sessions on two consecutive days with the sessions ending about 2:00 AM on each day.

The entire album is noticeably sparse with Drake playing acoustic guitar and singing with overdubs of Drake playing piano. Reportedly, Drake hand delivered the master of the LP to Island Records without speaking to anyone – just dropping off the package. It sat in the receptionist area until it was discovered by staff during the following week.

Although it sold less than his first two LPs, the “Pink Moon” album has become his defining piece. Drake, who suffered from chronic depression, also had great difficulty in communicating with others and a lack of convention relating to nonverbal cues. This may indicate other issues such as Asperger’s Syndrome which often manifests itself in problems relating to social interaction and communication – especially in the realm of nonverbal communication.

Drake never lived to be diagnosed with this autism spectrum disorder that did not have a standard diagnosis until 20 years after his death. Individuals with Asperger’s Syndrome are quite brilliant – Hans Asperger, who first identified the disorder in 1944, referred to the children he had studied as “Little Professors.” Whether Drake had AS or not is moot, but it may serve to understand his genius in light of his difficulty to adapt to social situations.

Volkswagen Commercial


I saw it written and I saw it say
Pink moon is on its way
And none of you stand so tall
Pink moon gonna get you all
It's a pink moon
It's a pink, pink, pink, pink, pink moon.

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