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Saturday, February 28, 2009

29 in 2009 - Nick Drake: "Pink Moon"

Nick Drake: Pink Moon
Originally Released: February 25, 1972
Genre: Folk
Rating: 8 out of 10 Stars

I have a friend who's really into folk music as of late, so when I told him about this whole "29 in 2009" thing, he immediately insisted that I add this record to my list. I'm glad that I did. Prior to me sitting down and making an honest attempt at listening to Nick Drake, my only experience with the artist had been from whatever soundtracks or car commercials he happened to have been on. Embarrassing, yes, but the truth nonetheless. My ill-conceived judgement to these brief encounters was "yay, big deal!"

Silly me. One listen to Pink Moon and I immediately realized just how influential this album is. One listen to your modern folk artists - your Iron & Wines, Rocky Votolatos, and Jose Gonzalezes - immediately point out the painfully obvious truth that much of what they do is a blatant attempt at trying to reach the same musical heights. They're all great, but after listening to a lot of Nick Drake in the last few weeks, I've slowly become less and less impressed by their antics.

On an album in which the only instrument used (save for one part) is a guitar, the most strikingly beautiful feature is Drake's feather-light voice which is so iconic that even people who are passively aware of his music will be able to pick it out in the aforementioned commercials and movies and be able to correctly identify its source. For that alone, this album can be considered a classic. Add in the fact that there's not a single song on the album that even comes close to being less than great and you have an album that becomes one of the few that can define genres or styles of music.

Pink Moon is certainly one of those albums, though the debate as to whether it is his best still rages on to this day in the midst of shitty college jam sessions. You know an artist is amazing when an album this good is even debatable as his best! Personally, most of my time spent with Pink Moon has been with it playing as I go about my regular day-to-day business. It goes by so quick (less than 30 minutes in length) that by the time I start paying attention to it, I realize that it's already played through 2 or 3 times!

And that's just what folk music is to me: background music. Great background music, sure, but nothing that I try to imitate or mold my own musical failures after. I'm not the biggest fan of the genre, but even I can spot beauty when it shows itself. And Pink Moon is - in a word -beautiful. No more. No less. Somehow, I can imagine that that's exactly how Nick Drake would have wanted it.

Verdict: Classic

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