Nick Drake, “Pink Moon” and Pink Floyd

Since discovering that all full moons have a name (given to them by the Native Americans who kept track of the months by the lunar calendar), I have written about each one as they appear in our skies. To accompany the post I always include one of the numerous songs that have been written about the moon and its many foibles.

It passes in a flash doesn’t it? Ever since following the full moon cycle for this blog, the lunar months seem to have rocketed by. This calendar month, on the 30th April, we are to have a Pink Moon appear in our skies. This time the name comes from one of the spring flowers the ancient Native Americans would have seen covering the ground around April’s full moon – The pink Moss Phlox.

Well I can’t say I have such a flower in my garden, but I can share a picture of what my cherry blossom tree should look like at this time of the year. Sadly, because of that really cold snap back at the beginning of March, it seems that Mother Nature’s work has been delayed, but here is what the blossom looked like at this time last year. Very pink, to coincide with the Pink Moon.

177 4th May Cherry blossom

When I started choosing songs for this series, I couldn’t help but notice there was a song called Pink Moon written and recorded by a man who seems to have become a bit of a cult figure in music circles. Nick Drake only made three albums, and died at the ridiculously young age of 26, but over the last couple of decades has sold hundreds of thousands of albums. Many of these sales came about as a result of the song Pink Moon being used for a car advert which sparked a resurgence of interest. Time to see what caused all the furore then, and for once we seem to have an example of an ad where the inclusion of music was well executed and aesthetically successful.

Pink Moon by Nick Drake:

It’s an incredibly short song, only one verse and a chorus, on repeat, but the spare delivery and acoustic guitar accompaniment just seemed to work. Drake was a troubled soul however and suffered from major depression, often reflected in his lyrics. After completing his 1972 “Pink Moon” album, he withdrew from both live performance and recording, retreating to his parents’ home in rural Warwickshire. On 25 November 1974, he died from an overdose of a prescribed antidepressant. His cause of death was determined to be suicide.

nick drake
Nick Drake

Drake’s music remained available through the mid-1970s, but the 1979 release of the retrospective album “Fruit Tree” allowed his back catalogue to be reassessed. By the mid-1980s Drake was being credited as an influence by such artists as Robert Smith and David Sylvian. In 1985, The Dream Academy reached the UK and US charts with Life in a Northern Town, a song written for and dedicated to Drake. By the early 1990s, he had come to represent a certain type of “doomed romantic” musician in the UK music press.

Interestingly, Life in a Northern Town was produced by Dave Gilmour of Pink Floyd. Although never a big fan of Pink Floyd (I was just a tad to young for them I think), I knew that at some point in this series I should include something from their album “Dark Side of the Moon”. I think this post, what with all the pink-ness, should be the one. I will leave you with The Great Gig in the Sky, the fifth track on the album. I was pretty much blown away by Pink Floyd when I watched them at Live 8 in 2005 (the first time they had performed together for 24 years), and subsequently took to listening to Mr WIAA’s collection of Floyd tracks. Whenever I heard Clare Torry’s “wail”, used in effect as a musical instrument on Great Gig, I got goose bumps.

The Great Gig in the Sky by Pink Floyd:

Until next time….

Pink Moon Lyrics
(Song by
Nick Drake)

I saw it written and I saw it say
Pink moon is on it’s way
And none of you stand so tall
Pink moon gonna get you all

It’s a pink moon
Hey, it’s a pink moon
It’s a pink, pink, pink, pink, pink moon.
It’s a pink, pink, pink, pink, pink moon.

I saw it written and I saw it say
Pink moon is on it’s way
And none of you stand so tall
Pink moon gonna get you all

It’s a pink moon
Yeah, it’s a pink moon

Postscript:

I was a tad early in posting this full moon alert, so just in case you missed it, here is a picture of Monday night’s Pink Moon taken by my photographer friend – Stunning as ever.

30821676_10214213941835474_8420860583310334124_o
Picture courtesy of R.J.

Author: Alyson

Whenever I hear an old song on the radio, I am immediately transported back to those days - I know I'm not alone here and want to record those memories for myself and for the people in them. 50 years ago the song "Alfie" was written by my favourite songwriting team Bacharach and David - The opening line to that song was "What's it all about?" and I'm hoping that by writing this blog, I might find the answer to that question.

21 thoughts on “Nick Drake, “Pink Moon” and Pink Floyd”

  1. Great post
    some random stuff I vaguely remember not wiki verified
    John Martyns Solid Air was about ND
    Paul Weller reckoned River Man was the best song ever and did a crap cover version
    And the bloke with the posh name from The Dream Academy said it was inspired by trying to buy NDs guitar

    Jules

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well, well – a new visitor to these pages and all because I wrote about Nick Drake. I must admit that if I hadn’t been writing songs that refer to full moons for this series I’m doing, I probably wouldn’t have posted anything by ND, but now that I’ve spent some time researching him and listening to his music I am a bit smitten. Lots of trivia about him then and lots of people who have written songs inspired by him. And all this about a young man who was dead by the age of 26. Then again the world of rock and pop is littered with such tales.

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  2. Another wonderful “moon” post, Alyson. I always learn something new, this time about the moss phlox. Sorry to hear about the state of your cherry blossom tree but hopefully it will bloom soon, just a few weeks late. Mother Nature has been very fickle this year. Although not truly cold like my old hometown in New York, we’ve had unusually below normal temperatures throughout March & April. By now it should be t-shirt (and occasionally shorts) weather but I’m still wearing the same clothes as November through February. The warm-up appears to be about a week away. At least many of our trees & plants have bloomed nicely.

    Naturally I had to comment on any post about Nick Drake that also references Pink Floyd (I agree about that Live 8 performance) and The Dream Academy. Believe it or not, my post about Drake’s discography, which I wrote over 6 years ago, also mentioned those two artists, so I enjoyed the serendipity. Hope you don’t mind me posting a link here, in case you’re curious:

    https://kamertunesblog.wordpress.com/2012/02/18/nick-drake-3-hours-a-brief-and-brilliant-career/

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Gosh, just read your Nick Drake post (happy to have you share it here) – You really know your stuff don’t you! This post just fell into place once I decided to use the Pink Moon song for my full moon series, and once you delve a little further into the world of Nick Drake you find all these other connections like The Dream Academy song and then (tenuously in my case) the connection to Pink Floyd. I don’t know if it came through as a notification, but I also reinstated some older posts I had taken down today and one of those featured Lindisfarne whom you also mentioned in your piece.

      The way I’ve contrived it, this has turned out to be my 200th post. Like you I think I’ll take a little break from posting new stuff to catch up with real life pressures (like the garden). It is a little early for the full moon on the 30th, but if you do see one in your skies at the start of next week, think of Nick Drake and his Pink Moon!

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  3. I bought a Nick Drake vinyl album at some point in the 80s. It was a compilation, though I didn’t know that at the time. Since then I’ve bought his three true records on CD. It’s hard not to like his songs. And I’ve always enjoyed his singing voice. Very mellow.

    Pitiful that he had such a short life.

    Till next time, Alyson . . .

    Liked by 1 person

  4. “Interestingly, Life in a Northern Town was produced by Dave Gilmour of Pink Floyd.”

    Not surprisingly. Joe Boyd produced both Nick Drake and Pink Floyd (and, much later (though—tempus fugit—the time between the first two and the third is much shorter than between the third and now) R.E.M.), so there is a connection between Gilmour and Drake.

    English music is a small community. 6 degrees of separation is way too many. I recently got from Black Sabbath to Steeleye Span in just a few steps over on another blog.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You are right, I keep finding we go in circles with all the connections so more like 3 degrees of separation in English music. I also noticed that the sound engineer who worked on Dark Side of the Moon was Alan Parsons who also worked with Al Stewart who seemed to be connected to just about everyone back in the late 60s. It was Alan who apparently suggested using Clare Torry for Great Gig but she had to be persuaded as she didn’t really like Pink Floyd and she had other engagements!

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  5. As ever, after one of your moon posts, I look forward to looking out for the specific moon you’ve written about. So a pink on on Monday, I hope! And Pink Moon is a timeless song, great choice. In response to Phillip Helbig too, about the small community in English music and all the interconnections and degrees of separation – have you ever owned/looked through Pete Frame’s brilliant Rock Family Trees books? They really demonstrate all that so well, fascinating stuff.

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    1. Thanks for dropping by – Yes, I was a bit early with this one this month but no excuse now for missing it! All being well on Monday we should see the Pink Moon in our skies. Just realising though that as the year progresses, and the nights get lighter, it will be trickier to spot a full moon unless I stay up really late (much lighter up here by the end of June than where you are!). Will cross that bridge when I come to it.

      As for the Rock Family Trees books, not too sure about them but there have been some great docs on telly on this subject – Small community in English Music but when you get to the Laurel Canyon set of the late 60s/early 70s, they are all connected too. Fascinating stuff joining the dots.

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  6. Very impressed that you managed a whole post on Nick Drake without mentioning that his sister was in Crossroads. Or UFO.

    Somehow I’ve managed to get this far into my life without knowing that Life In A Northern Town was written about Nick… or that Dave Gilmour produced it. You’re much better at this research lark than I am, Alyson.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I remembered that whole Gabrielle Drake connection because it was mentioned over on Jez’s Chain at some point – Seemed a bit frivolous to mention it here though, as quite a sad post really.

      As for the research this one wasn’t too onerous, but some of them are, which is why I’m going to have to take a little break to deal with some real-life pressures. 200 posts now published though so feeling quite chuffed with myself.

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  7. I’d forgotten about the car ad. A friend introduced me to Nick Drake’s wonderful music. N Drake used complex tunings and there’s still an air of mystery about the way he played the guitar. Wish he was still here, a tragic story and a talented musician who should have had a bigger audience while he was alive. I have all the albums (incl Fruit Tree) and they are worth owning. Here’s to many more pink moons, real or song based!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Don’t think I ever knew about the car ad but I knew that Nick Drake has become a bit of a cult figure all these years later. Such a tragic story. Thought you might have all the albums – Only 3 but all made by the time he was 24.

      Yes indeed – Here’s to many more Pink Moons!

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  8. I started working in a record shop in 1979, the year that the original ‘Fruit Tree’ box set was released. Box sets were a pretty rare thing in those days, in fact I only remember two others we stocked around that period, Keith Jarrett’s mammoth 10LP ‘Sun Bear Concerts’ (we applauded that one out of the building when it sold) and the 6LP ‘Complete Buddy Holly’. I was brought up on Buddy by my Dad, so picking up a copy of that was a no-brainer, but until that time I had no real idea who Nick Drake was. The joy of working in a well stocked record shop was being able to check out all manner of unknown music without having to splash the cash. Nick Drake quickly became a firm favourite and I soon took the plunge and purchased ‘Fruit Tree’ too. Unburdened by the technology of the day, there’s something utterly timeless about his music, which is perhaps why it continues to attract new listeners. Several years later, I replaced the ‘Fruit Tree’ LP box with a shiny new CD set, something I’ve always kind of regretted.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Nice to have you drop by. Gosh, lots of points made here:
      a) Yes working in a record shop must have been great in those pre-digital days for checking out all sorts of music without having to actually part with the cash. And, you are right, not many box-sets in those days so Nick Drake’s was one of the few.
      b) I only heard of Nick Drake once he started to become championed by various radio DJs in the last decade or two, but you are right, because his music is quite spare and unburdened by technology it has remained timeless.
      c) We all went through a phase didn’t we when it seemed great replacing the old vinyl with these new-fangled things called CDs but even they are obsolete nowadays and we do regret parting company with the original vinyl – Can’t imagine how much space would be needed if everything was kept however – I know you have a bit of a problem on that score!

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