Screen Reviews

A Skin Too Few: The Days of Nick Drake

Directed by Jeroen Berkvens

“aSkinTooFew”

There are cult artists that the world at large has never heard of for a reason – people such as Roky Erikson of the 13th Floor Elevators, for instance. His form of brilliance would never captivate the world at large, for the world has no place for fuzzed-out garage rock LSD music. Then there are performers who are cult artists despite the fact that their music sounds perfectly suited for mass consumption. Nick Drake was such an artist.

He only lived 26 years. His released output is three scant albums, barely enough for a double CD. But in that brief time, with only a handful of songs, Nick Drake created a tapestry of art that has not only endured since its release, but grown. The use of •Pink Moon• in a car commercial is only perhaps the most visible sign. Countless later artists draw from the melancholy well that is his music. You don•t simply listen to his songs – they are far too personal for that. At some point, you realize that by some magic of unknown powers, Drake wrote a song for you. One of his creations will exactly match a time, a feeling, or an emotion that you thought until that moment existed only in your world. The fact that a withdrawn, isolated man in rural England could have so perfectly articulated your basic emotions can be both warming and frightening.

No film exists of Drake performing – he did too few live shows for such an opportunity to exist. He was never a media darling during his lifetime, so whatever still images were made have been memorized years ago. So the notion of making a motion picture about his life must have been a daunting one, since the subject in question did almost nothing to help you along. But Jeroen Berkvens must be commended for what he did create – a beautiful, moving experience that paints in a few of the gaps that we all hold in our knowledge of this wonderful musician. With interviews with Drake•s family, musos such as Paul Weller, and his producer, Joe Boyd, a rather full portrait is presented. The picture is not a happy one. Although gifted almost beyond belief, Nick Drake died thinking he had been a failure, wondering if his music had touched even one person. If only he knew.

The greatest aspect of the film is the slow, tranquil shots that focus on Drake•s hometown, Tanworth in Arden. It is here that the music that lingers so lightly on first hearing, but that grows and resonates from that point forward, began. A very small town surrounded by rolling hills and sleepy meadows, it provides for the eyes that which his music does for the ears. Drake couldn•t have created songs such as •River Man• or •Pink Moon• in the bustle of a city; he would have been drowned out. But surrounded by the people who had known him his entire life, and in a setting of peaceful beauty, he found a surrounding that amplified his soul. •Hazey Jane• and •A Way to Blue• come to life when framed by his environment.

Nick Drake was a genius. A masterful guitarist, a singer with such a uniquely haunting voice that sounds for all the world as if it is being whispered from a point just behind your ears, Drake birthed art that had no stepchildren, although many tried. He is simply Nick Drake. The notion that he died (by his own hand or not, we will never know) wondering if he had reached anyone is so very sad. Yes Nick, you did. Thank you.

http://www.nickdrakefilm.com


Recently on Ink 19...

Gasoline Lollipops

Gasoline Lollipops

Features

Gasoline Lollipops’ newest single, “Freedom Don’t Come Easy,” is today’s mother lovin’ punk rock folk anthem.

Basket Case

Basket Case

Screen Reviews

Frank Henenlotter’s gory grindhouse classic Basket Case looks as grimy as the streets of Times Square, and that is one of the film’s greatest assets. Arrow Video gives this unlikely candidate a welcome fresh release.

Jimmy Failla

Jimmy Failla

Event Reviews

Despite the Mother’s Day factor, hundreds of fervent, faithful followers still flocked to Orlando’s famed Plaza Live to catch an earlybird set from Jimmy Failla — one of the hottest names on today’s national comedy scene.

Lonnie Walker

Lonnie Walker

Features

Ink 19 readers get an early listen and look at “Cool Sparkling Water,” a new single from Lonnie Walker.

Los Lobos

Los Lobos

Event Reviews

Jeremy Glazier has a bucket list day at a Los Lobos 50th Anniversary show in Davenport, Iowa.

Always… Patsy Cline

Always… Patsy Cline

Archikulture Digest

Carl F. Gauze reviews the not-quite one-woman show, Always… Patsy Cline, based on the true story of Cline’s friendship with Louise Seger, who met the star in l961 and corresponded with Cline until her death.

Lorraine of the Lions

Lorraine of the Lions

Screen Reviews

A lady Tarzan and her gorilla have a rough time adapting to high society in Lorraine of the Lions (1925), one of four silent films on Accidentally Preserved: Volume 5, unleashed by Ben Model and Undercrank Productions, with musical scores by Jon C. Mirsalis.