I just read about some of the initial reviews of Nick Drake’s final album, Pink Moon. They weren’t all that eager. And it is interesting to see how later it has come to be seen as a work of genius. It reminds me of studies that have been done with teachers. When told that a paper was written by another teacher, they give it a pass; when told it was by a student, they savage it. This is an idea that guides so much of my life — it is the one thing that film critics and atheists are rarely willing to engage with: we are not very rational.
But where does that put me with my love of Nick Drake? The truth is that I associate him strongly with a very good period of time in my life. Is that all it is? I like Nick Drake because I like Nick Drake? Certainly that’s a large part of it. I can’t say that his voice and style of singing is objectively good. I just like it. I can, however, say that he was an awesome and creative guitar player. And I can say this in an absolute sense: Nick Drake’s music works on its own terms — and that is the highest complement that I’m capable of giving.
Today, we listen to “Parasite.” If you don’t consider the refrain, the song tells the story of a man observing others around him from afar — disconnected. But the refrain is mysterious: “For I am the parasite of this town.” Does that mean that the singer feeds off the life around him? That he is, in a sense, dead without their nourishment? I really don’t know. I don’t think it matters. It’s a beautiful song.