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Hello, welcome to "Remembering Nick Drake". My name is Marc Hawthorne. I am the Local Editor of the AV Club, which is the entertainment section of the Onion. But because I work for the AV Club, it means that I am not funny. So don't expect me to make any Onion like jokes. To my left is Gabrielle Drake who is an actress as well as being Nick Drake's sister. There is Joe Boyd who is Nick's friend as well as his producer and he has written a book called "White Bicycles: Making Music in the 1960's" and Jolie Holland who is a musician. So, I just want to start up by saying - a lot you know a lot of famous musicians died at the age of 27 but Nick Drake died when he was 26. Then again Nick Drake wasn't famous when he died. When his three albums were released in late 60's and early 70's, none of them sold even 5000 copies, which exacerbated exacerbated the depression that eventually killed him. But overtime his popularity has continued to grow and posthumously his music has affected a lot of people including a lot of contemporary musicians which includes Jolie. So I just want to start off with Jolie asking you, "When did you first discover Nick Drake and what has his music meant to you? That was it was, I think late '94 or '95 and I was living in a in a shack built on the back of a long bed pick up truck and that was a really interesting time because I I was coming out of suburban Houston which is really culturally dead in so many ways and I hit the road with my friend and he he had really great taste in - and I heard all these people for the first time about then. I heard, - you know I was raised by southerners that hated I am more nervous, I can't remember his name, this is terrible. But he is the Canadian guy with the with the crazy voice. Neil Young? Yeah. My mom my mom hated Neil Young. So like I got exposed to all this other you know great music rock music but, like that that was absent so I heard Neil Young and Nick Drake and Elizabeth Carton and and there are some other even some other like massive heavy weights that I had heard at that time, so its pretty great. I don't think I am - I don't know if - I bet Nick Drake is an influence but I don't know if I don't know if I have ever said that actually. It's okay. Well still I used to be okay that's all Gabrielle I want to start with go to you and just - take us back to some of the earliest memories of your brother as well as just your family, you had a very musical family, yeah just that to start with. Well I - both Nick and I were very lucky to grown up in a very loving and supportive family our parents were musical, I I really came from a family in which music seem to be really around us all the time, my dad played the piano, my mom played the piano and indeed composed songs herself, she was always writing songs mostly in my youth they seem to be above my brother and my self. She she write songs about - in fact so much so that I I think - I really thought that if you can write a song about a child you can have a child but of course that's anyway, she wrote songs, my dad played music, my brother and I grew up learning the piano. I was the black sheep of the family, because I never really went on. I never studied the piano properly; I was far too wrapped up in my acting. But Nick did and he played the piano and then at school he went on to play the Clarinet, and then he learned learned the guitar himself. I remember many years after he died actually meeting the boy who had taught him the guitar at at his school and this boy said how frustrating it was because he taught Nick the guitar and within six months Nick was playing the guitar better than he could ever hope to. So I suppose you know music was in his very pores and he just went on from there, he played the saxophone at school as well and always his letters home were full of concerts he had been to and all sorts of music, he seemed to enjoy, pop music, classical music, Indian music, Arab music. So it was always inevitable really that he was going to be a musician. And before we get into to the music, I think some that I found to be interesting was that he was also very athletic when he was younger, he was on rugby teams, he ran track, things like that and sort of his music doesn't make you think that he is out there you know, rough and tumble - Well he was Nick was - he was he was an outstanding athlete and I think for at one time held the record for the junior I mean in England, the record for the 100 yard sprint. But he never valued his athletic prowess in any way and certainly I mean in in his very early youth he was actually very good at boxing. So he was very unlikely indeed. But he did hate it and gave it up quite soon. Yes. Joe when did you start working with with Nick? And may be this is too big right now but you know how did he compare it to the other artist that you that you have produced or that you have produced in the past? Well, I just started because Fairport convention when I was working with volunteered to be part of a protest against the Vietnam War that took place at the Round House in London and I think that it was a 24 hour marathon and I think they, because they were reasonably well known they got a a kind of okay spot at like nine o clock in the evening and they played and went home except for one of them, a bass player Ashley Hutching, stayed, and listen to a lot of other singers that some you know, middle of of the night or some unfashionable hour of this 24 hour cycle, Nick played and Ashley went and spoke to him got his phone number, came in the next day to the office and just handed me this piece of paper and said, call this guy, he is pretty interesting and so I did and Nick came in and gave me a tape and went away and later that afternoon I put the tape on and within about 20 seconds I think I had I went wow you know this is this is really interesting, this is really unusual or this is something else and I think I don't know I mean I have sort of joke about my aversion to you know this - the normal mode of middle class singer - song writers you know young people with guitars and it's true I never really particularly liked that form just for its own sake and so when I would mostly when I would hear people that sounded like that I will go okay next and Nick just wasn't like that at all and I think that one of the things that inlayed - you know you don't you can't really intellectualize why you like music. You can think about it later and break it down and analyze it but in that moment I just loved it I just said yeah this is it, this is great. I think one of the things in thinking about it now, that was quite distinctive about Nick compared to other musicians that I worked with or musicians that were popular at the time was in almost every musician, there is an attention getting, there is some thing in there which is saying, "hey, listen to me, isn't this clever? Isn't this good, listen look at this look what I am doing now" you know, and none of that was in Nick. He he was completely withheld within himself almost like he knew how how good he was. You could tell that in the way that he played and the way he sang and it wasn't reaching out and grabbing your lapel saying listen to this, he was just saying here it is you know if you like it come closer and that was such a different point of view about your own music I think for most of the people I worked with. And then as a producer, I know that within - as not a real musician my self you know I have never been in a real studio with a real producer and done any that kind of stuff, but obviously with different musicians, the producer has a you know, more of a hand in the music than with others and so - can you sort of take us into the studio setting and I am sure it was different for each record, but can you sort of give us a sense of what it was like actually working with with Nick and how much you had to tell him and sort of how those ideas bounced off? Well, I think the the way forward was established very early on in the process. I mean I sat down with Nick, I said "look, I think these songs are really wonderful I would love to make a record with you" and I made the I mentioned you know he sort of looked at his shoes and coughed asked if he could smoke and and the first time I really got a response out of him was was when I said but I thought some of the songs would lend themselves to Strings and he looked up and said, "yes, I think that because I have already and I have already done a concert with a String Quartet". And he seem quite animated for him you know at that idea and so my feeling was this is world class music, I want a world class production and my template was first Leonard Cohen album because that had sold very well and also I could tell that Nick wasn't you know he seemed so shy that it was worrying the idea of him going out and trying to sell himself to an audience and Leonard Cohen was another good example because he was refusing to perform at that time. His first record had come out and he had sold a lot of records without ever doing a concert. And - anyway so I said okay we are going to get a String arranger and try the first three songs with the String arranger and I called up Peter Asher who just finished doing the first James Taylor record with a string arranger and I asked for his number and Peter said, yeah he is very good and Richard Huston I think is his name anyway I have just kind of forgot blanked it out. He we called him up we sent him over a tape, he wrote in those days there was no way you could hear the arrangement. It wasn't like he could play it on a computer and you could hear it before hand you just had to trust it and go on to the studio and hire the musicians and went in the studio and recorded these three songs and from the beginning you could just tell it was wrong. It was somehow sweet, corny and cute and I don't know it just didn't really work. but you had to but everybody was there, musicians were there, the arranger was there, he was talking to you about technical things and you had to finish the session and we were all very polite and we were all very enthusiastic and that's very good, thanks very much. Paid everybody and then finally slowly, people are packing up and then the arranger was packing music all the time John Wood, the engineer and I and Nick were sitting there sort of looking each other and and finally he was out the door. And I turned to Nick and I said, "Well, I am sorry about that, it didn't really work." And Nick was so relieved because you could tell that he hated it and but he was a little too shy. I mean, he didn't know what I was going to say. And he was worried about what would happen if I liked it you know what was going to happen then? And it was such that and he was then you know he was so relieved and we said, "Well, what we are going to do?" And Nick said, "Well, I have a friend at Cambridge who has done some arrangements you know for the String Quartet and they are - they are not bad." And you know, my feeling was I want a proper world class production here and the idea of using a Cambridge Student who has never done anything professional in his life before was completely against my impulses, about my grand ideas about what I wanted to do. But the fact that Nick said it when he said nothing, you know he had been so self effacing about every thing, we thought "well he wouldn't say this, if it wasn't worth listening to". And so I drove up to Cambridge, I met Robert Kirby, his friend and I really liked it. And I you could tell how much he loved Nick and how much he loved Nick's music. And there is a such a good feeling as, "Okay, lets do it." And so they came down and and we booked six string player and the first track they recorded was "Way to Blue". And just hearing all those individual parts, it was so tantalizing and interesting and I was so impatient with John Wood the engineer because he wanted to listen first to the violas and then to violins. He couldn't hear the whole arrangement together. And finally, he pushed up all the faders and I heard it and I said, "Oh, my god. This is just great, this is fantastic." And these are these are 20 year olds right? They were doing all this? Yeah. Right. And and that was I like to think that was the way we went on from there that everything was a kind of dialogue between us. I would suggest something, Nick would have a counter idea and he got more confident about his ideas and what he wanted and Robert was wonderful foil for him and he there were certain musicians we trusted; Danny Thompson, he loved the bass player and Paul Harris, the piano player, right on a few tracks. You know, he people - Nick knew when people really loved his music and then he was very comfortable with them and so that was pretty much you know the way it went. Gabrielle in in the documentary, A Skin Too Few, as well as things that I have read, it seems like Nick didn't allow a lot of people to get get to know him that well or at least as what you have said, he is sort of compartmentalized the people who knew him - Sorry. You know, I don't I I didn't know even if it's a question of him not allowing people to get to know either, that sounds too conscious. I don't think he was able to let people get to know him entirely well. I always find it's interesting because those of us who knew and loved Nick dearly always somehow felt that we that we didn't really know him, was those people who never met him and who simply know him through his music often come up to me and say, "I feel I really know Nick." And I think that, that's because he speaks more truly through his music than he was ever able to communicate with any of us who who lived beside him in his ordinary every day life, really. Yeah. Well, that was going to my next question, I was going to ask Joe if you know, you having produced his first two records as well as the last four songs you ever recorded, is that right? If you felt like, you knew him better may be than other people did in his life just because you are around his music and sort of sharing those ideas that that was that was the way that he that he spoke to people. If you felt like may be you know him better than than people who weren't around his music so much. No, I I wouldn't say that at all. I think, you know, I knew him in mostly in the very narrow confines of professional work. And I think we got to be friends and after the sessions, we used to go there was a I had this strange friend who was a kind of ex-criminal from east end who bought and sold used cars, stolen goods and hashish. And he would we would go around his house after the session and at his tiny kitchen with a little Formica top table and some wooden chairs; he make tea and roll joints and me and the musicians would gather round; and we play games. We play card games or liar dice. And liar dice is a game with poker dice. It's kind of weird English thing I don't know may be you play it here too but, when Nick first came around he really liked it there, he seemed to like because Bob, the the guy was no nonsense. He would treat everybody the same and he slap you on the back and make fun of you and that kind of attitude which wasn't too careful. Nick really responded to he liked the people and just didn't care that he didn't looked them in the eyes or sort of look down at their shoes. He just you know, Bob would just get on with it and say, "Come on Nick, what do you want? You know here it's your turn, come on lets go." And and Nick learned liar dice and really loved the game and there were some wonderful moments where Nick got good enough so he won a few times and that was some of sort of the happiest I ever saw Nick when he won the liar dice game. But I didn't really know you know, I be I go to I went to party sometimes and some girl some - you know sort upper middle class girl would come up to me and say, "Oh, I hear you are working with Nick, isn't he a darling? Isn't he sweet, isn't he wonderful?" you know and I would look at these girls and say I can't picture Nick having a conversation with but obviously he did you know and so, I don't know the answer to that really. I mean, I I can only say what I knew and then there were times you know, later on when Nick was more depressed, when you felt like you didn't know him at all. And he didn't he didn't like playing live and and rarely did - right I mean. I think in the movie you mentioned or somebody mentioned that that he played like half of his tour - "five leaves left" and then that was kind of it. He he called from the roads that I am coming home and kind of never played live again? That's Yeah, that's kind of the story. I mean, it it , what happened was that, it was clear from the beginning that he wasn't you you didn't just send him out I didn't say. You know, go up there and build an audience. First of all, he was shy; second of all, he had to retune after every you know and this was not this was in a day when nobody had ever heard of guitar wrestlers. You know, there was nobody No guitar tech. You know no guitar tech you know who could bring on a freshly tuned guitar. Nobody thought of that. In those days it was kind of unheard of and we couldn't have afford it in any way and so he would play a song and then he would spend two minutes tuning the guitar. And he had no jokes, he had nothing to say while this was going on. And so my feeling was, let's do a great album. And that album will come out and everybody will be so stunned by this album because it's so good the stuff. But then, we can put him on on his own concerts with audiences as you want to come and see it and so when the record came out and didn't sell like that, to be honest, I didn't really have a plan B, it was kind of I was stymied but there was just one fantastic moment when the Fairport convention Played a concert at the Festival Hall in the Autumn of '69. They had had this terrible car accident where the drummer had been killed and then they rehearsed and built up this whole new repertoire which was - the album "Liege & Lief". And the first concert was this evening at the Festival Hall and because of circumstances, the audiences were superb, respectful and quiet and every body was there was such a wonderful intense atmosphere and Nick came out to finish the first half. And he played a song, and people applauded very - very warmly and then he sat there and he tuned his guitar and you could have heard a pin drop nobody talked, nobody said anything and then he played another song and everybody roared with with approval. And he ended up getting an encore. And we all thought, "Great, this is going to work. We can see he can go on the road now. He has he has got it, he has figured it out. It's fine and of course the next night he was out some where without the Fairport convention with people buying drinks in the back of the student union or something, and as soon as he spent three minutes tuning a guitar he lost the audience and after three or four nights of that, he just couldn't take it any more and called up and said I am really sorry, I am coming home. Gabrielle, what are your favorite memories of Nick from childhood? Well, we had I suppose you would say, really we did have a very happy childhood, we had them, we were blessed with wonderful and loving parents and I suppose you could say that we were a close family. My brother and I really fought, often lots of children, but that's the way the children do What is the difference in age? Four years I was four years his senior. So did you beat him up? Well, I don't know. I didn't really beat him up because he was extremely obstinate and very annoying and he found me very annoying too. But I suppose we were really very fond of each other too. I I certainly, absolutely loved him and you know, I was so proud of him when he first when he produced his first album, "Five Leaves Left" we were actually sharing a flat together in London and he was always reserved, he always sort of compartmentalized his life so that a lot of the time his family didn't know what was actually going on and one set of friends didn't know another set of friends. So although I knew he was recording an album, when we were sharing a flat, I had no idea how far it would go up to and one day he said he came into my bedroom and said, "there you are" and threw his album down on to my bed and there he was, my baby brother had produced a long playing record as it was in those days. What was it in your childhood that allowed you both to become such accomplished artists? Was it your parent's training or classical training that you had or I think you see my - both my parents were really musicians but amateur musicians my father was in fact an engineer and a very deeply civilized man who was most anxious that his children really in the end should do what they wanted to do, so he would never he was never going to push my brother into becoming a businessman or an engineer what ever and he was never going to push me into becoming anything I didn't want to become, from a very earlier age, I wanted to become an actress and I think from a slightly later age, Nick definitely knew that he wanted to be a musician and I mean he went to Cambridge university and and my parents were absolutely thrilled that he that he got into Cambridge and then of course it was devastating to them when just before he took his degree, he decided that he must leave and go he had this opportunity with Joe Boyd to produce his his album and he left the university. But despite the fact that it was a devastating sorrow for them, that he should do this they nevertheless backed him up and they allowed him to do it you know and supported him all the way along the line so I think I think we were very lucky in that way. I don't believe that our parents inevitably, fully understood us in the end because one generation doesn't understand another but in so far as they could they did my mom also composed songs you see so that was where Nick got her ability from I think. Do you remember what your impressions were when you first heard Nick's first album? Oh well, I was very excited but I I always remember the time when we first heard his first songs he had ever composed, he had been away to University in France in Aix en Provence and he came back home and we we always knew he played the guitar, he had done that at school. But he played for his first time when he was what - at 18 or so three songs that he composed himself and that was very thrilling, really because but it was somehow is both thrilling and unexpected but he had at the same time if you can understand totally expected. It was some how an natural progression because it was something that we had grown up with with my mom composing all the time, my parents playing on the piano, Nick playing on the piano, singing all the all the music that had gone all in the family, it was somehow natural, but it was nevertheless exciting and different. How do you account for this tremendous resurgence and Nick's popularity? Well, it's first of all; I wish he had stuck around to see it for himself. But I think the all you can say is that his music was he was always absolutely true to himself. He never pretended with his music. He didn't try to copy anybody else's style. He was inevitably influenced by other people because all artists are - My husband was an artist, always talks about an artist being a new link in an old chain and that's very important. But nevertheless, Nick's music; was entirely true to Nick, he came from a particular type of English background and his music reflects that and somehow because it does, it relates to many people many people talk about the fact that they feel that they really understood Nick. We who actually knew him and loved him felt we didn't understand him at all but many people who never met him feel that they understand him deeply and that I think is because his music. He speaks through his music. Gabrielle, thank you very much. Great pleasure. Joe Boyd, how do you account for the resurgence in Nick Drake's popularity? The fact that it's such a good music. I am and I was shocked that the records didn't sell like this at the time and I insisted with the label, keep the records in the catalogue and eventually in the late 70's, early 80's, they started selling and every year since then sells more and it to me it's just what the music deserves. So when you say, good music, how do you evaluate or how did you at that time determine that this was good music? Well, it's not something you can really intellectualize about I mean I think I have listened to a lot of the music and I never particularly liked the Anglo American singer song writer with guitar mode. I mean that was never some thing that I have warmed to particularly. So the things that I did like were the things that broke through the sort of barrier that I had in my brain about the fact that I don't really like that kind of a music so that if you know I mean within 15 - 20 seconds of putting on Nick's demo tape, I went wow, this is something this is different, this is class So when you look at the musical landscape today, who is the next Nick Drake or who reminds you of Nick? Well, I don't know, it's hard to say. There is no there are lot of people that that had always - I mean it's wonderful to notice that Nick has become influential. But I wouldn't go you know, to me I am more interested in people who sound like themselves, you know, Lucinda Williams somebody like you know nothing to do with Nick Drake although you have to say, Lucinda Williams has done the best Nick Drake cover - Yeah - which one She sang "Which Will" on it's on one of her albums on Elektra "Before Car Wheels on a Gravel Road" it's like her third album I think it's the last track, it's great. How did he affect you as a producer? Well, it was incredible fun because you know, you produce a group and you are you are basically producing the music that's already been arranged and figured out by the group within themselves and you have to do whatever is required to get that down on tape. But Nick, they were always magnificent songs and each one was like a separate project that he and I would talk about well should we have strings on this or should we have percussion or should we have bass or voices or what - you know and so each one was a kind of adventure and the other thing that was fantastic about working on Nick's records was and I mean I am I think a lot of people understand this but some people may be don't. His guitar playing is so fluent and so strong which almost don't notice it. I mean it's just part of the sound of him and his guitar and voice. But if you think about what he is playing and you think about other people who play arpeggio guitar parts you know it's full of little slips and little blurred notes and Nick was just clean as a whistle. And if you put that in the middle of a recording, those guitar parts it's a dream not mix because you can fit things around it. Everything can relate to that central thing of the guitar and that was one of the most rewarding experience that I have ever had as producer as mixing Nick Drake's records. If Nick was alive in 2007, would he be writing and singing about the same things? No one could say you know it's such an impossible question. I mean, you can't separate the music from a man. You know he had a lot of problems and he was unable to overcome them. If he had, he would have been a different person in a way. I am not saying that he was doomed but it I think that it would be fantastic just to watch what Nick would have developed into if he had the peace of mind and the confidence to to keep going as a musician. And the feed back and the the success to keep growing. Because I think he needed that and that was you can almost say that was what killed him, it was the fact that people didn't buy his - you know that was no he was making what he knew was really a wonderful stuff and nobody got it. Do you have a favorite lyric or lyrics from from his work that come to mind, one that have moved you in your life? Oh, so many of them, you know. I put in my book in the preface in front piece of my book I put the lyrics of "Saturday Sun". When I remember people and places that were really so good in their in their way in their way you know it's a nostalgic lyric and just looking back I mean, that's the extraordinary thing for a man in his early 20's to be nostalgic, elegiac lyrics he is extraordinary. It's a bit scary but it's also extraordinary. Well we have to get you on stage in a few minutes. Final question, do you have any particular lasting memory of Nick personally that's most special to you? We used to go around sometimes to a friend's house after sessions, play a game called liar dice which involves poker dice, and shielding what you've got and passing it along to the next person and you have to lie about it. And at first Nick was fascinated by the game, but he wasn't very good at it. So over the course of the next year Nick got pretty good at it and watching his face when he won was wonderful. Joe Boyd enjoy the event tonight. Thanks for joining us. Thank you.