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Nick Drake: The Life

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Nick was sitting at the piano or with a guitar, making suggestions, and Robert was sitting over there, writing, and Robert would say: ‘Well, how about this instead of that?

You believe that the problem of turning yourself from an amateur into a professional can be solved merely by transferring yourself from Cambridge to somewhere where you are surrounded by, and under the influence of, professionals in your chosen field. Is it fair to assume, because Nick was there for three years after the last album, he went walking there, and if I walked there, I’d be sort of walking in his spirit? Over the course of 1970, the year that Bryter Layter was recorded, he completed, I think, sixteen albums – an awful lot.

But he was passive – and there was no suggestion that Nick was mentally unwell as a teenager, that there was something larger militating against his future success. My last question, which is another hindsight question, is: had Nick experienced enough success, even if it was on a cult level or making number thirty, as you say, do you think that might have offset his growing psychological difficulties enough for him to produce more music? Now, that’s not a large number, that’s not enough to get you into the charts – but it’s not nothing.

So let’s just keep going, because if we don’t he might end up just being at home without much idea of what to do with his future next summer’, or whatever the timeframe was when they started worrying about this. So I think that was a more specific area of conflict for Joe: ‘Why are these instrumentals on here when I know you’ve got another good song? So Nick must have felt deeply frustrated, especially – as I said earlier – because he had been led to believe that it was going to create ripples.Despite his disappointment at not having worked on it, he supported Nick’s prerogative in eschewing arrangements and later stated: “I think it’s his greatest work, by far. What were you trying to bring to this biography that’s lacking in so many popular music biographies?

RMJ: I think the most important assumption or rumour about Nick that I wanted to clarify is the extent to which he took drugs.So I think by the time he got back from France, and before he went to Cambridge, he was committed to a future in songwriting.

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