Monday, August 28, 2006

The Best Album Ever Written About Clinical Depression

The late Nick Drake might be held in the highest regard by singer-songwriters of all stripes now, but in his all-too-brief lifetime, he was a troubled soul perenially plagued by clinical depression and an overwhelming lack of self-esteem.

However, what constituted an unsettled persona also made for some of the finest songs ever put down onn record. Drake's thoughtfully constructed songs were suffused with a sombre and dark elegance, perfect backdrops for his stark confessions of chronic despondency, broken relationships, abject depression and mortality.

The depth of his introspective songs remains unmatched even today, and the one work that best encapsulates his singular artistry has to be his final album, the overwhelmingly harrowing "Pink Moon".

Locking himself in the studio for two sleepless days and nights in late 1971, Drake embarked on recording sessions for what is arguably one of the most morbid and despondent albums in 20th-century music history.

The songs on "Pink Moon", all shot through with a palpable sense of trepidation, offered a too-close-for-comfort scrutiny of Drake's final breakdown. Its sheer sombreness and inherent sense of despair and defeat had absolutely no precedents; indeed, it has been cited by contemporary pain merchants as the most single most important influence on their works.

Songs like the title track, "Things Behind the Sun", "Harvest Breed", "Road" and "From the Morning" are unmatched in their sheer emotional weight and their decidedly bleak accounts of mortality, destiny, melancholia and hopelessness.

Devastating through and through, "Pink Moon" is the sort of album which shouldn't be listened to with razor blades lying around.


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