Bryter Layter, Nick Drake
Island Records, November 1, 1970
Track Listing: 1. Introduction, 2. Hazey Jane II, 3. At the Chime of a City Clock, 4. One of These Things First, 5. Hazey Jane I, 6. Bryter Layter, 7. Fly, 8. Poor Boy, 9. Northern Sky, 10. Sunday
Enter at your own risk. The warning should be attached. Listening to a Nick Drake album is not an endeavor to be taken lightly. As the music begins to soak through its façade of tranquility, you stumble upon the hazards. Deep suffering is at play. Each song is an open wound, oozing vulnerability. You may not know it at first, but you have fallen into a trap.
Impossible finger picking provides the sturdy foundation, unbreakable at the core of every song. It is a foundation that emanates serenity, further disguising the danger that is lurking. Flutes sing like sparrows on top of the delicate lace of gently tickled ivory. And then, weaving in and out of it all, as if carried in by nothing more than a breeze of indifference is a voice, airy and warm, inviting and reassuring. It lures the unknowing listener. Lost and weary kindred spirits are easy prey in this trap. I know because it happened to me.
There I was, listening to Bryter Layter in earnest on the streets of San Diego in the middle of the night, wondering how I’d ended up in this strange foreign land. I was alone except for a new friend who whispered to me with a calm reassurance from the car speakers. It was like hearing a voice through a tin can that was attached to the end of a string. The still palm trees surrounded a great unknown and the two of us, Nick and I, were in no hurry to get anywhere.
“And what will happen in the morning when the world it gets so crowded that you can’t look out the window in the morning?”
-from “Hazy Jane II”
I felt an immediate connection to Nick Drake. Maybe we all are alike in the end, each of us a lonely echo calling out for validation, waiting for answers. We are trapped in a blissful state of indecision, like when you dip your toes into the cold Pacific Ocean and walk out, not quite sure if you are ready to take the plunge.
With Nick Drake, perhaps the saddest irony of all is that in death, this beautiful, awkward outsider finally did make it all the way into the place he so desperately longed to be. It is here where he and his music will remain forever. He will never be alone or lost again.