Sunday, 25 November 2012

Nick Drake & The Barbara Connection


This young man was a genius. He wrote some of the most staggeringly beautiful songs ever written in the English language, and he left us way, way too early. He recorded just three albums, and for many years his legacy lay almost forgotten, which would have been a crime against music had it remained so.

History and the die-hard, really die-hard fans like to dictate that Nick was a miserable, gloomy person who spent much of his time feeling depressed. 'Black-eyed dog' and all that. In fact it's pretty evident when listening to him sing this that he's taking the piss! I suppose being gay, and having parents--the Colonial type--who probably considered homosexuality some kind of affliction--might not have helped. During one bad period of depression they bundled him off to a psychiatric ward--and for all their dosh let him stay on a ward with genuine mental patients.

I knew Michel Bidault, Nick's French boyfriend--he ran a restaurant near avenue Montaigne. Michel spoke of a completely different Nick--depressed only when he had to return to his gloomy home and oppressive parents. Otherwise he was a typical twenty-something. He liked to smoke spliffs, and he could drink most people under the table--he was a big lad, well over six-feet. But how those die-hard fans HATE stories such as Nick walking around in just a towel after his morning shower, or actually having fun!

The Barbara connection? Well, he was a fan. He loved 'Dis quand reviendras-tu?'. He and Michel went to see Cora Vaucaire a few weeks before he died, when he was staying on a barge on the Seine. His last 'performance'--just strumming his guitar and singing a ditty for fun--was at the Ecluse, where Barbara started her career.

Officially, Nick died on the 25th. His mother said she'd found him at around noon, slumped across his bed. He had NOT committed suicide, otherwise he would have been IN the bed. This was his mum trying to protect herself, though the dear lady had nothing to reproach herself for--there's every reason to believe Nick died before midnight after taking a couple of anti-depressants too many.

Of course, he should never have died at all.

'It was that house that did it,' Michel said. 'And those nagging parents didn't help. Had he been with me, things might have turned out very differently.'


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