About 60 years ago, Nick Drake’s mother was recorded at home by her husband, singing her own songs onto reel-to-reel tape; three were also cut directly onto single vinyl discs. The recordings were meant for home use only, but now – and after about three years of careful restoration – the whole archive of Molly’s songs can be heard by all. According to Joe Boyd, she’s the missing link in the Nick Drake story.
Much like his tragically short life, Nick Drake's music was defined by a beauty that was always entangled with bittersweet sadness. Though he only lived to see 26, the all too tiny body of work he left behind was enough to move and mystify generations of listeners. As it often is with the work of those who were ahead of their time and left the mortal plane too soon, we're left poring over Drake's slight discography, wondering where his enchanting melancholia came from and how it grew into some of the most plainspoken and beautiful songwriting of his day and beyond.
At the end of 2013, Ba Da Bing Records helped bring this impressive set of home recordings to a larger audience. Molly Drake was originally put out in limited edition by Squirrel Thing, but now it’s available wider and on vinyl and it’s time you heard it. These are the home recordings of Nick Drake’s mother. They’re intimate, sometimes hissy, recordings, with Molly’s voice and piano weaving through 19 brief songs.
This is surely the most unexpected, strangely compelling release in years – a home recording of self-composed songs made in the 1950s and 60s by Molly Drake, the wife of a successful Warwickshire businessman and mother of Nick Drake, the struggling singer-songwriter who acquired legendary status after dying of an overdose of antidepressants in 1974, aged 26. Nick Drake found posthumous fame thanks to his fragile, haunting songs, and his mother was clearly an influence. As his producer Joe Boyd has written, she was "the missing link in the Nick Drake story – there, in the piano chords, are the roots of Nick's harmonies".