The Quietus - A new rock music and pop culture website

Baker's Dozen

The Hills Are Alive With The Sound Of Music: Benjamin Myers’ Favourite Music
The Quietus , September 29th, 2021 09:41

Music journalist-turned-novelist Benjamin Myers shares the music that made him a writer from The Slits to Slipknot – and why almost all of it is impossible to write to…


Nick Drake – Five Leaves Left

This is probably the perfect album, for me. ‘Cello Song’ will be played until the day I die. I just can’t ever imagine tiring of it.

I think you have to find your way into folk music at your own pace and my entry point was via The Wicker Man soundtrack and Nick Drake, though it didn’t take too long to fully embrace Comus, The Incredible String Band, Nic Jones, Mr Fox and all sorts of dark oddities.

That said, I think Nick Drake transcends folk music and should be considered alongside Blake and Shelley, or J.M.W. Turner even. His music is the epitome of the English poetic-pastoral created by a troubled visionary. There are layers upon layers to the music, and each lyric is a riddle whose meaning is forever just beyond reach. So much of this album is tied in with my relationship with the hidden histories of the English countryside, to which I moved twelve years ago, though I was introduced to Nick’s music by a former girlfriend when I was 22, for which I am forever grateful.

I’ve also been very lucky as I’ve recently got to know Gabrielle Drake, Nick’s one surviving relative and keeper of the flame, and who I have been working with on something of a dream writing commission. Not only is Gabrielle a protective and discerning custodian of his music – his tracks never turn up on ropey folk compilations – but she is also just generally excellent company too. She came to meet me in Hebden Bridge and as we sat talking, I could see Nick Drake there in her face.

There are centuries of lived experience in Five Leaves Left.