Friday, 8 March 2013

Molly Drake - Molly Drake


At certain times in life, the best thing to do is look back. Personally speaking, my childhood was fantastic, holidays to Disney World, football with friends and non-stop watching of Toy Story 1 and 2. It was the latter that hit the young audience with Sarah McLachlan’s "When Somebody Loved Me". There's something about that song that opens my emotions up. From Randy Newman's conceptual lyricism to McLachlan’s operatic vocal, it sparked a moment in my childhood that has always stayed with me - the saddest moment in CGI history. 

The feeling of abandonment, depression and sadness are often brought up with the Drake family name. After years of absolution, Nick Drake's music reached an audience of millions. Pink Moon is often regarded a singer-songwriter classic with Nick himself being one of Britons best loved unsung poetic heroes. We stop to talk about him, in shops, pubs, bars and even on the street. At his peak, Nick was nobody, with a little help from capitalism Nick's music has reached heights he would never have imagined. There's talk of Nick's influence on modern music, but who influenced him. Other than Scotland's finest songwriter Bert Jansch, it was his mother, Molly Drake.

"Love isn't a right it's got to be earned; love isn't a right that’s got to be learned. Maybe you spend your natural life, loving husband or loving wife, why are you loving and was your love returned?" sings Molly Drake on the fourth track "Love Isn't a Right" from a collection of unreleased tracks under the simple title, Molly Drake. She is of course the Mother of Nick - Like Mother, like son. This is the music of Molly Drake, a piano, a voice, and a handful of lyrics. Nick scrapped the orchestration for Pink Moon, keeping his third album minimalistic and apart from his trademark guitar featured one overdub, other than guitar and vocal, there was one piano riff towards the end of the self-titled first track. An ode to his Mother's music perhaps, or perhaps not. I'd like to think Pink Moon is as much dedicated and directed towards his Mother, as his love. So now I’m sitting in front of my laptop 37 years after Nick's death, and 20 years after Molly's. They say that no Mother should outlive her offspring; unfortunately Molly lost her shy and talented son at a young age. It's what make's Molly Drake such a challenging listen.

Knowing both Drake's have past, listening to their music becomes something of a saddening experience. Posthumous releases are often along the lines of ‘remembrance’; Molly's music is generally lovely, with happy lyrics and feminine poetry at its heart. Written and performed when Nick was at a very young age, and when the Drake family was most likely at its happiest. "I Remember" is one of the most powerful tracks on the album. It's what speared me to mention "When Somebody Loved Me" above. Molly's lyrics are often in a story-telling fashion with a blunt coda, a style rubbed off on Nick's song-writing. For instance, she sings: "For I remember having fun, two happy hearts that beat as one. When I had thought that we were we, but we were you and me," - such delicate song-writing shouldn’t be un-noticed.

"Little Weaver Bird" is another short and sophisticated track. The recording consists of three recordings put together, and this is clearly noticeable on the final verse where Molly sings: "Oh I can sympathise with a heart that is distressed, but every bird who's wise will build herself a nest." Molly's lyrics are often warming and inspiring, for instance on the track "Dream Your Dreams", where she sings: "So dream your dreams and let them keep out the cold, dreaming dreams a heart can never grow old." There's something unparallelled about female singer-songwriters that are simplistic and minimalistic, like Vashti Bunyan, Joan Baez and Sibylle Baier. "What can a song do to you?" asks Molly on the track of the same name, "Can it bring back the spring in December?" The power of song is much at large in Molly's lyricism, "A Sound" being another example of her passion for music.

Molly Drake consists of 19 tracks, many of which surfaced late last year through Bryter Music. These tracks are being released through Squirrel Thing Recordings, aimed at uncovering the nearly-forgotten music. These tracks are more than often pretty, blossoming piano tracks with Molly's lovely voice which was passed down to Nick. The final track "The FirstDay" is among her best on this compilation - "This is the first day of the rest of my life, could be the first day of the best of my life." Her lyrics are outstanding at the best of times, and memorable at the worst. Theirs an earful of talent and passion in Molly's song-writing and performance. This was recorded by her husband Rodney Drake in the 1950s, the family home of Far Leys in Tanworth. Now home to another family, the memories of the Drake family can be experienced through music. 

A song about growing up and abandonment in a Disney movie is enough to make you cry. The undermining feeling of sadness and depression hit us all hard, whether it is through a social life, or through imagery. Music will always be the deepest effect on emotions. The fact Molly Drake is a collection of spring / summer songs is irrelevant. This is the Mother of Nick Drake, and her music was his major inspiration, after all she did bring him into the world. It's a tragedy that Nick died so young, and an even bigger tragedy that his music never reaped the awards in his life time. Everyone that listens to Molly Drake will be thinking about her son. Take away all we know about their lives, their deaths and how talented Nick Drake was, his Mother's music stands alone as an individualistic easy listening and simplistic song-writing collection in the 1950s. Molly Drake’s music is fitting of emotional scenes in Disney movies.
~Eddie

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