i've been thinking lately of nick drake. as with most music i've experienced in my lifetime, nick drake has left quite a profound, original, and unique mark on me and my life. a boyfriend i had years ago fell quite in love with him and his music while we were dating. it sounds harmless, but really -- i feel it changed him into someone unrelatable. he put this man on such a pedastal, i felt no one alive (as ND was dead at this point) could compete with him, and i think that scared -- or, for choice of a better word, intimidated -- me. every day, all day (we were in the car a lot, as he lived quite far out of town) mr. drake blasted from the speakers of his truck, with the occasional, albeit strange, intermission, in the form of what some may call 'gangsta rap.' needless to say, being the 15-year-old girl that i was, i craved something else to go along with that charming combo. say, some britney spears, 80s classics, weezer, ANYTHING. but he wouldn't budge. he was convinced that we would have some magical, religious, or other-worldly experience just by listening to this man. he basically (and quite forcefully) forbade my listening to anything else, because it would 'tarnish my spirit.'
although i can certainly relate with his love for nick drake now, his pedastal blinded me, imbittered me. i can safely say i grew to hate nick drake during that time period. i feel this was a natural response, as most things that are forced upon us tend to end up on the other end of our contempt and resentment. his efforts produced the reverse effect he had wished for, and i literally cared to listen to ANYTHING other than this admittedly legendary musician.
one day, however, he came to my house bearing gifts. gifts in the form of the otherwise as yet unheard of musician, elliott smith. we were in the TV room of the ontario house, and i remember the first song i heard. 'angeles.' i'm listening to it now, and i swear, those first few haunting notes -- they take me somewhere else. they took me somewhere else that day, too -- the first day i heard elliott smith. i didn't know it then, but i probably could have guessed -- that this man, this musician, would provide me endless comfort and endless inspiration. i'd sit up for hours, into the very early morning, reading his lyrics like poetry. sweet adeline was ever-present in my internet browser. it was my comfort, my calling, my beauty in life. his words were my escape, my haven from the melancholy swirling around me, the ending of friendships, the bleakness i had let my life become. i saw everything in gray -- but elliott was the one who was able to paint some color back into my life, my soul. he made me better and made me realize that while i was different, and the path i had chosen for the time being was different, i was relatable. i related with him, and he somehow, in some distant way, related with me. and that's all i needed at that point.
those times with that boyfriend have come and gone. i've moved on from him and his musical rules -- and life rules -- (and i think he has too). i've reunited with most of the friends i'd lost, in some way or another. i traded in tears and cold wooden floors for gut-wrenching laughter and dances at the duck pond. and, as high school came to an end, i traded all of that in for the university life of late nights studying, and late nights at the bar. for huge groups of friends and drama and tears and joy. and as i've left all of that behind, i've moved on to work and adult-hood, though never letting go of my musical comfort, elliott smith.
so i'll give 'first boyfriend' the credit for introducing me to my all-time favorite music man. and now that i'm far away from those trying times, i've found myself with quite an affinity for nick as well. it took time and distance and a new and different life to be able to see him for what he really was, and to appreciate him. but i am never-endingly glad that's where i am today. 'northern sky,' 'man in a shed,' and 'saturday sun' will always move me. maybe even comfort me. but the difference between then and now is, the melodies take me back in time, to the happy place i can remember about 2001-2003. no more yelling, no more depression, no more control. just happiness. freedom. and beauty. and it's then that i can see 'first boyfriend' in that light as well, and it brings me peace. it almost brings me joy. there is reason in life, and i believe i've lived lots of different stories and lots of different perspectives.
the amazing thing is, all of that comes together to make me, me. realizing these things about my past makes it so much easier to love myself for who i am and what i like. everything just makes more sense this way.