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Thursday, 25 October 2012 06:00

Falling in love with music: 'Bryter Layter' by Nick Drake + Video

Falling in love with music: 'Bryter Layter' by Nick Drake
Written by pj del
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In 2010, David Byrne gave a talk at TED about how architecture helped music evolve. Byrne discussed how context and setting shapes music. In a gothic cathedral, for example, the music "doesn't change key, the notes are long, there's almost no rhythm whatsoever, and the room flatters the music. It actually improves it."

Likewise, seasons affect music. Sometimes, seasons even dictate music, but we're not concerned here with the commercial, cosmetic relationship between, say, winter and "Jingle Bells."

Rather, we're exploring how seasons enhance music, flatter it. In particular, fall.

So, what is fall? The appreciation of melancholia, that's fall. A chance encounter with self-examination or the bearable lightness of being, that's fall. It's also Nick Drake.

I am uneasy listening to Drake's 1970 album "Bryter Layter" in a large group inside a building during a winter night. On the other hand, the perfect environment is two to four close friends at the park during a fall day in the northern hemisphere.

"Bryter Layter" is a dissertation on social exploratory research. Drake pounds curiosity with feathers. The aftermath is a series of diverse and unanswerable questions that fall from the sky like feathers freed after a pillow fight. When fall approaches, we see the leaves change, look within and wonder about all the silly things in our life passing by.

"Bryter Layter" stole all of these emotions from a dreamcatcher, and when we listen to the album during fall it's our chance to steal them back.

Do you hope to find new ways of doing better than your worst? - "Hazy Jane I"

And what will happen in the morning when the world it gets so crowded that you can't look out the window in the morning. - "Hazy Jane II"

Would you love me for my money? - "Northern Sky"

Who knows what a face is for? - "At the Chime of a City Clock"

Even when the line doesn't end with a question mark, it still ends in wonderment. Nick Drake sings with ease and observes his life with detachment. A park, in essence, is me yearning to connect with nature, but understanding that the whole spectacle is beautifully disconnected. I guess that's why I connect parks and fall with Nick Drake. He wonders in a way that only autumn can, as on "One of These Things First":

I could have been a sailor, could have been a cook
A real live lover, could have been a book
I could have been a signpost, could have been a clock
As simple as a kettle, steady as a rock
I could be here and now
I would be, I should be
But how?
I could have been
One of these things first
I could have been
One of these things first

On "Fly," he speculates with autumnal images:

Now if it's time to recompense for what's done
Come, come sit down on the fence in the sun
And the clouds will roll by
And we'll never deny
It's really too hard for to fly

On "Northern Sky," he brings hope to fall:

I never held emotion in the palm of my hand
Or felt sweet breezes in the top of a tree
But now you're here
Brighten my northern sky

Discover more great autumn albums in our "Falling in Love With Music" series.

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