Back in 2009 I chose Nick Drake's River Man as a Sunday music video. Since then his popularity, ironic for an artist who was so obscure in his short lifetime, has shown no sign of abating. His music is almost a cliche as backing for BBC factual programmes these days.
One result of Drake's continued prominence has been the discovery and issuing of the songs that his mother wrote and performed.
TwentyFourBit discusses their importance to her son's work:
As Nick Drake collaborator Joe Boyd has said, the music of his mother, Molly Drake, could provide a key to understanding the origins of the late folk legend’s influential work.
After all, it was with her piano and encouragement that he first composed and recorded early demos to reel-to-reel tape. But more than that, Molly’s tunes share an uncanny resemblance to the tone within her son’s own catalog — a 3-LP run that haunts us to this day.And Willis Music is enthusiastic about them too:
Her songs, rich in their emotion, profound and joyful in equal measure, were never meant for public consumption. Though Mrs. Drake was a wordsmith and pianist of some incredible talent, not to mention a sophisticated and accomplished poet (there is an additional booklet of some 45 poems included here), she was a private and humble woman, a family audience for her writings were enough for her and she showed no inclination to make her talent available on any public platform.Certainly, it is obvious that Nick owed not only his looks but also his shy lyricism to his mother.
It appears these songs were written in the 1930s and 1940s, some in Burma and India where Molly's husband was working, and recorded by him in the 1950s. You can find them and some of her poetry on a 'CD portfolio package' called Molly Drake.