by Trevor Dann
Da Capo Press, 288 pp., $16.95 (paper)
Most Americans of a certain generation were introduced to Nick Drake in 2000 via a Volkswagen commercial featuring the song "Pink Moon," but it's probably safe to say that few of them then extended their interest enough to buy a copy of the album of the same name. Trevor Dann, once head of the BBC's Music Entertainment, has gone to painstaking lengths to present the story of this tragic young Brit, who died in 1974 at the age of 26 due to an accidental overdose of prescription drugs. Dann posits Drake as the Byron of the free love age: privileged, aloof, brilliant, and spectacularly self-destructive. To his credit, the author refuses to romanticize the ambitious but clinically depressed singer-songwriter while simultaneously illustrating the various callous and sloppy ways in which Drake's career was so grotesquely mismanaged. Mixing personal anecdotes, interviews with Drake's former cohorts, and detailed descriptions of Drake's surroundings during various phases of his life, Dann paints as complete a portrait as possible of the man whose life and death pose the eternal question mark. Something broke Drake somewhere along the way, and while Dann has a few ideas, Darker does little to clear the fog.
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