First discovered Nick Drake when the Island "Introduction to.." compilation was issued, with a modest fanfare. I have never been so immediately struck by a musician and his songs. They never, ever, fade and in common with the greatest compositions, you can listen again and again and always hear them as fresh as the first time - how this happens, I just don't know, but it does. I stopped off last year in Tanworth-in-Arden (Nick's home and the site of his memorial stone - he was cremated)- it was a beautiful sunny autumn morning, and in looking at the Drake family graves (his mother and father are also buried there) I realised that the essence of Nick's art is that it was a musical embodiment of the beauty of England - an England that is now gone forever - it could not have come from anywhere else.
Recently, the BBC produced a 30 minute documentary on his life which was not as sombre as Patrick Humphries' biography (which I still enjoyed - you just can't write about Nick's life and make it upbeat, unfortunately). Gabrielle Drake (his actress sister) was interviewed and read some of the letters he had sent her from his time at Cambridge University. Incidentally, in a way, I can understand her not wanting to be interviewed for the biography - she apparently has given many interviews over the years to would-be biographers, all of which have come to nothing. This probably seemed like another one. Interestingly, the programme also featured a home recording of Molly (his mother) singing a childrens' song. The source of his unique talent was clear.
I guess the only thing I can add is that I have recommended Nick to, probably, hundreds of people - once they've listened, no one has ever been baffled as to why. If the house caught fire, God forbid, I would save this set of CDs ahead of any others. Buy it - you will NOT be disappointed.