Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The Longest Year

I don't believe in coincidences.  Ever.  God is purposeful in the most minute of details.  So as I sat at my desk working this afternoon, just like I did one year ago today, and this song came on, I knew it wasn't by chance.  Nor was it an accident.  I recognized the voice as Nick Drake's but I can't say I'd ever really paid attention to it before.  But today, it resonated with me.  So I looked into the lyrics.

A day once dawned from the ground
Then the night she fell
And the air was beautiful
The night she fell all around.
So look see the days
The endless coloured ways
And go play the game that you learnt
From the morning.
And now we rise
And we are everywhere
And now we rise from the ground
And see she flies 
And she is everywhere 
See she flies all around 
So look see the sights 
The endless summer nights 
And go play the game that you learnt 
From the morning.


Here it is if you'd like to take a listen. 

And then I wondered about Nick Drake.  
There are two of his songs with which I have more familiarity.
There's this one, that is on the Garden State soundtrack.
Love that movie.  

And there's this one from the Volkswagen commercial from many years ago.  Truth be told, this is where I first heard Drake's sumptuous voice.  His voice made me want to hear more.  So about the time this ad was out, we bought the album which contains this title track:  Pink Moon.
It takes my breath away.

But today, as I thought about the man attached to such beautiful talent, I remembered a tiny bit of information about him. I knew that he was no longer alive, that he had died during the 70s. I also knew that he didn't have a huge body of work, since he was rather young when his life came to an end. And that was the sum total of what I knew. So I looked into his life on Wikipedia. Where else, right? And I was so moved by what I read. 

Here's an excerpt:

Nicholas Rodney "Nick" Drake (19 June 1948 – 25 November 1974) was an English singer-songwriter and musician, known for his acoustic guitar-based songs. He failed to find a wide audience during his lifetime...
By 1972, he had recorded two more albums...neither sold more than 5,000 copies on initial release.
Drake's reluctance to perform live, or be interviewed, contributed to his lack of commercial success. There is no known footage of the adult Drake; he was only ever captured in still photographs and in home footage from his childhood.
Drake suffered from depression, particularly during the latter part of his young life. This was often reflected in his lyrics. On completion of his third album, 1972's Pink Moon, he withdrew from both live performance and recording, retreating to his parents' home in rural Warwickshire. On 25 November 1974, Drake died from an overdose of amitriptyline, a prescribed antidepressant; he was 26 years old. Whether his death was an accident or suicide has never been resolved.

How tragic. How sad. And here I am, nearly forty years later, mourning a man whose entire life on Earth existed before I was even a glimmer in my mother's eye. And his music, his life's work, is ministering to my soul. 

Since I've made the decision to speak loudly about my struggles with mental illness, and to advocate for the much-needed conversation on this topic, I've been contacted by numerous people, both in person and online:

"Thanks for sharing your story." 

"I've struggled for the last 10 years." 

"I have two family members who struggle and won't get help."

"I'm afraid to tell my family about my struggles."

If anything, these words, and others like them, have strengthened my resolve to keep talking. 

One year ago, today, was the last full day my nephew, Derek, lived on earth. He died in a car accident sometime in the early morning hours of last December 19th. As this first anniversary of his death comes, and goes, I've chosen a Nick Drake song that I found today in Derek's memory.

And I don't believe it was a coincidence that I found it. 

'Cello Song

Strange face, with your eyes
So pale and sincere.
Underneath you know well
You have nothing to fear.
For the dreams that came to you when so young
Told of a life
Where spring is sprung.

You would seem so frail
In the cold of the night
When the armies of emotion
Go out to fight.
But while the earth sinks to its grave
You sail to the sky
On the crest of a wave.

So forget this cruel world
Where I belong
I'll just sit and wait
And sing my song.
And if one day you should see me in the crowd
Lend a hand and lift me
To your place in the cloud.

I'll see you when it's time, Beautiful Boy.