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Letter to a kid about Nick Drake's Pink Moon

Tuesday 10/10/23

Dear Remy,

It is your friend Colin in Boston again. I was thinking about you over the weekend after your dad told me you were going to the viewing for your friend. I know that was incredibly hard. It was the right thing to go, as painful as it was. I'm sure your dad was proud of you.


While you were there, I was thinking about you and how I would have felt, and how much something like music helps us in life in all kinds of ways. In understanding ourselves, the world, the people we know; it can inspire us, soothe us, help us to rally, to try something new. It can help us process pain. It can make us feel less lonely. Help us locate hope when we think there isn't any hope to find.


No matter how low we are, music can make a difference. And no matter how happy we are, too.


I wanted to share just one work of music with you that has meant a lot to me, and I think it might mean something to you, too.


It takes less than a half hour to listen to it, but if you get a chance, trust me and try it. Don't do anything else while you listen. If you have headphones, maybe use those. Don't search the web, don't listen to one of your dad's stories about a new saw of his (I'm joking--he probably doesn't do a lot of saw talk, but then again, I'm obviously not there).


Just be present. Just be.


That sounds so simple, right?


But maybe it's not that simple at all. And I'm positive it's really important.


I don't know if you have Spotify or Amazon music--which comes with Amazon Prime, I think--but you can also go on YouTube and find the whole thing. It's a record by a man from England named Nick Drake called Pink Moon.


Nick Drake only lived to be twenty-six-years-old. He had a lot of sadness in his life and died in 1974, so the year before your dad was born. He only had three albums. Records. I don't know if you know that term, but you probably do.


I'm not sure what you normally listen to. I was going to ask your dad last night but I didn't hear from him. I know he was fond of the likes of Winger and Poison back in the day, and you should definitely tease him about that. To get an idea of what your dad was into, look up "Every Rose Has Its Thorn" on YouTube.


Wow, right?


Anyway...


Pink Moon has been called the most depressing album ever made. That's sort of what people just automatically say about it. I was a few years older than you--well, five or six--when I learned about Nick Drake. And I think I was guilty for far too long of just going along with the so-called prevailing wisdom about this record. Because that prevailing wisdom is completely wrong. You can't be more wrong about something, pretty much.


I'm not very proud of that. Because when I really listened to it--and I was fully present--what I experienced, and return to now again and again, is the most joyous work of music I know.


Joy doesn't have to mean happy. Joy is bigger. It's richer. It's more important. I think joy is the most important thing in life. Finding it. Sharing it. Helping others find and share it. Joy is being present. It's helping yourself. It's trying to help your family, your friends, your classmates, people you meet just once. People you haven't met yet and may never meet, with the joy you help foster (that means make and grow) in the world.


Nick Drake told his mother that more than anything, he wanted to make music that helped people. I think it's fitting that something with this reputation for being so dark is in reality filled with so much light. Beauty. Hope. Wisdom. Peace. Strength. Joy. Acceptance.


Acceptance doesn't mean giving up or giving in. It means giving yourself a new chance for something to happen. To make happen.


There's a little bit of piano on the first song, but everything else is just voice and guitar.


It's the sound of human connection, Remy. That includes how we're connected to ourselves. Because being connected to yourself can be lot harder than it sounds.


But if we're not connected to who we are--who we really and truly are--it's really hard to know joy, let alone help others know joy. To have joy. To be joy.


I can't listen to "Which Will" and not cry. They are tears of gratitude that there's beauty in this world, and truth, and there isn't anything out there that can change how important those two things are.


No matter how ugly things get or can be. We still have those beams of light. If we make sure that we're someone who looks for them.


So I wanted to share this with you. I wish more people knew about it--I mean really knew about it--so that they could share it with each other.


See what you think. See what you feel.


And if you think and feel like I do about what you hear, maybe share it with someone else yourself.


Love,

Colin



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