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Mental Illness and Artists - Nick and others
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Lumiere



Joined: 12 Aug 2010
Posts: 84
Location: Indianapolis, US

PostPosted: Sat Oct 30, 2010 11:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Goodness, bmore.
I don't take David Brett's book as biography because it has almost everything of fiction. He took some undeniable facts as birthday and date of death and then wrote in between. The contents have a lot to do with the ones in those celebrities scandalous magazines for sale at the grocery stores cashiers, not very different of his other books, as I learned.
There are not interviews, quotes, just a he-said-she-said text, sources not mentioned. He was highly focused on Nick Drake's sexual orientation, harsh accusations against his family, drugs. I could see very little, almost nothing about Nick as a songwriter, his work, his music.
Fortunately I didn't buy the book, and I don't recommend. Actually I got a little "ride". And I got disgusted.
Biographies are something much more demanding, it's an investigative endeavour. Solid work and credibility, I guess, go together.
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JoeChrisMorris



Joined: 18 Jun 2007
Posts: 786
Location: New Jersey

PostPosted: Sun Oct 31, 2010 3:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

its gotten terrible reviews on Amazon. People are really disgusted with what he wrote about Nick, 2 one star reviews on the site last I checked
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Midnightmoon



Joined: 02 Aug 2010
Posts: 34

PostPosted: Mon Nov 01, 2010 10:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Matt (admin) wrote:
Stubeedoobee wrote:
No one will ever know


That pretty much sums it up for me. I've started replies to this thread several times and deleted them because I wasn't quite sure what I wanted to say. I'm still not exactly but it goes something like this...

None of us (with a couple of exceptions on the forum) ever met Nick and speculating about what may or may not have been 'wrong' with him (based on what we've read and the labels medicine has since invented for various conditions) seems pointless to me and a tiny bit distasteful.

I understand (to some degree) the 'need to know' when it comes to artists we admire but I'm not sure knowing that Nick should have been diagnosed with 'X' would make much difference. The overall feeling I get is that, especially in the UK, we're just not very good at dealing with people who have emotional difficulties of any kind (let alone being good at asking for hep if we have them ourselves) and that's sad.

Nick was clearly troubled to some degree but many who met him (Robert Kirby included) point out that he was often happy as well.



Oh boy, let me first say that it's actually taken me days to get back here because I'm having an even harder time than Matt trying to figure out what I want to say (or should have said).

(Secondly, although others handle their posting-while-red-wine-drinking quite well, I should probably stay away. I do become a bit... blunt?)

Thirdly, I've dealt with depressive friends, I've been the depressive friend and when nothing works, people seem to throw hands up in the air and say: What's wrong with you, snap out of it already. I really didn't mean it in the harsh way it sounded.

I suppose what happens is that when faced with something that's hard to pinpoint, one wishes to find a "logical" explanation. A logical explanation for an emotional issue strikes me as a bit of an oxymoron. So basically I come here, toss out some terms, then toss out different ones to contradict myself Smile

I also shudder to think that I've cast myself as the one labeling things as being a (medically recognized) "condition." I actually believe quite strongly that there's sort of an "epidemic" of "over-diagnoses." If that means we are understanding human behaviour better, i.e. just categorizing it, then fine. If it means: just take these pills because there is something wrong with you, then no.

I guess what I was trying to say, initially, is that although I understand Nick was often happy and had fun, it was the odd behaviour of his later years, which of course I've only read about, that struck me as too strong to brushed off as: oh just a little disappointed.

This may all be pointless Wink (although, wouldn't that mean reading about him, writing about him is also pointless?) Anyway, one of the first things I ever heard about Nick was the way he would sometimes turn away from people when they addressed him and I just thought: how interesting. So I read more.
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JoeChrisMorris



Joined: 18 Jun 2007
Posts: 786
Location: New Jersey

PostPosted: Tue Nov 02, 2010 2:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think you ought to know that I'm feeling very depressed Cool


Here I am, brain the size of a planet..
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bmore



Joined: 14 Dec 2006
Posts: 633
Location: Suihua, Heilongjiang Province, China

PostPosted: Tue Nov 02, 2010 10:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Joe:
A sure cure for depression is to obtain three (3)bottles
of wine. Drink two (2) bottles of said wine. (Bottles
preferably of at least 1 litre each.)

Save one for the next morning. (or whenever u wakeup)

Drink third bottle.

Go get some more.

Repeat as needed.

If ever you run out of wine or money, or have to do
something silly like go to work, then I'm afraid
you're just fuc*ed, untill such time as you have more
money and/or wine.

Or you could do like I did... I made 120 liters of
homemade wine, so I'm good till prob Christmas.
(But then I'm totally fuc*ed)

Regards, Arthur.

This has been known to shrink anyones brain.
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Ostar



Joined: 10 Nov 2006
Posts: 210
Location: Enschede, Netherlands

PostPosted: Sat Nov 06, 2010 8:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

That's like mending your broken car by tearing your drivers license. Shocked
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bmore



Joined: 14 Dec 2006
Posts: 633
Location: Suihua, Heilongjiang Province, China

PostPosted: Sun Nov 07, 2010 1:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

If yer car is bust, then u don't need no more yer licence to drive. Arrow


For you can ride a bike, or walk, or crawl.
Or just sit very still, with your hands folded in your lap, and think.
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Lumiere



Joined: 12 Aug 2010
Posts: 84
Location: Indianapolis, US

PostPosted: Sun Nov 07, 2010 6:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Laughing Hey, bmore, you are a talented laughter maker! Laughing

Sometimes I do like that, just sit still... And still.... is very funny... Laughing
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bmore



Joined: 14 Dec 2006
Posts: 633
Location: Suihua, Heilongjiang Province, China

PostPosted: Sun Nov 07, 2010 6:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Indeed, stillness can be very, very funny Exclamation
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Nossuri



Joined: 30 May 2007
Posts: 676
Location: Netherlands

PostPosted: Wed Nov 10, 2010 2:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Nossuri wrote:
Thanks. A well done "comic".

B.t.w. in the same context you could see the new project of singer-songwriter Susan McKeown, Singing in the Dark.


Here's a recent review from this album:
Quote:
http://www.irishphiladelphia.com/node/2535
Published: Nov 4, 2010
By: Jeff Meade

The defining moment of "Singing in the Dark," Susan McKeown's moving meditation on the relationship between deeply debilitating mental illness and soaring creativity, comes toward the end of the recording, in a musical adaptation of the Welsh poet Gwyneth Lewis's "Angel of Depression."

The words McKeown sings, Lewis's words, are brutally unsentimental: "Don't say it's an honour to have fought with depression's angel. It always wears the face of my loved ones as it tears the breath from my solar plexus, grinds my face in the ever-resilient dirt. Oh yes, I’m broken but my limp is the best part of me. And the way I hurt."

When McKeown hurls herself into the word "broken," she tears through the upper registers like a razor blade through silk. In that single harrowing moment, you can begin to see depression for what it is at its worst, a soul-destroying cancer.

This is strong stuff, in an album full of strong stuff. In "Singing in the Dark," McKeown and her musical colleagues Frank London and Lisa Gutkin take on the daunting task of putting difficult words to music. The album celebrates the work of poets such as Anne sexton, Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill and and Theodore Roethke. Lord Byron makes an appearance. So do Leonard Cohen and Chilean singer-songwriter Violetta Parra. A recording industry pitchman might describe it as a tribute to troubled souls. It is far more than that.

McKeown says she was inspired to make this album after reading Kay Jamison's book, "Touched with Fire: Manic-Depressive Illness and the Artistic Temperament." She also met with familiy members and friends of those suffering from mental illness, and she tapped into the melancholic themes that run like a dark vein through much of her native Irish music. Recording began in a studio on Ireland's Achill island in August 2008. Thus emerged McKeown's exploration of mental illness as the wellspring of creative genius.

The source material is indisputably rich: Take, for example, Anne Sexton's "Her Kind," in which the poet casts herself in the role of madwoman-witch: "A woman like that is not a woman, quite. I have been her kind." Or Roethke's poem, "In a Dark Time," which ponders life at the extremes but ends on a transcendent note: "A man goes far to find out what he is—Death of the self in a long, tearless night, All natural shapes blazing unnatural light."

Most of this material is not, by nature, "hummable." None of this would work if the music didn't just hold together, but hold its own with the world-class poetry. This, it does—in spades.

Take, for example, "The Nameless One," by 19th-century Irish poet James Clarence Mangan. With verses like the following, it's hardly upbeat:

"Him grant a grave to, ye pitying noble,
Deep in your bosoms: there let him dwell!
He, too, had tears for all souls in trouble,
Here and in hell."

Amazingly, McKeown and colleagues deliver a wonderfully folky tune to accompany those words. The bouncy banjo treatment reminds me of Woody Guthrie's "Gonna Get Through This World" on the group's 2006 Klezmatics collaboration, "Wonder Wheel."

"The Crazy Woman," based on the poem by Gwendolyn Brooks, is a revelation. If you think about the opening lines of the poem, "I shall not sing a May song. A May song should be gay. I'll wait until November I shall not sing a May song. A May song should be gay. I'll wait until November and sing a song of gray," you may not be able to hear a jazzy little piano lounge tune in it. McKeown and friends did, and it's a treat.

I was wondering where I'd first heard the dolorous "In Darkness Let Me Dwell," written by the lutenist John Dowland. It was on Sting's 2006 CD, "Songs from the Labyrinth." Susan McKeown's version will easily make you forget Sting ever tried his hand at Madrigal singing.

"The Crack in the Stairs," based on the work of Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill, is a bit more challenging, both for the singer and the listener. It's a dissonant modern piano piece written by Irish composer Elaine Agnew. Give it a chance. It fits the bleak material.

And if not that, there's more. The Latin standard "Gracias a la Vida," by Violetta Parra, is a pretty piece. You may remember a Joan Baez version. McKeown's version of Leonard Cohen's "Anthem," is performed with soulful elegance.

That any song on the album would be sung otherwise is unthinkable. McKeown at her best is always balanced right on the edge: fragility on the one side, strength on the other. It's perfect for material that is so emotionally weighted—and for painting a portrait of life at the extremes.
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JoeChrisMorris



Joined: 18 Jun 2007
Posts: 786
Location: New Jersey

PostPosted: Thu Nov 11, 2010 3:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Won't you give me some more of that ol' Janz Spirit! Smile

like a lemon wrapped around a gold brick ... ouch!!
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Nossuri



Joined: 30 May 2007
Posts: 676
Location: Netherlands

PostPosted: Thu Mar 29, 2012 8:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Nossuri wrote:
moonrider wrote:
If anyone is interested in reading a very good book on artists and mental illness (especially depression), try "Touched With Fire" by Kay Redfield Jamison.


I knew that name was familair; I also read about her when I came up with the new project of Susan McKeown. This is the mail I got from Susan today and you'll see Kay Redfield Jamison is mentioned in it:
Quote:
Folks,

The Singing in the Dark CDs arrived today. Some of the songs from the album have just been put up on myspace and I invite you to be among the first to hear them at: www.myspace.com/susanmckeown

I'm thrilled to be launching the album in a rare event on Saturday at Symphony Space with author and psychiatrist Kay Jamison (Touched with Fire: Manic Depressive Illness and the Artistic Temperament), New York Public Library Director of Public Programs Paul Holdengräber, and an eleven piece band featuring Lindsey Horner, Shahzad Ismaily, Dana Lyn, Ryan McGiver, Allison Miller, Isabelle O'Connell, Eamon O'Leary, Lorin Sklamberg, Sonelius Smith, Jason Sypher and Doug Wieselman.

I first wrote to Kay seven years ago to tell her that I wanted to make a recording of songs inspired by her book. She responded immediately and enthusiastically and we subsequently met and corresponded. She wrote a beautiful introductory essay for the album. Her autobiography An Unquiet Mind is not her only New York Times bestseller.
Tickets for the event can be obtained here: http://www.symphonyspace.org/event/6529-singing-in-the-dark

Over the coming days I will be stuffing envelopes with CDs for those who ordered it via Kickstarter. After that I'll be fulfilling orders received through wwwsusanmckeown.com

I'm told John Schaefer will be playing songs from the album on his radio show New Sounds on Friday at 11pm which can be heard at wnyc.org, and the first article about the album appeared yesterday in The Irish Examiner (U.S.):
http://www.irishexaminerusa.com/mt/2010/10/26/shadows_of_humor_and_sorrow.html

Last weekend Scott Simon interviewed me for NPR's Weekend Edition (the segment was pre-empted in New York because of a pledge drive). We were talking about Songs from the East Village, the new world music album for families for that I produced.
You can hear that interview here:http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=130727583

All the best,
Susan


Susan is working on a new album: http://www.pledgemusic.com/projects/susanmckeown/
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