northern sky

Picking up the theme of yesterday’s blog, one artist whose music seems to be essential to any tv programme is, of course, Nick Drake.

Extracts from his songs made it into the first two episodes of BBC2’s ‘The 70s’ – ‘Sunday’ in programme 1, and ‘Cello Song’ in programme 2.

Perhaps I’m particularly attuned to picking out Nick’s music as I know pretty much every bar of every song he recorded.

But it was unusual to hear Messrs. Drake and Cale (as highlighted yesterday) almost side by side in programme 2.

Famously, Cale added a little of his gold dust to two of Nick’s songs on ‘Bryter Layter’ – ‘Northern Sky’ and ‘Fly.’

For my BBC radio documentary, originally broadcast in 1998, Joe Boyd told me the great story of how Cale heard the tracks, and demanded to work on them.

Boyd rang Nick at his flat in Hampstead to explain that Cale was on his way over in a taxi cab.

A few days later, the duo appeared at Sound Techniques in Chelsea, with Cale having ordered up various instruments – notably a celeste and Hammond organ.

‘Northern Sky’ is up there with my favourite Nick tracks, but ‘Fly’ with Cale’s haunting viola part is also a gem.

A marvellous collaboration, and further evidence of Cale’s particular genius as a musician and arranger.

Nick Drake – Northern Sky

Nick Drake – Fly

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