Since his untimely death in 1974 at the age of 26, singer-songwriter Nick Drake has not only gained a huge international audience, which eluded him during his lifetime, but has come to represent the epitome of English romanticism. Drake’s small but much-loved body of work has evoked comparisons with Blake, Keats, Vaughan Williams and Delius, placing him within a long line of English mystical Romantics. Yet upon closer inspection Drake’s work betrays a myriad of international, cosmopolitan influences and approaches that seem to confound his status as archetypal English troubadour.
Nick Drake's music itself hints at a specific English landscape of the kind that he would have wandered through during his lifetime. Yet his interest in blues, jazz and Eastern mysticism imply a broader conception of English national identity in the late 1960s, one far removed from mere parochial nostalgia. Similarly, the framing of Drake’s music after his death has done much to situate him as a particular kind of English artist, integrating American counterculture, the English class system and a nostalgic re-imagining of the hippy era for contemporary audiences.
Nick Drake: Dreaming England explores how ideas of Englishness have come to be so intimately associated with the cult singer songwriter. Essential reading for any fan of Nick Drake, the book will also appeal to those interested in folk music or English national identity.