Northern Sky by Nick Drake is just one of the most beautiful songs ever written.
There can be no doubt about that but what sets it above pretty much everything else is the actual recording of that song.
It’s full on and full of life. This is mainly thanks to John Cale’s added instrumentation and production values.
The record company and Joe Boyd – Drake’s manager/mentor – were chasing a hit record.
Whether Drake wanted that we will never know. For some reason they didn’t get it but when you hear this beautiful, hauntingly beautiful song you wonder why.
It is from the Bryter Layter – the middle of Drake’s triptych – and the whole album is a gem. I mean Hazey Jane II as well as forming the template for every future Belle & Sebastian song is only a smidgeon behind Northern Sky in greatness.
But it is Northern Sky that pulls at our heart strings. It is probably Drake at his most optimistic but even then there is sadness in the song. It is one of the songs I’d like at my funeral and I am not alone in thought, I would guess.
It is a wonderful piece of art.
And when I sing a song for Hazey Jane it will always, always be Northern Sky.
It could be nothing else…
“I never felt magic crazy as this
I never saw moons knew the meaning of the sea
I never held emotion in the palm of my hand
Or felt sweet breezes in the top of a tree
But now you’re here
Brighten my northern sky.”