On Tuesday, March 29th, “Five Leaves Left: A Tribute To Nick Drake” by the Jason Parker Quartet was released. Each day thereafter I wrote at length about one of the tracks – how the arrangement came about, what went down in the studio, thoughts about the performances, etc. Click here to read them all.
Click the play button to listen to the track while reading
I think of “Fruit Tree” as Nick Drake’s manifesto. It speaks directly to his frustrations about fame, life, and being unappreciated in his time. It also foreshadows his ultimate demise with lines like
Safe in the womb
Of an everlasting night
You find the darkness can
Give the brightest light.
Safe in your place deep in the earth
That’s when they’ll know what you were really worth.
Forgotten while you’re here
Remembered for a while
A much updated ruin
From a much outdated style.
It’s clear that even before he released his first album he was thinking about the nature of the life he had chosen, and was already resigned to his fate. Kind of amazing for a 19 year old to be that aware of his impending fate.
The power of this song is definitely in the lyrics. Even so, I elected to tackle it as an instrumental. I wanted to see if we could capture the spirit of it without using words. When we got around to recording it on the last day, we had only played in once or twice previously, so we had to find our way through it right there in the studio.
I decided to keep it simple and have Cynthia and I trade the melody back and forth, line by line. The song feels kind of like an internal conversation to me, so I thought it’d be cool to approach it that way, with Cynthia and I acting as two voices inside Drake’s head.
One of my favorite things about this tune is D’Vonne’s drum beat. It’s so simple but so huge! This was one of the only things that Don Gunn and I put some different effects on in the mixing process. I wanted it to sound as big a “rock-y” as possible. I also really like the way Josh and Evan handle Drake’s guitar line on piano and bass.
For comparison purposes, here’s the Nick Drake version of the tune:
Tomorrow we’ll talk about the final song on the album, “Saturday Sun”.