All three of the other apartments here have gotten new tenants over the last few months, and one of the guys who moved in has one of those car audio systems with a loudly thumping bass speaker, and he decided to sit in his car listening to it for a bout ten minutes right around eleven o'clock in the morning. By the time he left I was unable to go back to sleep, and I gave up trying about noon, and I've been awake ever since. I am very tired.
I actually was nodding off late in the afternoon while sitting in the hot but by then shady back yard, and intended to take a nap, but felt hungry so I made a quick snack and by the time I was done eating it my sleepiness had somehow lost its edge. As it turned out, I later had a second snack and called it dinner. Eating just isn't very enjoyable in this weather. I also found a peach I'd forgotten in the refrigerator, and would have eaten that as well, but it had gotten mold on it and even after that was cut off it tasted moldy, so I had to throw it out. I really need to get myself more organized.
One more ultra-hot day and we will be back to normal summer torridness for a few days before the next heat wave engulfs us. The summer solstice is this evening, 8:31 PM Pacific time, and Monday the 21st is the first full day of official summer in the northern hemisphere. Oh, to be in the antipodes!
by Molly Drake
Living grows round us like a skin
To shut away the outer desolation
For if we clearly mark the furthest deep
We should be dead long years before the grave.
But turning around within the homely shell
Of worry, discontent, and narrow joy
We grow and flourish
And rarely see the outside dark
That would confound our eyes.
Some break the shell.
I think that there are those
Who push their fingers through
The brittle walls
And make a hole.
And through this cruel slit
Stare out across the cinders of the world
With naked eyes.
They look both out and in
And too much else besides.
Molly Drake (1915-1993) was an English songwriter and poet who was never published in her lifetime. It's possible that she would never have been published had she not been the mother of the singer and songwriter Nick Drake, who died in 1974 at the age of 26. (It seems very likely that "The Shell" is about Nick.) The three albums he released in his lifetime each sold fewer than 5000 copies, and despite his remarkable talent he seemed doomed to perpetual obscurity.
Then in 1999 Volkswagen used the title song to his final album, "Pink Moon" in one of its television commercials, and a new generation said "who is that guy?" They soon found out through the Internet, where his music was quickly posted, and he has since sold far more records than he did in his brief lifetime. Thanks largely to the efforts of his sister, the actress Gabrielle Drake, his newfound popularity sparked an interest in his mother's songs and poems. Her songs, recorded at home in the 1950s, are now also available on the Internet.
Los Angeles had a couple of radio stations that played Nick Drake's music when it was first released, and that's where I first heard it in 1969. To me it really stood out, even in that era of highly creative and original music. My favorite song from his first album was "River Man," a haunting and evocative piece which, despite the concrete imagery of the lyric, seems woven almost entirely of nuance and suggestion. Drake's voice, like the music and the singer himself, seems ethereal, almost gossamer, yet full of a subtle power. I remember being astonished when I first heard it, and it has lost none of its allure when I listen to it now, some 52 years later. June 19 was Nick Drake's birthday. He would have been 73.