Unsung : Unsaid.
Nick & Syd in Absentia.
In July and August 1974 Nick Drake and Syd Barrett made their final ill-fated ventures into a recording studio. There has never been any evidence that they ever met or that their paths crossed in any meaningful way. Until now.
In a parallel fictional universe it turns out that they did indeed have a series of encounters in 1974, firstly in the café snack bar in Kensington Market and subsequently in other central London locations. These meetings, tentative and fragmentary, yet full of shared understanding reveal much about the inner life of each man during that troubled late stage of their respective careers.
In Unsung : Unsaid we also learn about other previously undocumented aspects of their young lives. For example, Nick’s showcase Festival Hall Concert in the summer of 1971 and In Blue World, Syd’s short-lived band with Steve Took, during 1972. A portfolio of Syd’s unrecorded songs which turned up at his music publishers in 1974 will reveal to the reader for the very first time an abundance of previously unseen lyrics. Similarly, a bootlegged copy of Nick’s unreleased fourth LP is faithfully and lovingly detailed by two of his most ardent admirers.. You can read about the long-lost solo album that Syd was going to record in 1967 before the demo went missing, and about Nick’s aborted plan to record an album of cover versions, complete with a full run down of the tracks he chose and his reasons for choosing them. A rare audio letter of Nick’s has been unearthed in which he muses on his musical apprenticeship, and his misgivings about the music industry. In another equally candid letter, written but never sent to Francoise Hardy he talks earnestly about his love of Paris, about Albert Camus and other philosophical matters.
We explore the intricacies of both men’s dreams and what they say about their troubled psyches. We learn in more animated detail than ever before about the realities (and acid induced unrealities) of Syd’s formative years in Cambridge and his coming of age in Swinging London. The Happenings. The art apprenticeship. The light shows. The I Ching and the search for spiritual enlightenment. Syd’s residency at Chelsea Cloisters and his increasingly wayward daily derives around London. It’s all here.
‘Unsung : Unsaid’ gives momentum to stasis, substance to enigma and helps us understand more about what drove, and what derailed each man’s creativity. It is a philosophical meditation on absence, existential crisis and loss. But underpinning it all is those three (or is it four? Or more?) encounters in 1974. “This bedraggled Estragon and haunted Vladimir, so alike in their vacancy” captured shortly before they both drift into myths and fables. In a way it always has been about myths and fables but you’ll probably learn more here about the actual Syd Barrett and Nick Drake than you will from any biographical account.
Here’s to more plausible myths and fables.