December 15, 2018
   

Five Leaves Left



Credits

All songs by Nick Drake
Nick Drake - vocals and guitar
John Wood - engineer
Joe Boyd - producer
Diogenic attempts ltd - sleeve design
Keith Morris - photos

Time has told me
Paul Harris - piano
Richard Thompson - electric guitar
Danny Thompson - bass

River man
Arranged by Harry Robinson

Three hours
Danny Thompson - bass
Rocki Dzidzornu - congas

Way to blue
Arranged by Robert Kirby

Day is done
Arranged by Robert Kirby

'Cello song
Clare Lowther - cello
Danny Thompson - bass
Rocki Dzidzornu - congas

The thoughts of Mary Jane
Arranged by Robert Kirby

Man in a shed
Paul Harris - piano
Danny Thompson - bass

Fruit tree
Arranged by Robert Kirby

Saturday sun
Paul Harris - piano
Danny Thompson - bass
Tristam Fry - drums and vibraphone
  It all began a late night in Februari 1968. There was a 12 days anti-war festival at the Roundhouse in London. The night in question Ashley Hutchings, then bass player of Fairport Convention, walked around in the audience when a voice caught his attention. He looked to the stage and there a young man was sitting, with a seizing charisma, playing beautiful songs. After the short performance Ashley went backstage to talk to the young man, whose name was Nick Drake. Ashley praised Nick's performance and asked if it was alright to mention him to Joe Boyd, owner of the production company Witchseason. Ashley got Nick's number and some days later Joe called Nick and asked for a demo tape which he recieved: "About thirty seconds into the first song it was clear to me that this was very extraordinary", Joe has said about his first impression of Nick's music. They decided to do an album and in July 1968 the first studio session was held at Sound Techniques, with Joe Boyd as producer and engineer John Wood. They recorded three songs and got them arranged by a well known arranger called Richard Hewson. But Nick didn't like the arrangements and he was strong enough to say that, considering the arrangements were already made and a fifteen piece orchestra had been brought to the studio. Nick said he had a friend from Cambridge, Robert Kirby, who he thought would do his songs more justice. Since Robert didn't have any experience of studio work, Joe and John were quite sceptical about the idea, but agreed to give it a try. Robert only used a six piece orchestra and Danny Thompson on bass for his arrangements and both Joe, John and Nick thought it was great. Robert Kirby arranged four of the songs on Five leaves left, but a fifth, River Man, that also had strings, was arranged by Harry Robinson, because Robert didn't feel at the time that he was able to orchestrate such a complex song. Due to some problems at Sound Techniques, Nick's quite but strong will and the fact that he was still at Cambridge while recording, the album took almost a year to finish. It was scheduled for July 1969 but somehow it got delayed and wasn't released until 1 September 1969. The reviews were good but the album didn't sell very well. In the summer of 1969 Nick had decided to quit Cambridge, because he wouldn't want to miss the chance of doing what he really wanted, so after a couple of months the work for a new album was begun...

The title Five Leaves Left is taken from the old Rizla cigarette papers. When you're about to run out of papers you get notified that there is "only 5 leaves left". Many theories have been suggested about the meaning of the title. Some people believe that it was an omen, because five years after the album was released, Nick died. But the most probable explanation is just that it was kind of an inside joke. If you were a smoker you would recognize the words and also know what was often rolled up in the papers. It wasn't always ordinary tobacco...

 

The story

People

Places

The albums

Five Leaves Left
Bryter Layter
Pink Moon


Live performances