Nocturnette 15: A Black Dog

Nick Drake's "Black-Eyed Dog. Whenever I hear that song, I imagine its head, facing me, greying in the sunlight, and the eyes are startlingly expressive and human. Both beholding me, and boring through my flesh. Both warmly jovial and malevolent.

 

If you're a predominantly acoustic guitarist, and have taken the time out of your living, to loom seated over your bed pillows, in the summer's glooms and compose while the rest make hay, then Nick Drake is a name that will be as familiar as the woodland rides no doubt you frequent.

 

His voice haunts a lot of heads, reverberating in amongst the sloshing tattoo of the skull's blood beat.

 

 Inspired, you loosened all the strings on your father's guitar, and tuned them to variations of the same note, semitones apart, with one string out of key.

 

Within minutes of returning from work, he had restored an order to the wood and steel, and melody to the humid air, before you dove away, to a campfire behind the river where you drunk yourself deep in tears, by the bog under the trees. Why so much sadness in your heart even then? As if you sensed something coming.

 

In company, obviously. You don't really have friends when you're seventeen, just accomplices in a convoluted synergy of egos. Sidemen and every one the lead. Each unreachable, distant, inked-in behind glass yet as intimate as your shadow. Each attuned to your frequency, yet scrambling the signal. Every friend your enemy, sympathising while making a meal of your weakness.

 

 It was foolish to trust so readily, and chase them so long. Now look, you're knee deep in dust in the back room where no one goes, with a whole horde of haunted antiques! So, get back out to the hazel wood, flaming by the campfire, and this time, initially, alone.

 

Now I only strive for happiness, moving always, pushing onward.

 

'There's something good, waiting down this road, I'm taking back, whatever is mine'