Monday, June 21, 2010

Sudden and unexpected popularity.

It occurred to me that if Nick Drake was half as popular during his life as he is now, some 36 years after his death, he'd still be alive. It started in 1999 with that Volkswagen Cabriolet ad that used "Pink Moon" as the soundtrack and mushroomed from there. It seemed a strange way to sell a car, but I don't get paid to construct an advertising campaign.
Recently, Nick's "From the Morning" was used in an AT&T spot to promote their wireless network. I see the tie-in - don't you?
There are two possibilities for Nick's recent popularity:
1 - Ad agencies and the general public have come to realize how simple and poetic his music is, and have wised up and are using it to advertise things.
2 - The rights are cheap and it fits their purpose.
I'm guessing it's number two.
If you don't know who Nick Drake is, there is a nice write-up on his Wikipedia page that will get you started. It's a sad story and it's made sadder by the fact that he was virtually unknown while he was alive. Great art is seldom appreciated in the artist's lifetime, but there is always someone around to reap the rewards.



In case you'd like to hear the song without the advertising - as it was intended...

3 comments:

Kcoz said...

interesting...I never gave the music in that AT&T commercial much thought before.

Timing is everything and now that this guy Nick is popular now I guess it would be safe to say that he was out of time.

Later...

Cliff Yankovich said...

Brain is bifurcated on this. On one hand, cool that his music is getting heard. On the other, I have always admired groups/musicians who say no to the corporate bucks (e.g. Densmore from the Doors walking away from millions, or David Byrne). I was never a big Bob Seeger fan, but if he wants to be remembered as the voice of Chevy trucks - I guess that is his decision.

Anthony said...

Kcoz: Definitely. A little too mellow for some, but not much different than Donovan or other more popular artists.

Cliff: His being dead probably has a lot to do with his music being used in that way. I'm sure the family gets a few bucks. Perhaps Nick would eschew the bucks the same way others have.
Most notably, when a diaper company wanted to use Bowie's "Changes" for a TV ad. He said no to that.