I read a lot of biographies. My favourites are ones like Nick Drake – The Biography by Patrick Humphries. It’s full of interesting stuff - who knew that the tall skinny (and remarkably handsome) Drake was born in Burma? But it also has what may be a dying art in biography – a sense of mystery. He died so early, in such obscurity, no one kept records.
Are we the last generation of lost records? By records I mean official documentation. I’m pretty sure from 1990 or so there accurate records of every place I’ve ever lived. I’m sure if someone wanted, they could easily find all the places I’ve travelled, and when. There’s a computer somewhere that has every journey I’ve ever taken. Except maybe one trip from Korea to Taiwan where I was issued with a paper ticket. Maybe, that’s the one black mark.
And I like the black marks. I like not being able to join the dots sometimes. I like to think there are things that people never know about eachother.
This isn’t an anti big brother rant. This isn’t me walking down your street with a sandwich board saying the government is watching you. It’s just a belief that a life can be more than what can be assumed from documents, even interviews.
Have you tried googling yourself? Then, there are now myspaces and facebooks. Facebook, you can even tag photos with people’s names. There are many photos of me I’ve never seen. Then there’s Youtube! How long before you’re there, in the background of someone’s camera phone.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that I like a bit of mystery. It doesn’t feel like I can do much these days without people knowing about it. Which is fine. But sometimes, when you are somewhere, and you realise, no one knows where you are, or what you are doing, can be a beautiful moment.
I have to believe that there will always be mysteries in the world. That we cannot be captured simply by the tracks we leave behind. And that there are things in the world that cannot be looked up in Wikipedia.
They put out another Nick Drake collection this year (in the same month there was ‘new’ releases by Elliott Smith and Jeff Buckley). I didn’t get it, but I have plenty of Drake boots. He did a lot of covers and just jamming stuff. I have to believe that maybe there is a beautiful song he wrote and played that maybe is never recorded, that I’ll never hear. I have his three albums, and about 10 other collections, boots, demos and stuff. And after all that, I want to be able to say that it was just a part of his bag of tunes.
No one knows if Nick Drake’s death was an accident or if it was deliberate. I don’t want to know. I don’t ever want to know everything. I want to keep guessing.