Heard It On TV: AT&T and Nick Drake

This AT&T commercial advertising 97% coverage of all Americans rings a bell for two reasons: first, Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s “The Gates” 2005 installation at Central Park in New York City and second, Nick Drake.

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The commercial shows the orange fabric draping over some of America’s most recognizable landmarks: the Hollywood sign, the St Louis Arch, Hoover Dam, and the Las Vegas strip, and in the background is Nick Drake’s unmistakable voice in “From The Morning.” The English singer-songwriter’s material isn’t new to commercials or soundtracks. “Pink Moon” has appeared in a Volkswagen ad, “Fly” was in The Royal Tenenbaums, and “One Of These Things First” was included on the hugely popular Garden State soundtrack.

The first time I ever heard Nick Drake was in an episode of the WB’s short-lived summer series Young Americans. The show first aired in 2000 and featured none other than Kate Moennig as Jake/Jacqueline, the girl posing as a boy at an all-boy’s boarding school. So let’s just say it was an important moment for several reasons.

Back to Nick Drake.

Although his music is so visible in popular culture today, Drake never experienced great success during his lifetime. He recorded only three albums (Five Leaves Left, Bryter Layter, and Pink Moon, which was recorded in only 2 days) between 1968 and ’72, and his reception in folk circles was only lukewarm. Though his depression and insomnia largely inspired his beautifully somber music, they ultimately contributed to his death — an overdose on anti-depressants — when he was only 26.

How did you first discover Nick Drake? And am I the only person that secretly wants to own Young Americans on DVD? Let us know in the comments!


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Jess G.

Jess is a writer/producer with a knack for audio and online production. She grew up in California and now lives in Washington, DC, where she recently graduated from Georgetown University. Jess' jacket collection is obscenely large, and so is her music library. In her spare time, Jess enjoys riding her bike in the city, blogging, writing songs, and eating good food.

Jess has written 44 articles for us.

18 Comments

  1. I absolutely love Nick Drake and grew up listening to him! And my dad used to play and sing his music to me when I was young, so Nick Drake has been engrained in my head (good thing)!

    I was so excited when I first saw that commercial AT&T put out. He seems so lovely and under-appreciated. I’m glad at least now people are appreciating his wonderful music.

    Pink Moon (the song) is also in the movie Driving Lessons (with Julie Walters and Rupert Grint aka Molly and Ron Weasley). Speaking of Driving Lessons, it has a great soundtrack you should listen to! (Sufjan Stevens, Ben Folds,…)

  2. Ahhh I love Nick Drake so much. I first got into him when I was a freshman in high school after I saw Garden State (actually, I think this is how a lot of people my age got into him). So I bought Pink Moon and Bryter Layter and have been listening ever since. I’ll even go out on a limb and say I like him more than Bob Dylan. Which is a pretty long limb, but still.

  3. Um, are we maybe a bit short on actual GLBT news today? Correct me if I’m wrong, but the only reason this post is up here is because Nick Drake’s song once played in a sitcom starring a woman who may or may not be gay but plays one on TV?

    It’s a bit of a stretch.

  4. 1. This is culturally gay, if not explicitly gay. If you don’t get that, then you’re not queer enough. Harrumph.

    2. VW commercial, song was Pink Moon. There is something about this song that reminds me of being so young, and the girl sitting next to you smells so nice, and wow, maybe she is sitting too close to just be friends. And it’s nighttime and the moon is out and you’re sitting to close to a nice smelling girl.

    That’s Nick Drake.

  5. I got Way to Blue in 2000 and listened to it constantly, more than anything else in the whole world. I was obsessed, constantly. I think my friend Jake introduced me to Nick Drake, but that was possibly also around the same time that Pink Moon was in that commercial. I lived in the dorms so I remember everyone always being like “what’s this?” when every time they came into my room and I had nick drake on which as aforementioned was all the time

  6. i can’t remember where i first heard nick drake. i think it was when i read the perks of being a wallflower and made charlie’s playlist. i only know a few of nick drake’s songs, but i like them a lot.

  7. Love, love, love Nick Drake. I first heard him when I was 15. I believe I was stealing my sister’s collection of music at the time. Pretty sure that was after I took most of her clothes.

    Riese, you should link the Top Ten Cookies. Hopefully, Snicker Doodles are on there.

  8. When I was 12-17, I was “inexplicably” obsessed with the band Placebo (bi lead singer, gay bassist, emo before there was emo). I spent 1/3 of waking hours on a forum dedicated to this band (full of teenage fag hags and gays) and everyone talked about Nike Drake all the time, and I listened to a few songs but was generally like: “this isn’t Placebo. Wtf.” but it planted a seed for later days.

    So, this is queer and cookies are queer and autostraddle can do no wrong.

  9. i was 22 and hanging out in a dive bar in nyc – can’t remember the name of the bar, just that they had matchbooks that said ‘stay up late’.
    somebody put ‘one of these things first’ on the juke box and i asked the bartender who it was, and got major stink-eye for that question. nevertheless he told me all about nick drake. one fact that fascinated me was that nick was terrified of performing publicly, could rarely bring himself to do it and couldn’t quite get his head around fame.
    drinking alone + half empty dive bar + nick drake would usually equal most depressing night out in the history of time, but it was one of the best/most interesting musical discoveries i was ever fortunate enough to make.

    • I love profoundly meaningful music moments, even sad ones! Glad you had the nerve to ask the bartender what was playing. I usually avoid that situation altogether by jotting down lyrics on a napkin and google-ing later. I can’t handle the stink-eye!

  10. When I was a kid, my favourite cousin used to hold me upside down and spin me around, and other stuff which would delight a youthful tomboy.

    He was effortlessly cool, so it was no surprise that a few years later I was round at his and raiding his record collection, where I was introduced to a great many good things, such as Massive Attack, Portishead and Nick Drake.

    I was vaguely aware of the other bands, but Nick Drake was brand new to me and just wonderful. I remember studying the CD sleeve then being totally shocked by the tone of his voice when he started singing, it was not what I was expecting.

    Obviously all the songs are great enough to stand by themselves, but I always tie in music to certain people, eras or states of mind, and fortunately Nick Drake is tied to something good.

    Also, I think a bird may have just killed itself flying repeatedly into my window.

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