The cryptic 2-minute title track of Nick Drake's third album, he got the name of this song from the Dictionary Of Folklore
. It represents the blood-red color of the moon during eclipses.
Diablo - Ipswich, England
Drake never had anything resembling a hit in America, but "Pink Moon" has become his most popular song in that country. This is due in no small part to its use in a 1999 commercial for the Volkswagen Cabriolet convertible, which shows four young people driving under the moonlight. When they reach their destination - a party - they tacitly agree to keep driving. The ad, which was created by the agency Arnold Worldwide, sparked a resurgence of interest in the song and in Nick Drake.
The commercial was titled "Milky Way," and this song was not the first choice - "Under the Milky Way" by The Church was what they originally had in mind.
This song contains just Drake's voice, piano and acoustic guitar. These three elements are all that is heard on the entire album, as there were no outside musicians involved. In fact, the only man who seemed to know that Drake was even making an album was his producer/engineer John Wood, who recorded it.
Even then, Drake was being called "the great silent enigma of our time." His record company, Island, claimed that they had lost track of him, and only knew about the album when Drake walked into the office and delivered it.
Pink Moon would be Drake's last album; two years later he died after overdosing on antidepressant drugs in what was possibly a suicide. The singer was battling depression when he made this music, which is both melancholy and wondrous, providing an insight into his state of mind.
The lyric is very simple, with the same verse repeated twice:
Saw it written and I saw it say
Pink moon is on its way
And none of you stand so tall
Pink moon gonna get ye all
What Drake meant by this is a mystery; he did some press to promote the album, but gave no insights on his thought process. Based on his mental state, the song can be seen as apocalyptic, or possibly Drake foretelling his own death.
The Volkswagen commercial became a cultural touchstone in America, where only the most adventurous music fans were familiar with Nick Drake before the spot aired, and those fans decried the "sell out" of his music. In the 2000 Gilmore Girls episode "Kiss and Tell," when Rory's love interest Dean discovers a Nick Drake CD in her bedroom (which she planted there because she knew he was a fan), he says, "How much does it suck that they use 'Pink Moon' in a Volkswagen commercial?"