Poor Boy

Album: Bryter Layter (1970)

Songfacts®:

  • One of Drake's very few linear lyrics, in this one he basically chides himself for his own indomitable despair. Much of the Bryter Layter album follows a similar theme, including probably the best known song from it, "One of These Things First." >>
    Suggestion credit:
    S.D. - Denver, CO
  • South African jazz musician, Chris McGregor, recorded his incredible piano for this track in just one take. McGregor is perhaps best-known for founding and leading the South African sextet, The Blue Notes.
  • The producer, Joe Boyd, seized upon the jazzy song's cloaking of self-pity in self-mockery in an arrangement that featured a Greek chorus sung by PP Arnold and Doris Troy. Nick Drake wasn't very happy with the way his song had turned out. Boyd recalled to Mojo: "On his original demo of 'Poor Boy,' Nick sang the line, 'Oh poor boy. So sorry for himself,' mocking himself. The minute I heard that I thought of emulating the mocking female voices on Leonard Cohen's 'So Long, Marianne.' Nick said, 'Do you think so?' and in retrospect I think that may have been him saying, 'I don't think so.'"
  • PP Arnold recalled recording the backing vocals during an interview with Uncut magazine: "I got a call from my good friend Doris Troy, who said, 'Hey Pat, do you want to come and do this session with me?' I didn't know who Nick was, but he was a lovely guy. Goosebumps are going up my arm while I'm talking about this, because it was really a lovely evening. It's as if I'm feeling his spirit or something. We got such a great sound on that track, it really is timeless."

Comments: 1

  • Andy from Lake City, Flnick finally reveals a sense of humor here directed at himself. coming from a wealthy family surrounded by ambitious, successful people, expectations were high for nick. the money and priveledge do not make him happy or enhance his work. nick admits the "tortured artist" label sounds absurd yet it fits him. being so entirely focused on music limits his social connections and excuses his drug use. nick invites our sympathy yet resents it as well.
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