Traffic Jams: Nick Drake — ‘Place To Be’

Traffic sucks, so why not start your morning off with some music? You provide the toast and we’ll provide the jams.

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Nick Drake’s title track from his album Pink Moon gets all the attention and all the high profile covers, as it should. I’m not going to complain about this or argue whether the album’s opening track merits the praise because it is without a doubt a seminal fucking masterpiece. If you’re like me, you track back right around the final guitar strum of “Moon,” but I’m going to ask you to not do that today because I want you to listen a song that is often overlooked, “Place To Be.”

Place” takes second billing to Pink Moon, as the successive track on Drake’s 1972 album. It’s the number two track. It must be tough to follow one of the best songs ever written, but, dammit, “Place To Be” does so admirably. In fact, tracks one, two and three off the album are an absolute triumph!

Place” is this perfect winding down to the sheer energy that ‘Pink Moon’ gives off with that piano. In some ways, it feels like a more honest song, giving off a sense of paring down, and stripping back. Just a guitar and Drake’s voice admitting that age brings wisdom at the expense of vitality. It’ll break your damn heart, but you’ll want to hear it over and over and over because it’s brief. I’d say that is its only shortcoming; it’s over too quickly.


Really, I should be calling out track three on the album, “Road,” given its subject matter. You could argue, though, that “Place To Be” is referring to your car. That the driver’s seat is the place to be — the setting you sink into before going on one of those drives. On a nice night, “Pink Moon,”Place To Be,” and “Road” set up the kind of drive you’ll remember.