When Nick Drake met Phil Lynott they went for a long walk and talked. They talked about life, growing up in the 60s, the differences and similarities between Northern England and Ireland, in particular Dublin, escaping a certain image as an artist, commercial versus real suicide and various poets: Keats, Coleridge, Auden and Byron, Lynott’s favourite. ‘If it wasn’t for Thin Lizzy, I would have been a poet’, Lynott loudly exlaimed, ‘chicks really dig eloquent men!’. It made Drake smile. Glancing at Lynott, who against the last light of a setting sun looked like a perfect blend of Jesus Christ and Vlad the Impaler, he said:
‘If you were a poet, and I think you are, you would still be on stage, preaching to the masses, setting the church on fire, causing a big stir, if not revolution. The poet in you wants to go back to 1968, 1917, 1789…riot, disruption, fire, energy’
Lynott stopped walking, hesitated, started a sentence and stopped again. For the first time that afternoon some of his confidence seemed gone, but as he looked away at the horizon it wasn’t the sudden lack of words that was most surprising. No, Lynott wasn’t just speechless, he seemed to retreat back into his body to retrieve something from the darkest, most deserted corners of his memory, and as he was doing so, metamorphosed into a different creature, a different kind of animal.
And then he reentered the external world again, grinning, like nothing had happened, and casually remarked that living in the past was just a waste of time, and that he was much more than a stage animal with a box of matches. They continued their walk in silence, barely noticing the century old trees, majestic pieces of history, too consumed by the inner mechanics of thoughts and feelings set against a backdrop of uncomfortable childhood memories.
It was Drake who finally resumed their conversation. In the darkest part of the forest where even now, in broad daylight, they could hardly see each other, he simply stated that there is no need to masquerade love, not during this walk, not while they were enjoying each other’s company. Looking back is what I do most, looking back at Elizabethan times, at a life not so much better, but certainly more gracious, elegant and poetic. You live in the future, continuously recreating the passion people don’t even know they’ve lost, I live in the past, varnishing and glossing up what wasn’t even there to begin with.
When Nick Drake met Phil Lynott they went for a long walk. When they finally returned it was already dark. A bright full moon hung over their goodbye kiss, a fact both men didn’t find funny, amazing or coincidental.