Place To Be
When I was younger, younger than before
I never saw the truth hanging from the door
And now I’m older see it face to face
And now I’m older gotta get up clean the place.
And I was green, greener than the hill
Where the flowers grew and the sun shone still
Now I’m darker than the deepest sea
Just hand me down, give me a place to be.
And I was strong, strong in the sun
I thought I’d see when day is done
Now I’m weaker than the palest blue
Oh, so weak in this need for you.
– Nick Drake
I had shuffle on this morning. By chance one of my faviourite Nick Drake songs came on. I love his use of metaphor in this song. I was also surprised to hear him sing about pining for that place to be. What we all seem to desire; A place of comfort and security, where we are appreciated for who we are. Tuan explains that our first “place” was our mother, deftly illustrated in these two passages:
‘The child “moves a short distance from the mother, stops to look around, fixates the sources of sounds and visual stimuli and, in some cases, attracts the mother’s attention to them. Intermingled with this scanning of the re- mote is an examination of the ground: he handles leaves, grass, stones and refuse; crawls or jumps backwards and for- wards over verges, and attempts the shaking or climbing of obstacles” (J. W. Anderson, “Attachment behavior out of doors,” in N. Blurton Jones, Ethological Studies of Child Behavior, p. 205). Pointing is a common gesture. Any remote sight or sound that catches the child’s attention is sufficient to elicit it’ (24).
‘A man leaves his home or hometown to explore the world; a toddler leaves his mother’s side to explore the world. Places stay put. Their image is one of stability and permanence. The mother is mobile, but to the child she nonetheless stands for stability and permanence. She is nearly always around when needed’ (29).
This perhaps explains how the passing of a parent elicits the most grief out of all possible deaths to occur in one’s social sphere. Why also children who have a fractured relationship with their parents have trouble establishing a fixed sense of place and often live transient lives.
Not to get too bogged down in a Freudian analysis of place, I feel Drake is using this phrase “place to be” in a multifaceted way – as many talented songwriters do with different terminologies. From the contextualising lyrics that surround this phrase I interpret this song as languishing for a loved one – perhaps a place by the side of his lover.