The “Pink Moon” Story


It took me a little while to finally meet Nick Drake’s song “Pink Moon” properly. Our relationship started with a case of mistaken identity.

Many years ago, there was a Volkswagen commercial that had a song I really liked. The next time I was CD shopping (something my husband and I used to do, in those Double Income No Kid days) I saw a CD with a starry blue cover and a sticker that said it contained music featured in a Volkswagen commercial.

I listened to the CD on the ride home, but was disappointed. Nothing on this new Hooverphonic CD sounded as good as the song I remembered. Maybe I just need to listen to it more, I thought. Listening more made things worse. The discrepancy between the haunting melody in my memory and that album only grew. What a whiny, boring album, I thought. Alas, my husband really liked it, and played it often. To this day the opening moans of that album send me lunging for the off button.

Some months later, knocked up with my first child and browsing my comic shop, I heard the strains of THAT song. The original song. The song I wanted. The song I thought I’d found in Hooverphonic, but had not. I rushed to the counter.

“Who sings this song?” I demanded.

My friend the Big Brain looked at me as if he were sorry that I did not know the answer. He looked at me a lot like that back then because I didn’t know much about music or film. He had good recommendations for me in both areas that were the building blocks of some of my favorites today. Interestingly, though, he was less helpful with comics advice. Except for Hicksville. And Goodbye Chunky Rice.

“It’s Nick Drake. He’s dead.”

“Can I borrow it?”

Not only did he let me borrow it, he let me borrow the other CDs that came in the really cool limited set he had. I took them home and listened to them over and over. Unlike with Hooverphonic, repeat listening only endeared them to me more. Months later, as I was packing my pregnancy bag for the hospital, those CDs were one of the first things in the bag. I imagined giving birth listening to the calming strains of poor-dead Nick Drake’s voice. And then I put a whole bunch more stupid sh1t in the bag, like the video of Pride and Prejudice, about twenty other CDs, makeup, makeup remover that I’d made a special trip to the store to buy a travel size of, and a pretty nightgown.

Out of all that, the only useful item was the Pink Moon cd. Nothing went according to how I imagined it. The classes said that water breaking first was a dramatic fib perpetuated by Hollywood. My water broke first. At midnight. After I’d just fallen asleep after an exhausting day. I spent the next twelve hours having irregular contractions that made me throw up anything I put in my mouth. Even melted ice cubes came back up. Finally the hospital grudgingly agreed it was time for me to come in. I was still leaking a little, so we put a black trashbag over the back seat of the car. I got in, but had a hard time sitting upright. My husband knew that Pink Moon made me feel better, so he put that in. After the song finished he asked if I wanted to listen to something else.

“Pink Moon!” I called out, desperate, like it was a life raft I was hanging onto. “Pink Moon!”

The bat$hit crazy edge to my voice was in direct contrast to the soothing sound of the song. My husband wisely snatched his hand away from the controls, letting the CD play on.

Long story short: long labor with healthy baby boy. Gave up playing music after the first couple Nick Drake ones. Figured out it was ridiculous to think that I’d be in labor and up for a video, as if I were home, sick in bed. Never wore the nightgown. If I was going to gush messily all over the place, I was happy to do it in hospital supply. Touched neither the makeup or the remover and was suitably embarrassed for having thought I might.

Those Nick Drake cds, especially Pink Moon, were about the only useful thing I took to the hospital. Every time I hear Pink Moon on the radio, I hear my own voice in my head, screech-moaning, “Pink Moon! Pink Moon!” in a violent tone that does not match the song at all. It’s not a bad memory, though, in fact it makes me laugh.

3 Responses to “The “Pink Moon” Story”

  1. Ritalee Says:

    I enjoyed reading your story this morning. Thanks!

  2. girldetective Says:

    Thank you, Ritalee, for your kind words. It’s so lovely to get a proper comment after wading through dozens of spam messages. Also, I often feel very exposed when I write something personal and there’s silence in response. I’ve considered for a while practicing my writing by doing some of my stories: the wedding dress story, the why-I-don’t-trust-astrology story, the Ed Rendell story. Recently realized I’d forgotten the details of my Dikembe Mutumbo story, so perhaps time to write them down to remember.

  3. Ritalee Says:

    Please keep it up. I read another great personal essay in Sun magazine yesterday that made me think, truth is better than fiction (although I love fiction so much). I also mentioned your story to Nancy last night after yoga, when we were discussing a class she took on dying and having a death plan, which she compared to the wild unpredictability of having a birth plan. My synopsis didn’t compare to your writing, but she laughed pretty hard. I can’t wait to hear about Dikembe Mutumbo.