Jackson C.Frank was what you would call a musician’s musician. While his stark, windblown folk sound was revered and respected by his peers during the ’60s, he was for the most part utterly invisible and unappreciated by the general public.
He is primarily remembered as a peripheral character in the lives of far greater known artists. Paul Simon produced his first and only album in 1965. Nick Drake covered no less than 4 of his songs. Sandy Denny, the legendary Fairport Convention vocalist, was romantically involved with him for several years and one of her finest recorded moments is a song about their relationship.
Despite all this acknowledgement from colleagues, success evaded him during his lifetime. The reasons are vast and complex but are partially rooted in his fragile state of mind and a debilitating mental illness. He died in relative obscurity in 1999 and, while his handsome, poetic songs have gained attention posthumously, he remains a cult figure.
That is why it is particularly beautiful and poignant that one of this century’s most enigmatic and revered indie bands, Chromatics, have just released a cover of one of Frank’s most emotional songs, “I Want To Be Alone.” Chromatics have proven to have a deft touch when it comes to covers (as we’ve explored many times), and this may be their crowning glory in that department so far. Ethereal and evocative, the cover is a left turn away from the band’s usual neon-lit electronic anthems and more akin to the uneasy folk sound of The Wicker Man soundtrack.
Chromatics have been teasing new album Dear Tommy since 2015. While there remains no official release date, “I Want To Be Alone” is here to sate us all until its, we hope, imminent arrival.