"Blues Run the Game" is a sad song with an even sadder story. The song was written by Jackson C. Frank, a Buffalo-born singer-songwriter who recorded a small handful of bittersweet and philosophical songs during the early and mid-'60s that influenced both the American and English folk scenes. But influence doesn't equal sales success -- Frank was essentially destitute by the mid-'70s and ended up splitting time between the streets and mental institutions for more than two decades. He had finally arrived at a measure of stability and recognition when he passed away from pneumonia and cardiac arrest in 1999 at the age of 56.
One of few people who appreciated Frank before misfortune befell him was the English singer-songwriter Nick Drake, whose version of "Blues Run the Game" -- taken from an upcoming rarities collection -- is today's featured song. Drake was another haunted soul, and one whose spiritual, pastoral music was tragically underappreciated. But Drake never lived to see his reputation grow to its current impressive stature -- he died from an overdose of antidepressants in 1974, at age 26. His moving reading of Frank's song is a wonderful example of both musicians' impressive gifts.
-- David Marchese