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Nick Drake: Hear And Now

This week on the music beat

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‘Moon’ Struck The British singer/guitarist Nick Drake, who died in 1974, has always been the very definition of a cult artist. Now the use of his haunting 1972 song ”Pink Moon” in a recent Volkswagen ad is exposing his music to millions — and giving new life to Drake’s album of the same name, sales of which have risen about 400 percent since the ad began airing in early November. The jump is all the more remarkable since neither song nor artist is ID’d in the spot. Drake’s ex-producer Joe Boyd reckons folks hear the tune, love it, and do a little detective work: ”I think they go to the VW website,” he speculates. ”It’s mysterious, but gratifying,” he adds. ”Nick always wanted to reach a wide number of people.”

Resisting Temptation Third Eye Blind guitarist Kevin Cadogan recently expressed a desire to help Gwyneth Paltrow kick-start a singing career, but Kenneth ”Babyface” Edmonds beat him to it. He recently recorded the Temptations’ ”Just My Imagination” with Paltrow for inclusion on the soundtrack to her upcoming vehicle Duets. Meanwhile, Paltrow’s costar in The Talented Mr. Ripley, Matt Damon, just made his own recorded debut with a passable ”My Funny Valentine” on the film’s soundtrack. The two aren’t planning a duet of their own, although — in the wake of a Feb. 6, 1999, appearance on Saturday Night Live on which she sang folk-song spoofs — labels have been courting the actress with offers for a solo album. Jennifer Lopez can relax; a Paltrow rep says she won’t be entering the pop-music arena, but ”she would sing again if it were part of an acting role.” The Story of Lulu, perhaps?