Archive for the ‘Linda Thompson’ Category

[ATTENDED: January 18, 2020] Richard Thompson

After seeing Richard Thompson back in 2016 (three times in a short span) I decided I could take a break from seeing him a bit.  Although when he announced an electric trio tour I was really excited to check it out.  Sadly, I couldn’t make that show.  But when he announced another show at McCarter (I believe his 20th show there?) I figured it had been four years and was time to see him again.

This was my tenth time seeing Richard Thompson (first time in 1997).  I tend to focus a lot on the songs that Richard plays at every show.  I’m sure I’ve seen “Beeswing” and “1952 Vincent Black Lightning” ten times.  But in this set he played 13 songs that I hadn’t seen in at least the previous two shows and that’s pretty awesome.

We had some amazing seats (center stage about eight rows back) and we could see his fretwork absolutely clearly. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: FRENCH, FRITH, KAISER, THOMPSON-“Bird in God’s Garden/Lost and Found” (1987).

The words are a poem by Rumi.   It is a slow droney song that is primarily drums from John French.  Thompson sings in his quieter style.

There are several different versions of this song. There’s an earlier unreleased version with Richard & Linda Thompson that is much quieter.  I especially like this version because after every other verse they brighten things up with a dramatic five note string riff (or maybe it’s Kaiser on the sanshin) that seems to come out of nowhere.

They spice up the middle of the song with a rollicking traditional Irish sounding fiddle melody from Fred Frith’s “Lost and Found.”  (Frith plays violin).  It adds a bit of zing to an otherwise dirgey song.

After about three minutes of the slow thumping there’s a wonderfully rocking instrumental section complete with fiddles and bass playing some wild melodies.

It was recorded on the album Live, Love, Larf and Loaf and also appears on Thompson’s collection Watching the Dark (1993).

[READ: September 1, 2019] “Nell Zink’s Satire Raises the Stakes”

I have really enjoyed the Nell Zink books that I’ve read. I’ve even read an excerpt from Doxology, the book that’s reviewed in this essay.

What I like about this essay though is the summations of her writing and her earlier books.

Schwartz says that Zink looks at life from the fringes.  She then summarizes her three impossible to summarize books in simple and amusing fashion: (more…)

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[ATTENDED: October 9, 2016] Richard Thompson

2016-10-09-15-21-28I saw Richard Thompson play back in February at McCarter.  I saw him open for Wilco (well, I saw some of his set since I was late) back in June.  And now I’ve seen him in October.

That’s a lot of Richard.  But I couldn’t pass up this show because the Sellersville Theater is one of the most intimate venues around.  I scored Row G seats like in McCarter although Sellersville’s row G is a bit further back because they have tables in the front.  But it was still like having him play in my living room.

I’ve seen him play in many different styles over the years.  This summer he also toured with Bonnie Raitt with his trio.  I would have gone to that one, since I haven’t seen his trio, but prices were way too much and I don’t like Bonnie Raitt–well, her music anyway, I’ve no opinion about her.  Like the last two times, this was just him and his acoustic guitar.  And while I would love to have gotten a different setup, there is nothing wrong with just him and his guitar.

This was a matinee show (2PM!) thrown together kind of at the last minute (it was announced less than a month ago).  He joked about how matinees are usually played fro 5-year-olds or 95-year-olds–either playing 1930s covers or Puff the Magic Dragon.  He was glad that we were between those ages.

And like last time, there was the man just six rows away.  And I got to watch every amazing solos and chord changes and capo placements and tuning and everything else he could do with that one guitar.  For the McCarter how he played for 2 hours.  We only got 90 minutes (he said “I have three more minutes before I turn into a pumpkin”) which is a little skimpy (although probably about the normal length for a show).

And while no RT show is disappointing, I was a little bummed that his setlist was almost exactly the same as the one he played at McCarter.  The first two songs were different, but almost all of the rest were the same.  And there were no requests or improvs, apparently.

I mentioned last time that he doesn’t play a lot of songs from his new album.  Which is a shame both because his newer albums have been outstanding, but also because he works pretty hard at them (I assume), and he should get to play more from them.   Of course, I totally get that he is practically contractually obligated to play “1952 Vincent Black Lightning,” “I Want to See the Bright Lights Tonight” “Beeswing” “Persuasion” and something from Fairport Convention.  But holy cow, he has so many songs.   He could play a different setlist every night for a month!

But enough griping, because the show was great.  he sounded fantastic and the acoustics in Sellersville are really top-notch. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: February 9, 2016] Richard Thompson at the McCarter Theatre

2016-02-09 19.19.51This was my fourth time seeing Richard Thompson at McCarter Theatre (he says it was his 492nd time playing there).  And this time, I got my tickets early and scored ROW G!  Right in the center!

2016-02-09 19.24.13So there was the man just six rows away.  And I got to watch every amazing solos and chord changes and capo placements and tuning (that’s why I can’t play his songs) and everything else he could do with that one guitar.

For indeed, that’s what it was, just him and his acoustic guitar.  Standing in front of us for 2 hours and blowing us away.  When I bought the tickets, he was touring with a trio (last summer), so I assumed that this show would be the trio show.  But nope, it was just him.

And, more amazingly, he played with no opening act!  The night before he was at the Sellersville Theater (which sold out before I found out and although they called me about the waiting list, it was about 2 hours before show time, so there’s no way I could have gone) and had an opening act.  And the next show after this one he had a different opening act.  But we got just Richard (and we were home by 10, which is pretty awesome for us old people). (more…)

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harper septSOUNDTRACK: LINDA THOMPSON-“Love’s for Babies and Fools” (2013).

lindaAfter two pop songs, here’s a major bummer from Linda Thompson.  Thompson is a fascinating figure.  She was married to Richard Thompson and made many albums with him.  They split very acrimoniously and them Linda suffered from psychogenic dysphonia, which rendered her incapable of singing.  She stopped singing for 11 years.  Now with botox injections into her throat she can sing again, but cannot perform live. She released an album n 2002 (Richard played guitar on a track) and another album in 2007.  Now’s she’s back and Richard plays on this song as well.

In the grand tradition of folk music, Linda’s lyrics are achingly straightforward and powerful:

My father is a traveler, he has a cuckold’s luck,  my mother is a queen but her hands are tied with blood. I’ve a brother in the graveyard, my sister has the blues.  I care only for myself.  Love’s for babies and fools.

The guitar work is beautiful, the song itself is beautiful and depressing at the same time.

Linda’s voice has always been unique—almost otherworldly and yet ordinary at the same time.  It’s strange and mesmerizing.  Welcome back Linda.

[READ: October 1, 2013] “A Different Kind of Father”

This is an excerpt from a new book by Franzen. The book itself is fascinating.  It is a translation of a “Nestroy and Posterity” a somewhat obscure essay from 1912 by the Austrian satirist Karl Kraus.  Franzen’s book is called The Kraus Project and in addition to the translation, Franzen includes a ton of footnotes that are all personal, like this one.  The book is 300 some pages and it sounds like the majority of it is footnotes.  [For those who like to keep track of Franzen’s connections to David Foster Wallace, of course this collection with footnotes does make one think of DFW.  Interestingly, Franzen talks about a book he was writing in 1981 (long before he met DFW which had a main character whose name was Wallace Wallace Wallace].

This footnote (no context is given) is all about the concept of thriving as a man by surpassing your father.  Be that literal or figurative (or literary).  In the case of Kraus, Franzen says, he is denying false paternity.  It was believed that Kraus was the literary son of Heinrich Heine, but Kraus tries to annihilate Heine by dismissing his successes and impugning his character.  However, Johann Nestroy was also a precursor to Kraus but Nestroy was a somewhat neglected and undervalued one, and so Kraus seeks to place Nestroy as his surrogate father. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: October 4, 2013] Richard Thompson at the McCarter Theatre

Back again for the (semi) annual Richard Thompson show at the McCarter Theatre.  RT himself said this was his 15th year playing there more or less every year.  And it seems like quite a lot of the concertgoers were multi-year attendees.

This time, Richard Thompson’s son Teddy opened.  About fifteen years ago I saw Teddy open for Richard in Boston.  That set was really enjoyable and I bought Teddy’s debut album.  But I haven’t thought all that much about him since (he has released a number of albums since 2000).

I spent some time at this show thinking about how strange it must be to tour with your father if he is a guitar wizard.  Teddy is not a guitar wizard and doesn’t try to be one.  [There’s an article that I’m going to be posting about in a few days by Jonathan Franzen which  deals with coping with successful fathers, so it was on my mind].  Indeed, in an article from a few years ago, Teddy said that at first he never listened to his parents music because it was folkie and he like rock.  But after a while: “I started to be more aware of how much people loved [my parents],” he said. “When I started doing (music) for a living, I felt, ‘I’m not as good a guitar player as my dad. My voice isn’t as good as my mother’s.'”  His mother is Linda Thompson who does have an amazing voice.  So it must be intimidating to be on with a guy that is so good and so beloved.

But Teddy has a great voice as well (more powerful than Richard’s), he sounds a bit like Neil Finn from Crowded House.  Teddy played about a dozen songs.  I actually didn’t recognize any of them, but I enjoyed them all.   As I said his voice is strong–and is really the selling point, because while the melodies are very good, they are also rather simple.  I don’t know that anything was as catchy as the songs by his dad, but of course plays a very different style of music–a kind of country folk with an occasional hard edge (both Thompsons only played acoustic guitar for this show).

I don’t know what their relationship is like (I always assume that famous (relatively) people’s children hate them.  But it was clear that Richard was proud of his son when he came out.  (more…)

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