Here’s a short list of some of the better known Richard Thompson songs (some of course written with his wife at the time, Linda.)
Waltzing’s For Dreamers
I Want To See The Bright Lights Tonight
Down Where The Drunkards Roll
Galway To Graceland
Don’t Sit On My Jimmy Shands
1952 Vincent Black Lightning
Wall Of Death
Tear Stained Letter
The Dimming Of The Day
Withered And Died
When Will I Ever Be Simple Again
New St George
Al Bowly’s In Heaven
All of the above have become standards in the folk world and have been covered by many artists: Los Lobos, Emmylou Harris, June Tabor, Dave Burland, Dick Gaughan, Sandy Denny, Norma Waterson, Mary Black, Patty Loveless, R.E.M., Nanci Griffith, Bonny Raitt and Jo-El Sonnier – and those were just a few that I pulled out of the www. hat.
From his work with Fairport Convention and then his solo work, which resulted in Henry The Human Fly – he showed what was going to come from him as a songwriter.
Though heavily influenced by his early days as a rock and roll guitarist, he also showed the influence of both traditional folk music and the pop and dance band music he heard as a child.
Together with Linda, who co-wrote some of the songs I’ve mentioned, he produced a string of great albums such as I Want To See The Bright Lights Tonight / Hokey Pokey and Pour Down Like Silver.
Since then he has gone on to produce a body of songs that stand as modern classics and his live appearances always surpass the ordinary.
I watched him once on mainstage Cambridge and, for a while, was convinced that Danny Thompson was playing somewhere hidden behind the PA stacks – his guitar work was so masterly it sounded as though he had a bass player working on stage with him.
What I find most interesting about his songwriting is his storytelling; he understands the need for narrative and classics like 1952 Vincent Black Lightning, Beeswing and Galway To Graceland are modern folk ballads.