Richard Thompson Announces First-Ever Memoir, ‘Beeswing,’ Out 2021

Richard Thompson "Beeswing"

Richard Thompson’s memoir, ‘Beeswing: Losing My Way and Finding My Voice 1967-1975.,’ is out in 2021.

Richard Thompson has been one of rock’s MVPs since the mid-Sixties. He was a founding member of Fairport Convention — the band that invented the merger of rock and British folk — and his subsequent, musically timeless albums with his ex-wife Linda have long been revered: Their 1982 Shoot Out the Lights made Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. He’s also earned the respect of many of his fellow musicians; his songs have been covered by Elvis Costello, Emmylou Harris, Robert Plant, Bonnie Raitt, Dinosaur Jr., Bob Mould, and the Pointer Sisters, among many.

Thompson has lived quite the life, and fans can read all about it next spring with the publication of Beeswing: Losing My Way and Finding My Voice 1967-1975. Tracing his life from his childhood, through his Fairport days, and into his music and life with the former Linda Peters, Beeswing is, in the words of publisher Algonquin, “an intimate look at a period of great cultural tumult, chronicling the early years of one of the world’s most significant and influential guitarists and songwriters.” The memoir will be published April 6th in the U.S. (by Algonquin) and April 15th in the U.K. (by Faber Books).

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Fairport’s “Farewell, Farewell”

Farewell, Farewell
Written by Richard Thompson

Farewell, farewell to you who’d hear
You lonely travelers all
The cold north wind will blow again
The winding road does call

And will you never return to see
Your bruised and beaten sons
Oh I would, I would if welcome I were
For they loathe me every one

And will you never cut the cloth
Or drink the light to be
And can you never swear a year
To anyone but we

No I will never cut the cloth
Or drink the light to be
But I’ll swear a year to one who lies
Asleep along side of me

Farewell, farewell to you who would hear
You lonely travelers all
The cold north wind will blow again
The winding road does call

Richard Thompson at 70: on love, loss and being a Muslim in Trump’s US

The master of British folk music has weathered a second divorce and lives in the US where ‘Trump has ramped up bigotry considerably’. At least ex-wife Linda has forgiven him

Richard Thompson is drinking mint tea in a Hampstead coffee shop – he doesn’t touch coffee or alcohol – and between Islam and cricket, he’s discussing the remarkable guest list for his upcoming 70th birthday celebration at the Royal Albert Hall in London. “I don’t like being the centre of attention, strange as it sounds,” he insists. “I just want to have a few friends over.”

The man the LA Times once hailed as “the finest rock songwriter after Dylan” and “the best electric guitarist since Hendrix” will switch between electric and acoustic guitars, and hopes that “most guests will have time to do a couple of songs”. The 15 guests will include Pink Floyd hero David Gilmour, who has featured alongside Richard in a Rolling Stone magazine best ever guitarist list, and who, as a soloist, covered Richard’s 1975 song Dimming of the Day. “He’ll do that,” says Richard. “And then do something of his … or Floyd’s. He has always been a nice guy and we share a love of all things Fender.”

The cast will also include old and new British folk heroes, from Martin and Eliza Carthy to Olivia Chaney. And then there will be Harry Shearer, the American actor and comedian, reviving his role as Derek Smalls from Spinal Tap, along with his wife Judith Owen who joined Richard in 2006 for the 1,000 Years of Popular Music project, in which they reworked anything from Sumer Is Icumen In to Britney Spears. Continue reading

Richard and Linda Thompson: Hard Luck Stories 1972–1982 review – a tempestuous tale worth retelling

The highlight of this eight-CD box set is 31 previously unreleased tracks

Box sets often exist merely to evacuate the wallets of the faithful. Here, though, over eight CDs (or a big download) is the story of one of the most intriguing partnerships in British music: the silvery folk-rock duo Richard and Linda Thompson. It is a tale worth retelling – and shelling out for.

As vocalists, the Thompsons shared a startling contralto directness that, squared, offered up a vision of often spare, unfussy beauty at one remove from convention or theatricality. This chronology kicks off with the pair’s first casual rock’n’roll experiments for a low-key ensemble project. It ends with the duo’s live immolation, when the Thompsons fulfilled lucrative 1982 tour dates despite their relationship having, as one of their most famous songs goes, “withered and died”.

A little like Fleetwood Mac – a more lucrative British late-60s outcropping – these former soulmates sang songs about their curdled love at one another across blasted North American stages. But Stevie Nicks never gave birth in a Sufi squat without hot water or electricity, or stole a car in Canada on a bender; she may never have kicked Lindsay Buckingham’s shins while he soloed – unlike Linda Pettifer, who, pre-Richard, performed as Linda Peters.

“After I hit Richard on the head with the Coca-Cola bottle it was fine,” Linda Thompson reminisced about that final tour to Rolling Stone in 1985. “I suddenly went from being this lady with three children – covered in scarves, with my eyes turned to the ground – to stealing cars and living on vodka and antidepressants. And I felt fabulous! Hitting everybody. You know, people’d say good morning to me and I’d say, ‘Fuck off.’ It was great therapy.”

The ballad of Richard and Linda has been rehearsed a great many times before of course, and the Thompsons’ work has been amply bootlegged and box-setted previously. But there are many great verses here not previously aired.

Key to the excitement of this collection is its 31 unreleased tracks – such as Amazon Queen, an early Richard Thompson psych-pop outtake, or the demo of Dimming of the Day, unadorned and devastating, on a CD devoted to the duo’s 1975 album Pour Down Like Silver and its outtakes.

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