I write about songs.

Archive for the ‘Richard and Linda Thompson’ Category

Richard and Linda Thompson, “A Heart Needs a Home”

Two years ago I interviewed Linda Thompson for The Believer. (Alas, the text isn’t on-line, but the introduction and a teaser are here.) She told me stories about her early years in the British folk scene and the circle that had formed around Fairport Convention, and about her late friends Nick Drake and Sandy Denny. “There’s hardly ever been a voice that really throws me like Sandy’s,” she said. “All the new people I listen to, I think, are they as good as Sandy?” As she said this, I was thinking, I feel the same way … but about you!

Linda was one of the warmest, funniest people I’ve ever interviewed. The part I remember best—I was stumbling around a question about her divorce in the early 1980s from the musician Richard Thompson, with whom she had recorded six albums. It’s a famous divorce, because their last album, Shoot Out the Lights, is considered a famous divorce album. Still, I didn’t want to offend her by asking questions that were too personal, or to bring up painful memories. I asked her if she minded talking about it. “Peter,” she said, graciously, “I don’t mind talking about anything. Nothing offends me.” We discussed the way fans tend to mythologize the lives of musicians based on their music. “If they read those things into it,” she said, “that’s true for them and that’s good. As long as they’re listening, it’s fine.”

I edited an anthology of essays about rock albums last year, and when the publisher sent me some copies, one of the first things I did was send one to Linda. About a week later I got back a postcard, saying that she had started to read the book. “LOVING IT!!” she wrote. The anthology got a lot of nice reviews, but I have to admit that this was my favorite.

Aside from the flawless performance, the thing I like about this clip from a 1975 broadcast of The Old Grey Whistle Test is the soft-spokenness of the TV presenter. I don’t watch a lot of television, but I can’t imagine there are any introducers these days who speak to the audience with such a soothing voice.

Written by peterterzian

January 11, 2010 at 9:50 pm


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