Tag Archives: Needle and Thread

Richard Thompson – Sweet Warrior – Classic Music Review

There is a commonly held belief that musicians in most genres hit their peak somewhere in their twenties and early thirties. Alan Cross, musicologist and host of the long-running Canadian documentary radio series The Ongoing History of New Music, went a step further in a 2013 article titled “All Musicians Peak in Their 20s.” Here’s an excerpt:

. . . what is especially interesting is that well-established bands never surpass their heydays. U2 are still putting out records, but there will never be another Joshua Tree (seriously, can you remember more than three songs from Atomic Bomb?… wait, maybe you can). Paul McCartney will never co-write another Rubber Soul. Pearl Jam won’t make another Versus. The list is endless. This is the polar opposite of every other profession, wherein experience just makes you better and better . . .

. . . (Another) possible explanation is that successful bands and artists get rich and lazy.  They have made their millions and the fire in the belly is gone. Either that or the money lets them diverge into more eccentric musical pathways and risk-taking (see Radiohead).

Cross admits he has zero scientific evidence to support his assertion. I could quibble with his musical tastes (in my view neither U2 nor Pearl Jam ever had a peak, McCartney’s best work was on Revolver, and Radiohead is anything but eccentric), but while his hypothesis is technically flimsy, the truth is that most people believe that once a musician reaches a certain stage in life, they’re past their prime. Yesterday’s news. Driving on fumes. Tailor-made for the low-end casino circuit and nostalgia tours.

We can thank our lucky stars that Richard Thompson ignored such ageist nonsense. I certainly don’t hear any hints of hardening arteries in Sweet Warrior; I hear a highly energized musician at the top of his game, a bandleader whose passion inspired his impressive supporting cast to leave it all on the playing field. The music feels fresh and alive; the lyrics are full of witty wordplay and often searing imagery. Richard’s guitar work shows no sign of decay, and his mature baritone is infinitely more pleasing than the voice of the much younger man who recorded Henry the Human Fly.

According to accepted beliefs, Richard Thompson should have been washed up no later than 1984, but he recorded this rich and energetic album twenty-three years after what was supposed to be his peak at the age of fifty-seven.

Fuck common wisdom. Fifty-seven is the new twenty-five!


“Needle and Thread” kicks things off in a light and humorous vein—unless you happen to be the narrator of the story, who is having a bitch of a time navigating the mystery of mating rituals. Problem #1: he has more than a touch of Goldilocks in his personality:

I see young girls with old faces
I see good girls in bad places
I see plain girls in finery
And every one be the death of me

In addition to being picky, he’s also something of a prude (or traditionalist, if you prefer). He rejects a girl named Caitlin for “Shaking all she had at the topless bar/Right in the face of Ben and Bob.” Geez, man, a girl’s gotta make a living and in a tough job market tits are always a highly marketable fallback. Just because she wiggles her knockers in public doesn’t mean she’s banging all her admirers. What the hell is your hangup, anyway?

Problem #2: He’s not Long Dong Silver.

Now sweet Myfanwe she took a shine
And she dumped me for Dai worked down the mine
Said I was a temp, Dai was a keeper
He knew how to dig that little bit deeper

Now Bonnie Jean meant everything
But she threw back my hard-earned ring
Said she had other men who dig her
She was holding out for something bigger

To be fair, he seems to be one of the thousands of people for whom sex isn’t a priority–he’s looking for a more idealized version of love than the titillating version celebrated in various forms of media. The poor kid can’t get himself in sync with “modern love,” hence his need to “sew my soul back together again” every time he faces yet another disappointment. “Needle and Thread” is another great character sketch from Richard Thompson, the grownup version of “Read About Love.” Extra kudos for using the Welsh name Myfanwe, which translates to “pretty little one,” a fair and accurate description of what the narrator is looking for in a woman.

While I love the story, the real attraction of “Needle and Thread” is Richard Thompson’s guitar. In the first two verses, he teases us with a series of nimble and tasty fills then proceeds to send us into ecstasy with the solo, a barrage of bends and quick turns that sync beautifully with the song’s intense strutting rhythm. The placement of the solo also demonstrates solid compositional instincts, as it marks the split between Problem #1 and Problem #2. Even more impressive is the version on Live Warrior, where the use of a smaller band necessitates a greater role for the lead guitarist. Richard responds accordingly to deliver an absolutely sizzling performance.

Though he remains a U.K. citizen, Richard Thompson has lived in the United States since 1985. He told The Guardian that he “never wanted to be culturally absorbed by America. I can contribute more having a culturally British point of view.” Cultural absorption was highly unlikely anyway, given his status as a devout Muslim. As an outsider twice over, he has a unique perspective on American life in the early 21st century.

Written at the height of the War on Terror, “I’ll Never Give It Up” presents one side of a “conversation” between a Muslim narrator and one of the many Americans who adopted the belief that Islamophobia was an essential component of American patriotism:

I can’t eat, I can’t sleep
Knowing that you’re on your midnight creep
I can’t jump. I can’t jive
Knowing that you want me dead or alive
There’s no half way with you
You see red, white and blue
What holds your head on could use another screw 

Though Richard Thompson doesn’t look like the American stereotype of a “towelhead” and likely escaped direct harassment, he probably felt a great deal of angst regarding his religious compatriots of color who were surrounded by people programmed to fear and hate them. The truth is that most Americans were anti-Muslim long before 9/11 thanks to Munich and the Iranian Revolution, but that brazen attack on the homeland supplied them with the bogeyman they’d been missing since the collapse of the Soviet Union:

When the sky fell in, you cried and blackness welled inside
And how your little brain got twisted and fried

Richard’s British origins allowed him to view events in America with greater objectivity, particularly regarding the response of the Bush II administration to 9/11. The Americans may have killed a few terrorists, but by invading two predominantly Muslim countries and allowing the news media to brand any and all Muslims as possible terrorists, they made it more likely that Muslims everywhere would embrace anti-Americanism:

You’re someone I can’t help betray
Because you built me up that way

The music features two all-star performances. The first is Danny Thompson’s double bass, confirming his status as a master of that challenging instrument, still in possession of his chops in his mid-sixties. The second is Richard’s vocal, delivered with extreme and understandable passion and palpable outrage at the blind injustice of it all.

Come on, do your worst, boy
That’s the way, that’s the way
Hit me where it hurts, boy,
That’s the way, that’s the way
Puff until you burst, boy
That’s the way, that’s the way
But I’ll never give it up
I’ll never give it up

I translate “I’ll never give it up” as a combination of “I will never give up my faith” and “I won’t help you track down good people you’ve branded as terrorists because of their name, color or country of origin.” “Hit me where it hurts” is likely a not-so-subtle reference to the beatings, waterboarding and other forms of torture ostensibly used to break terrorists, but in the end, those bestial practices dealt more damage to American credibility than it did to those accused of terrorism.

It’s time for something a bit more on the calm side, and though “Take Care the Road You Choose” is a sad song about “the one who got away” (or, more accurately, “the one I pushed away”), I’ll take it. It’s a remarkably beautiful song set to gentle, reflective music . . . with something close to a happy ending . . . maybe.

The bulk of “Take Care the Road You Choose” consists of the narrator meditating on what went wrong in the relationship. He appears to blame himself for the failure, but rather than taking the self-pity path, he comes to the realization that he simply wasn’t ready to make the commitment:

If it had been some other place
Some other time to find me
If I had been in my right mind
Not looking for ghosts behind me . . .

If I ever get out of my mind
Guillotine myself to stop me dreaming
And let my heart go where it will
Without those other voices screaming

If only, if only, if only . . . It seems that the “ghosts” and “other voices” are the weighty expectations we all have to deal with, whether they come from parents, peers or the self. Those expectations are nearly always at odds with what we want from life, preventing us from following our hearts, our instincts and our own version of common sense. We all choose the wrong road more than once in our lives; what matters is how we deal with the detour. In the end, the narrator finds some form of salvation by taking the risk to reconnect with his lost lover:

With my radar I’ll find you, darling
No regrets to blind you, darling
And never look behind
Take care the road you choose

Richard’s vocal conveys an emotional honesty that tells me he’s had more than a few relational detours, and I always find such honesty comforting, even when it triggers disappointment. Truth is so much better than untruth.

Dark, sad . . . hey, Richard! Can we have a little fun now? Damn if he doesn’t have just the thing—“Mr. Stupid!”

This brilliantly constructed character sketch displays Richard Thompson’s gift for non-linear story development. Mr. Stupid narrates the song, a stylistic choice that allows Richard to exploit a common assumption: listeners and readers nearly always assume that the narrator is a good guy or girl.

The song begins in the courtroom, where Mr. Stupid and his soon-to-be-ex are quibbling over the divorce settlement. Things aren’t going well for Mr. Stupid:

If I say what’s on my mind, dear
The judge will slap me down
You’ve got me in the corner
And it’s only the second round
So I’ll keep my mouth shut, darling
I’ll be quiet as a lamb
And I’ll act just as dumb, dear
As you really think I am

I’ll shake your hand like a ‘Rang Utan
Be as goofy as a clown
Clear the streets and book your seats
Mr. Stupid’s back in town

Poor guy. Sounds like he drew a fem-a-nazi judge. And the wife sounds like one mean bitch. She’s obviously called him stupid and that’s not very nice. His hurt feelings are entirely understandable and he’s clearly the victim in this case . . . though I really think his lawyer needs to tell Mr. Stupid to knock it off with the verbal displays of excessive bile.

Unfortunately, Mr. Stupid’s lawyer has a client control problem: the guy can’t shut up to save his life . . . or his case:

When your friends point out you’re stuck with
A Neanderthal for an ex
Don’t fret about it, darling
I still sign my name on cheques
I can grunt my way through questions
I can scratch myself and howl
I can numb you with my dumbness
I can lay it on with a trowel

Okay, he’s really starting to annoy me now, but instead of dispensing with the relational radioactivity, he doubles down by fully immersing himself in his alternate identity. The narration shifts to a third-person narrative, where the real Mr. Stupid is unmasked:

On your 37th birthday
When he handed you that mink
Did you still feel like a victim
With your elbows in the sink
But I’ve said too much already
Now I think I’ll step aside
‘Cause my alter ego’s ready
For any questions on your mind

Andy Gill of The Independent referred to Mr. Stupid as a “rich oaf.” I’ll go one step further and call him a complete fucking asshole. A rich guy buys a trophy wife and thinks he’s the victim because she wanted more out of a relationship than a mink? I don’t know . . . for some reason this clown kinda reminds me of another rich guy who bought three trophy wives and rode his sense of victimization all the way to the White House. Sometimes Richard’s sarcasm can taste a bit too bitter, but here he makes me laugh with his inspired rhymes and well-crafted characterization. The band sounds like they’re having a good time as well as they let it rip on the album’s strongest rocker.

The song that drew the most attention (and deservedly so) was “Dad’s Gonna Kill Me.” If you’ve never heard the song you may make the understandable mistake that the father of the soldier-narrator is some kind of pacifist who was pissed off that his son enlisted in the armed forces. When you learn that “Dad” is GI slang for “Baghdad,” all the pieces in the puzzle come together like magic.

The carefully-designed arrangement sets the stage for a compelling if often uncomfortable journey through life in the second Iraq war as experienced by a G.I. The verses relate the soldier’s inner dialogue; the music is minimalist, relatively quiet (super-minimalist in the verse where the soldier faces the very real possibility of death) and based on a single chord (B major), creating unrelenting tension in the central narrative. The truncated chorus “Dad’s gonna kill me” is set to a simple chord pattern of G/Bm to highlight the soldier’s sense of impending doom. The three bridges describe specific events involving close calls or death; the music is explosive, with the band playing at full strength and volume. The most intriguing constant in the arrangement comes from Sara Watkins, whose fills reflect superb musical instincts in contributions that are more attuned to the emotional content of the narrative than the musical progression.

The first verse makes it clear that Richard Thompson isn’t going to pull any punches. He wants to clear the listener’s head of any notion that war is a glorious endeavor and that death or injury in battle is the height of patriotic sacrifice:

Out in the desert there’s a soldier lying dead
Vultures pecking the eyes out of his head
Another day that could have been me there instead
Nobody loves me here
Nobody loves me here

Dad’s gonna kill me
Dad’s gonna kill me

In the version on Live Warrior, Richard changes the “Nobody” lines to “Nobody wants me here,” and “Nobody needs me here.” All three lines emphasize the fundamental dishonesty behind the mission—the Iraqis didn’t really welcome the American presence, didn’t want the Americans to stick around and didn’t really think they needed American “help” in rebuilding their country. Young men and women were essentially tricked into believing that they would be performing a useful service for a long-oppressed people while striking another blow against Islamic terrorism.

Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq were all stunning failures—failures of leadership. Don’t blame the soldiers, for even if they bought into the racist assumptions underpinning all. three of those unfortunate wars, their leaders were responsible for their indoctrination:

You hit the booby trap and you’re in pieces
With every bullet your risk increases
Old Ali Baba, he’s a different species

The song is filled with gruesome but accurate imagery: “Hug the wire and pray like I told you, Mac/Or they’ll be shoveling bits of you into a sack,” “Another angel got his wings this week/Charbroiled with his own willie pete [white phosphorous grenade].” Meanwhile back in the homeland, politicians end their speeches with “May god protect our troops,” half-drunken baseball fans stumble through the lyrics to “God Bless America” in the seventh-inning stretch and draft-dodging commentators who never came within a thousand miles of a battlefield drone on and on about the “bravery of our boys.”

Woo, dad’s in a bad mood, dad’s got the blues
It’s someone else’s mess that I didn’t choose
At least we’re winning on the Fox evening news

Yeah, the same crowd that champions “family values.” Really?

I’ve got a wife, a kid, another on the way
I might get home if I can live through today
Before I came out here I never used to pray

And those “reporting” from air-conditioned studios in their designer clothes and professionally applied makeup will never experience or honestly acknowledge the stark reality of war and its impact on human beings:

Who’s that stranger walking in my dreams?
Whose that stranger cast a shadow ‘cross my heart?
Who’s that stranger, I dare speak his name?
Must be old death a-walking
Must be old death a-walking

Any discussion of Richard Thompson’s greatest works that excludes “Dad’s Gonna Kill Me” is a waste of time and energy. This dark and brutally honest song is an undeniable masterpiece.

The one mistake in the track order comes in the form of “Poppy Red,” a mournful but curiously upbeat tune about the death of a lover, likely from suicide. “Dad’s Gonna Kill Me” supplied more than enough death to deal with, so I find it very hard to listen to this song in sequence. The song is well-performed and has a surprisingly memorable melody, but I think a slightly slower tempo and the addition of a cello would have yielded better results.

Then again, following “Dad’s Gonna Kill Me” with the zydeco-rockabilly feel of “Bad Monkey” would have been intolerably jarring and unfair to both songs. This high-speed ride is an absolute gas featuring three standout performances. The song needed an octopus on the drum kit, and Michael Jerome is not only ambidextrous but double-jointed! Jerome performs drumming miracles without seeming to break a sweat, delivering a never-let-up-for-a-second barrage of fills and steady beats. Tenor saxophonist Joe Sublett has a great, fat sound that has all the power of a saxophone quartet, giving the song greater heft. And then there’s that guy Thompson, who dazzles us with three solos. The most remarkable of the three comes during the fade when he supplements the pattern with blue and dissonant notes while fingering at turbo-speed. What amazes me about this stunning display is that out of all the possibilities available to him on the fretboard, he invariably chooses the right note played with the right technique at the right time—and if you’ve ever seen him live or on video, his face during a solo is often expressionless, as if he’s just standing around doing nothing in particular. If I had one-thousandth of Richard Thompson’s guitar skills, I’d be one happy camper.

The lyrics allow Richard to play the role of advice columnist/counselor as he tries to help a woman who has to deal with an immature jerk for a partner. My favorite verse-chorus sequence is the second:

I see your nerves are jangled, honey,
You’re a walking emotional wreck.
He’s dealing you some jokers
Off the bottom of the deck.
He goes from joy to suicide
About 15 times a day.
Here’s the thing to scream out loud
From 100 miles away.

Said shame, shame on you, you Bad Monkey!
One day you’re up, next day you’re down,
Why do you monkey my heart around?
I said shame, shame on you, you Bad Monkey!
I’m not comin’ on the roller coaster with you.

Wow. I would have just said, “Fuck that guy” and called for my next patient. I’d make a lousy counselor.

We shift from Louisiana to Jamaica for “Francesca,” a tune set to a reggae rhythm. The story (such as it is) involves a woman who was laid low by gossipers who “dragged her name through the dirt” and now charges by the hour in her new role as “whore of the world.” It’s pretty hard to connect those dots unless you believe that any woman would respond to mean-spirited gossip by screaming to the world, “You say I’m a whore? Okay! I’ll show you a whore!” I’m also not happy with the assumption that doing sex work is a comedown or the result of psychological damage. As noted in this article from Open Society Foundations, sex workers aren’t all that different than non-sex-workers when it comes to feelings about the job: some do it because they can’t find anything else that pays the bills; some don’t care all that much for the job but like the perks; and others love what they do. Not one of Richard Thompson’s most informed or insightful works.

Lingering resentment is the topic of “Too Late to Come Fishing,” where the narrator surprisingly but not happily finds himself the object of a woman’s affection—a former vixen who “looked at me like I crawled from the swamp.” Things have changed over the years; he’s now successful and her show biz career is on the slide. What hasn’t changed is the hurt of the original rejection . . . and he gets really, really nasty about it:

I’ve seen your work in that TV sketch
Playing poison women is hardly a stretch
And you were type-cast as the Stone Age charmer
In that Darwin docudrama
I’d say our time has all but disappeared
Just like the shine on your fabulous career

Though I wish that another verse had been added where the guy realizes he’s being rather petty and takes the high road instead of the low road, I rather like the song, especially when Judith Owen and Richard harmonize in the chorus. On the other hand, I’m not particularly fond of “Sneaky Boy” with its twisted melody, odd arrangement and betrayal story with no climax.

For the dream ballad “She Sang Angels to Rest,” Richard arranged and conducted a string trio of Joe Buck (first violin), Al Michaels (second violin) and Novi Ola (viola). The strings blend well with his acoustic guitar and sweetly earnest vocal. The arrangement itself is a nice change of pace from the general intensity; the lyrics are appropriately symbolic and elusive, as is the “she” in the song title. The woman can be viewed as either terrestrial or spiritual, vocalist or muse—take your pick. In the end, it’s a fine piece of music that reminds us that there’s more to life than the mundane.

The narrative in “Johnny’s Far Away” is simple and to the point. Johnny’s off with his cèilidh band, providing entertainment for wealthy widows on an extended cruise. Tracey’s stuck at home with the snot-nosed kids, boozing away. Both take the opportunity of separation to fuck other partners and both engage in certain sexual practices that they’d never even suggest to each other. Johnny comes home and in a few days he and Tracey resume a sexual relationship that we BDSMers call “vanilla sex”: the good old reliable missionary position. “If vanilla’s all you’ve got I’m not one to complain” goes the song “She Likes to Move” by Acoustic Disturbance, an appropriate description of Johnny and Tracey’s it’s-better-than-nothing intimacy.

Richard’s delivery of the lyrics that tell the story are as matter-of-fact as my prose version . . . and I think that’s the point. There are two main definitions for the word “prosaic”: “having the style or diction of prose; lacking poetic beauty” and “commonplace; unromantic.” Neither party is particularly happy with the arrangement, but they stick with it, saving their best for naughty affairs. They live prosaic lives in every sense of the word, and I feel really sorry for those kids.

The music to “Johnny’s Far Away” was described as “sea shanty” by Andy Gill; I would say that it’s the most folk-traditional piece on the album. Danny Thompson’s bass part is bold and assertive; Sara Watkins continues to amaze; and Richard . . . well, I think you already know that he’s one hell of a guitar player.

I am 100% sure that when the aliens come and survey life on our little speck of dust, the report to Central Command will open with: “The inhabitants of this planet are notable for their extreme obsession with sex, violence and the pursuit of material wealth.” The song “Guns Are the Tongues” deal with a wicked combination of the first two obsessions.

First, some clarifications. The setting is not Ireland during The Troubles. Richard mentions a “place” named Glengarry; there is no such place in Ireland. As he explained during a fan Q&A referenced in Ken Bigger’s Sing Out! blog post on the album, “This song is fiction, and not based on any real characters. Put it in Ireland if you like, but I left the setting a little vague. The politics is supposed to be more of a backdrop to the human drama.”

What’s not in question is that the actors in the song belong to some kind of terrorist group at war with some unknown power. Unusually but not unheard of, the group is led by a woman:

Carrie ran a murderous crew
Dedicated through and through
And the chance to prove they never squandered
And they liked to kill so clean
Save the innocent, kill the mean
But from time to time, a bullet wandered

Such an organization is likely to have a high attrition rate, and always on the lookout for fresh blood, Carrie spots a kid who goes by the name Little Joe, an ironic moniker since “he scraped the ceiling.” Her recruitment methods are both unique and effective:

And when he was the worse for wear
She took him up the stair
And soon he fell
For her brand of healing

She said, I’ll lie like a rose on your pillow
Let me twine the laurel in your hair
I want to smell my love on your fingers
If you want to be mine, Little Joe
You must harden your mind, Little Joe
We’ve got to fight for what is ours
Bring peace to the grave of my brother
Bring peace to the grave of my father
Dry the old eyes of my mother
Little Joe

As a woman who loves to spread her legs, I can honestly tell you that I’ve never used my sexual prowess to inspire a man to commit murder on my behalf. I may be kinky, but Carrie is one sick fuck. She closes her recruitment pitch by mingling sex and violence to form a bizarre erotic connection:

If you show you’ve got the stuff
That you’re sworn and brave enough
Then you’ll stand tall
In the eyes of your Carrie

And I will lie like a rose on your pillow
And I’ll twine the laurel in your hair
I want to smell revenge on your fingers

She gets her wish.

Now Little Joe would’ve jumped clear
But for the awful fear
Of scraping his knees there on the gravel
The car was a rolling bomb
Blew all to Kingdom Come
They marvelled how far
His boots had travelled

Another hero snatched from my pillow
I used to twine the laurel in his hair
I want to smell sacrifice on my fingers
Guns are the tongues, Little Joe

Killing and sex, revenge and sex, sacrifice and cunnilingus. The equation guns = tongues takes on a double meaning: guns give us a voice and guns are sensual tools like tongues that meet in deep kissing or trigger orgasms via oral sex. As for Little Joe . . . his only legacy is an honored spot in Carrie’s scrapbook, where she keeps pictures of all her fallen lovers.

You may think this is a ghastly yet interesting tale about one fucked-up broad, but Richard insisted he was concerned with the broader human drama represented in this tale. As luck would have it, the key to interpreting the song was contained in the question posed to Richard by the fan in the Q&A referenced above: I’ve yet to encounter a less dogmatic, less simplistic portrait of the tragic seductiveness of terrorism.

Think about all those naïve kids from Western countries who joined ISIS.  Think about the guys who crashed the planes into the Twin Towers and the Pentagon who believed they would be rewarded with a harem of virgins for their evil deeds. Think about the nude models who pose seductively while caressing an assault rifle. Sex is seductive by nature, but when did the world become so fucked-up that violence would become a turn-on?

The track opens with a metallic drone soon joined by light snare, bass and Richard’s mandolin; Richard adds electric guitar after the second verse; Sara Watkins makes another vital contribution as the builds kick in. The music isn’t quite as minimalist as in the verses “Dad’s Gonna Kill Me,” and rather than making noticeable shifts in chording and dynamic, the band forms a series of slow builds that end in climactic fashion; those climaxes also feature a hurdy-gurdy and prettier melodies to reflect Carrie’s heartfelt passion for her work. With its odd verse structure and the challenges involved in composing to unbalanced lines and verses, “Guns Are the Tongues” is a daring and ultimately satisfying composition with a unique and profound message.

I’ve heard the phrase, “save the best for last” a zillion times, but with Sweet Warrior, Richard Thompson saved the most beautiful for last. “Sunset Song” is a mesmerizing, sumptuous work of rare beauty, marked by some of the loveliest tones I’ve ever heard from an acoustic guitar. For the most part, the arrangement is limited to acoustic guitar, a block and a harmonium; Danny Thompson makes a brief but effective appearance on bass, and  Michael Jerome enters with light drums and cymbals in the song’s most intense passage. The harmonium (played by Richard) is used to great effect to apply short orchestral-like builds in the bridges. Richard’s vocal is one of his best, his tone and phrasing reflecting the quieter conversations of early morning mixed with impatient determination to move on to the next stop in life:

Early morning, that’s the time
For fare-thee-wells
Slip out of the warm sheets and gone
But I want to hear it as I walk along
Hear the Sunset Song

Though he made himself clear to the woman whose bed he shares that the arrangement was temporary (he never unpacked his suitcase), intimate relations always form a bond no matter how long they last, and the act of leaving always involves pain:

With you or without you, love,
I must be moving
Never meant to linger here so long
With you or without you,
Though it breaks my heart
To hear the Sunset Song

I’ve rarely heard a closing song as deeply satisfying and meaningful as “Sunset Song.”

In further defiance of age-related bias, Sweet Warrior turned out to be anything but Richard Thompson’s sunset, having since released several studio and live albums of remarkable quality while composing the score for documentary The Cold Blue. And yes, he’s still a road warrior, with a USA tour scheduled for this summer. My hope is that he lives as long as humanly possible and continues to bless us with his exceptional musicianship and songwriting mastery.

I never want to imagine a world without Richard Thompson.

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