Richard Thompson – Beeswing

This past week my selection for Hanspostcard‘s song draft was 1952 Vincent Black Lightning, by Richard Thompson, available here. In the comment thread, fellow blogger Aphoristical pointed out that Thompson’s Beeswing was just as good. Having not heard it in a while, I went back and listened to it, and I have to agree!

Since I haven’t posted any Sunday morning song in forever, I thought this would be a great choice

Beeswing is off of Thompson’s 1994 album Mirror Blue. Like 1952 Vincent Black Lightning, its a slower ballad about two doomed lovers, although this time there’s no death or motorcycles involved. This time, the individual needs and desires of the two, and their inability to agree about what they want in life and in their relationship, leaves each alone by the end of the song, and regretting the ways things turned out (at least from the protagonist’s perspective, but maybe from both?).

The couple meet working in a wash house, and he’s immediately taken with her beauty, but she wants no type of commitment:

Oh she was a rare thing, fine as a bee’s wing
So fine a breath of wind might blow her away
She was a lost child, oh she was running wild
She said “As long as there’s no price on love, I’ll stay
And you wouldn’t want me any other way”

They move on from the wash house, living here and there, until he suggests settling down – that doesn’t go over too well:

And I said that we might settle down, get a few acres dug
Fire burning in the hearth and babies on the rug
She said “Oh man, you foolish man, it surely sounds like hell
You might be lord of half the world, you’ll not own me as well”

They end up splitting up, and we get to the song’s conclusion, where the man laments how things turned out:

And they say her flower is faded now, hard weather and hard booze
But maybe
that’s just the price you pay for the chains you refuse

Oh she was a rare thing, fine as a bee’s wing
And I miss her more than ever words could say
If I could just taste all of her wildness now
If I could hold her in my arms today
Well I wouldn’t want her any other way

Thompson’s brilliance is in telling this tragic love story so eloquently in a five and a half minute song – the lyrics stand alone even if you removed the music – you feel the heady early romance, the pain and torment as things start to go astray, and the bitter regret looking back at a lost love.

Beeswing is a great example of Thompson’s brilliance as a songwriter.

8 thoughts on “Richard Thompson – Beeswing”

  1. So good, Paul. Also, another great example of Thompson’s guitar-playing.

    Richard Thompson has been on “my list” forever to explore. A dear long-time friend and music connoisseur from Germany has repeatedly encouraged to do so over the past few years, along with Fairport Convention.

    I just need to get myself to focus and do it! With limited time and so many other “music distractions,” it’s tough to do!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks Christian yes agree. I didn’t even mention the guitar playing ! Yes I hear you about finding time to dive in – so many artists to explore and only so much time. Unfortunately a lot of times it doesn’t happen until after someone passes and then I regret not checking out sooner with chance to see live

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Paul, I couldn’t find the “like” button, but I do love the song more than words can say. He is a brilliant storyteller with his lyrics, and add the superior guitar skills, you’ve got art that is extraordinary. Thanks for giving me the heads-up on the post, much appreciated. Nice write-up!

    Liked by 1 person

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