Tag Archives: Richard Thompson

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.


2021 Song Draft- Round 6 Pick 4- Mike and Paul’s Music Blog selects- ‘1952 Vincent Black Lightning’- Richard Thompson. Richard Thompson 1952 Vincent …


Richard Thompson’s Electric Trio at Musikfest Cafe 11/9/18

Richard Thompson may be one of the best artists and performers you’ve never heard of. In a career spanning 5 decades he has produced often brilliant music starting with the band Fairport Convention in the late sixties, to his acclaimed work in the seventies with his wife Linda to his solo work over the last 40 years. 

 His work ranges from beautiful acoustic English folk to up tempo raucous rock and roll. All of his music is punctuated by his technically amazing guitar playing, brilliant vocals and great songwriting . He is truly one of the best guitarists on the planet.

 All of this was on display last night in Bethlehem at the Musikfest Cafe at a show sponsored by WXPN. Thompson brought his Electric Trio to the intimate venue to play for an adoring crowd of about 350.

Over 2 1/2 hours the band highlighted material from Thompson’s new album “13 Songs” in between music from his entire career. I was not extensively familiar with his whole catalogue but that barely mattered. 

His opener “Bones of Gilead “ and the “Rattle Within” from the new album stand up to his older material. One of the highlights for me off the new record was “Her Love was Meant for Me”

At age 69 his voice is as strong as ever as is his guitar playing. He showed off a little with a song called “Guitar Heroes” that talked from his personal experience as a teen learning guitar and trying to play like his heroes. He then proceeded to play perfectly in the style of Django Rheinhardt, Les Paul and Chuck Berry.

The center piece of the show was an amazing version of the acoustic  “52 Vincent Black Lightning “ from his solo 1991 album Rumor and Sigh. 

He ended the main set with one of his live staples, the classic “Tear Stained Letter” featuring aback and forth sing along with the crowd and an absolutely scorching guitar solo.

He returned for the first encore alone to play  “Beeswing” and the hauntingly beautiful “Dimming of the Day”.

He brought out his bass player and drummer as well as his guitar tech for the final encore and tore the place down with “Trying” and the cover “Take a Heart”

While I was only familiar with about half the songs he played, it made no difference. It was absolutely fantastic to sit and just absorb great music live in such  a perfect setting. Needless to say , I’ll be diving in to Richard Thompson’s back catalogue.

Creeps, Deviants and Psychopaths

So its that time of year – Halloween.  Traditionally its has been associated with ghosts, vampires, and monsters.  Spooky fun.  But in the US, especially in the last 50 years, the holiday has also become associated with slasher flicks, serial killers, and other psychopaths – blame John Carpenter’s classic movie Halloween.  Or maybe not – maybe this is just my excuse to do a blog on some of my favorite songs about creeps and deviants.  I’m sure there’s a whole subgenre of these songs that I’m not aware of – my picks are by artists that you’ve probably heard of and that I’ve always liked.  And one is probably the creepiest song I have ever heard.  So without further adieu:

More Than I Can Do- Steve Earle

From his come back album of sorts, I Feel Alright, this uptempo song seems at first to just be about a guy’s unrequited love for someone – but as it continues it definitely moves into stalker territory.  “You left me just when I needed you
So l ain’t even close to through with you.”  Definitely Creepy.

I Feel So GoodRichard Thompson

From Rumor and Sigh, this song is definitely not an endorsement for the ability to reform juvenile delinquents.  Again, a pretty uptempo melody but there’s no denying where things are going right from the start: “I feel so good I’m going to Break somebody’s heart tonight I feel so good I’m going to Take someone apart tonight.’ And it goes from there.  Definitely Deviant.

Excitable Boy – Warren Zevon

From the album of the same name, this darkly humorous little ditty from the incomparable Warren Zevon starts weird and moves straight to deviant/psychopathic.  Zevon’s tongue in cheek lyrics – “He’s just an excitable boy” also perhaps are a dark commentary on society’s penchant for making excuses?  Also love the sax solo.

Midnight Rambler – The Rolling Stones

From Let It Bleed, this classic song from the Stones is pure psychopathy and evil.  It was written in part about Albert De Salvo, aka the Boston Strangler, who murdered 13 women in the early 60’s Boston area. Keith Richards has called it a blue opera, or a blues in 4 parts, even though the chord sequence isn’t a blues one.

And the finale, the song that always creeps me out just listening to it –

What’s He Building in There – Tom Waits.

From the album Mule Variations.  Not really a song, as much as a spoken word performance with a montage of assorted random background sounds.  Is it about a misunderstood freak?  A deviant, or something darker?  That’s the beauty of it – you can only wonder.   If you listen to any of these songs, listen to this one – even in the middle of the day,  it’ll freak you out.

Ok I have to go turn on every light in the house right now – til later…… oh, and Happy Halloween!

Sources: Wikipedia, Genius Lyrics, SongFacts