Sundays, Licks, Funk Folk and Richard Thompson.
I haven’t stopped listening to Richard Thompson’s new tune, “Salford Sunday” since I heard him and his wicked “funk folk” trio perform it live at Massey Hall on Friday night. It doesn’t hurt that he’s got Allison Krauss singing sweet harmonies on the recording, the tightest of rhythm sections and a lovely mandolin chiming through the tune (must be Buddy Miller). I’m sucked in from the start by the sweet guitar lick that runs through the song – of course, it’s sweetness dissolves into the minor, revealing the song’s bitter lyrics of heartache, hangovers, regret and self-loathing. “For I left that weeping willow, she should be lying on my pillow, if I wasn’t such a hardnose, such a perfect waste of time.” Classic RT!
I’m learning or getting more conscious about what a powerful musical tool those licks can be – and am applying this insight more and more to my own songs. With the help of my bandmates, I am honing that organic process of ferrying a song from words on paper, to chord progressions with a hint of a lyrical phrase, to full on instrumental arrangements with the Shiners that draw out these musical themes. You’ll hear it on new tunes like “Your Touch is Deep” and “A Story’s End.”
I couldn’t stop smiling Friday night (when I wasn’t crying), watching Richard Thompson go through his set of old and new. So i’m left on this sunny spring Sunday to ponder why Richard Thompson still touches me so deeply as a songwriter, musician and performer. Witty, quippy, unique and crazy-talented guitarist – you can recognize a Thompson solo a mile away – and lyrics that are bitting, painful, honest without pandering, delivered in his sucker-punch way. A very British but universal voice – still strong these many years later. Check out his recent performance of “Salford Sunday” live in studio with his amazing trio. Enjoy!
And don’t forget to come out to the gig at The Cameron on April 5th, where you can hear my own “funk folk” ensemble perform many original tunes, including “Sunday Morning in New York City” – our own sunday song about a place, a person, a feeling and moment in time.
Placido domingo, wherever you are.