Dec/Jan Answers, Part V
3/2/2009 (updated 7/4/2012)

I'm sure that many fans would agree (if not you!) that the song "Solitary Life" ridicules the man whose purpose is entirely within the context of his individual existence. How then, did the BBC decide to entitle its documentary about you "The Solitary Life," while your life includes a now rather large family that shares activities, friends in several countries, charitable contributions, and much we fans don't know about?

I am a social creature up to a point, but as Yeats said of poetry, it is a solitary and sedentary business.

How did you come upon the rather unusual chord progression that makes up "God Loves A Drunk." Song's title ...many fans are unlikely to know that it has been written of Sufi masters that they have, at times, dressed in rags, referred to rapture as being "drunk," and to each other as "Kings." Regards, Bruce Young - Santa Cruz, CA

The chord sequence came from a desire to have a key change between verse and chorus - not very 'folky', but it seems to work for the mood. Much spiritual Arabic poetry deals in tavern imagery, as an allegory for the knowledge of God. I would say God Loves A Drunk is not of that school, but is a song about the need to drink being close to the need to connect with The Great Spirit, and get past the physical world.

Sorry I will not be able to catch your UK tour, but as you will be in Scotland during Homecoming year, I would be interested to hear your thoughts on oor Bard. Do you have a favourite song, have you ever included any song of his in your live work and have you ever considered any for inclusion in your 1000 years live shows. Mick Kerr - Dumfries

I had the pleasure of playing at the Theatre Royal in Dumfries back in the 70s, where the Bard delivered his famous Prologue, so I've trod the same boards, sat in his chair at Burns House (aged about 7 - they don't let you do that any more) and read his poetry from a fairly young age. My father was a great lover of The Bard, and rarely missed a Burns Supper. One of the great British songwriters, no question. My favourite song is probably Ae Fond Kiss. We missed our chance to play a Burns song on the last 1,000 Years tour of the UK - just lack of preparedness, I'm afraid.

Richard, saw you at the Barbican (15 Jan), just loved it, Judith Owen and Debra Dobkin were fantastic. My question is about the thematic images that flashed up on the giant video screen. Do you leave the 'arty' bit to someone else or do you have some/total input? The photo of the boy miners shown during the 'Blackleg Miners', such a simply taken photo but haunting nevertheless. Had the same effect on my sister. Alicia from Marlow

Our lighting/projection tech, Edmund Deraedt, put together the slides. I told Edmund what I thought was needed for each song, and he did the research, and put it all together. The general reaction to the images has been very positive.

**Footnote: Pam Winters says, "...the photo was from Lewis Wickes Hine's photos of child laborers at coal and zinc mines.

They're "breaker boys" from Pittston, Pennsylvania, 1911."**

I saw "1000 years of popular music" on 15 January 2009. It was fantastic! I really hope you release this tour on CD/DVD too.

Could be.

Have you ever considered recording with Linda again?


I was at the Thompson Xmas show. It was great fun. I liked "Wrong Presents". A possible download/release?

Not yet.

And I thought your grandson Zak rocked!


Even though I'm really into country music, I didn't recognize the country song in the recent "1000 years...". What song was it? Regards, Linus in Sweden.

On the first part of the tour, we did 'All Right, I'll Sign The Papers', originally by Ray Price. Then we did 'I Heard That Lonesome Whistle Blow' by Hank Williams.

I would like to know what your first impression of America was and what made your decision to move here? Thanks very much. Sincerely, George

Smells and tastes. My first landfall in the US, in 1969, was at LAX, with Sandy and Simon Nicol. We stepped off the plane to meet that faint LA aroma of aviation fuel, traffic exhaust, chlorine and ocean. While waiting for our bags, Simon said, "Look, a drinks stand! Good grief, grape juice! How exotic!" So we bought a couple of grape juices (Welch's) - grape juice unknown in the UK at this time - and they tasted disgusting, and nothing like grapes. Almost the first day we were in the US, we wound up at a party at Phil Och's house, with Judy Henske and Jerry Yester, most of the Association, and gorgeous women in every corner, and I thought every day in America was going to be like this. Perhaps as a delayed reaction to this very positive first impression (except for the grape juice), I married an Angelino in the 80s, and we commuted for a long time between the UK and US, but now live mostly in the US, because that is where I work the most.