Answers to Jan/Feb Questions, Part II
3/8/2010 (updated 3/8/2010)

You've got a lot of kids.  Any potty training tips? Donna Upton, Springfield, NJ

Girls seem to get it right away. Boys are happy to wander around in a nappy full of poo for days. Bribery works. I was still having accidents till I was about 15, so I could be the wrong person to ask.

PS Thanks for recommending the Pullman's His Dark Materials series a while back.  Amazing books.  Now should I see the film, or not?

No!! The film is ghastly. Horrible mangling of the beginning to save time, bad casting.

Many years ago, at a post show gathering, I asked you why you never played "When I Get to the Border" live.  I believe you said that you were not able to come up with a good arrangement.  (I'm assuming you were referring to a solo version).  A few months ago, I finally got to hear you do it live, when you played my request at the first Winery all-request show.  You mentioned then that the song was hard to play but you would do your best.  Now, I don't play guitar, but the song doesn't seem all that difficult to my layman's ears.  Just what makes "Border" so hard to play? George Reed

I’ve never spent time to come up with a solo acoustic version of the song, that is interesting for me to play. The chords are easy, but as a solo piece it lacks some of the colouration of the record that I can’t easily render.

Just wondering if RT will appear at any Festivals this year - Mt. Jam in Hunter,NY would be great.  Jay Hammond

Strawberry, in Yosemite, is the only one on the books so far, but there will be more – please check the TOUR DATES section on Beesweb.

I would like to ask Richard which method he uses to teach the members of his band how to play newly-written songs.

For example, does he:  [a]  Write out the song in musical notation? [b]  Play the song through a few times to let them develop/improvise their own parts? Or, [c]  Supply them with a basic recorded demo version to work from? Many thanks, Bob Seymour.

a) Yes. Either a chord chart or notation, depending on the part. For the recent tour, I sent demos and charts to the band 2 weeks before rehearsal. The dance tunes at the end of ‘Demons In Her Dancing Shoes” and “Sidney Wells’ were in musical notation. For Cabaret Of Souls, the same process, but more notation.

b) If we’re going cold into the studio with unfamiliar songs, then I play through a couple of times. Some players will do their own charts.

c) See above.

This is my third email seeking comment on an iconic Canadian musician (previously Cohen & Lightfoot).  This time it’s a sad occasion, namely the passing of Kate McGarrigle.  I believe you & your family have performed with members of the McGarrigle/Wainwright clan (besides the recent tour with Loudon).  Any thoughts on the McGarrigle Sisters’ legacy?  Were you familiar with their music from away back? (Apologies for putting you in the same age bracket as Gordon Lightfoot in my previous month’s post.  But, I believe you and Kate were in the same age range.) Thanks. Brian Hayes, Ottawa ON

So sad to lose a wonderful musician like Kate. The McGarrigles were so distinctive and original, and Kate was a lovely human being.

Re a recent inquiry about the song, 'Kidzz' (and many others?); any chance of a future album's theme being 'Richard Thompson's bottom drawer'(like Rod Patterson's Burns CD years ago).Or no theme at all-just an airing of good(but obscure) songs that sound good together and people keep asking for? Max Cuthbert, Portland OR

Well, the dregs tend to be the dregs…but a couple of my childrens’ songs  - not Kidzz but others - will appear on a school fundraiser in the near future – watch Catch Of The Day for news.

Given Richard’s love of the summer game I wonder why there are no cricket related songs in his back catalogue (nor even any references to the game as far as I can recall).  No last man in caught on a sticky wicket or playing a straight bat, nobody bowling a maiden over or hit for six.  Quite frankly, I’m stumped. I love Roy Harper’s ‘When an Old Cricketer Leave The Crease’ but I suspect that Richard could do even better. Thanks, Peter Driver

Inspiration has eluded me, sorry. Must try harder.

Re: Poor Ditching Boy. What can you tell me about the story.  It's a spectacular song. Andy

No story.