EMAIL THE BEEKEEPER
Q&A: Jun/Jul/Aug, Part II
9/1/2010 (updated 1/3/2011)

I've been a fan since the mid-70s. Someone had taken me to a Fairport gig (basically Fotheringay & The Daves) at the local Big U. I bought some records and started working my way back. Listening to 'Henry' and 'Bright Lights' I was reminded of the poetry of A. E. Houseman, particularly 'Terence, This Is Stupid Stuff' with the line, "Malt does more than Milton can / to justify God's ways to Man". Any influence?

Also, how about Noel Coward's 'Why Must The Show Go On?' for the 'Thousand Years" show? Thanks, John Foley


I've always loved Houseman, and I should say he's an indirect influence. We have done London Pride in the 1,000 Years show, and I've toyed with a few others, and I'm sure we'll do something else of Coward in the future. Your suggestion duly noted.

Re: Camayo Cruise
Do you know of Buddy Miller? His story and music is relatively new to me but reminds me of yourself? Great stuff, very spiritual without being preachy, harmonies, guitar all over the place, can play anything and plays with everybody. Very modest and shy. Who will seek who out and sing country and or gospel with and isn't how this things used to work? Mechthild Jordan


I think I'll seek him out to jam on some Morris dance tunes, if he can play anything.

You said in your last Q & A than you don't do caffeine. I'd read previously that you love coffee. Is this a recent purge? Are you now just high on life? Jamie

That must be it. Life is a poor substitute for drugs, of course. More Q&A available here: www.richardthompson-music.com/questionsandanswers.asp

Having been a musician for so many years, have you suffered any damage to your ears, such as tinnitus? If so, how do you deal with it?

My hearing is not bad. I've not suffered from tinnitus. Our stage volume, even with the electric band, is not that loud - louder in the audience, I think.

I understand that you haven't drank any alcohol for a very long time. Did you have problems with alcohol, so you had to quit or was it just a decision to lead a healthier and more focused life?

I stopped drinking when I was 24. I saw a fork in the road, and one way didn't look too good. I think the choice was survival rather than health.

As I understand you don't drink, eat meat, drink coffee, smoke, take drugs. Any of these things you sometimes miss?

I do eat meat - I was vegetarian from about 1969 - 73, but some people are still reading old copies of Disc and Music Echo! I miss coffee a lot, just the taste - and the effect.

When your kids were babies, was it sometimes difficult to combine with making music and touring? Lack of sleep, getting babysitters, stuff to fix.., those sort of things. Jim

All of that stuff. If you leave them at home with the babysitter/relative, you can't be away very long, and it's exhausting to take them along, but that is the best option. You need good help, if you can afford it.

Re: So Ben Mi Ca Bon Tempo
I loved this song from when I first heard it and was pleased to be reminded of it last Saturday at Richard's "1000 Years" rerun. Having had a look at the tune and worked out the chords, I wanted to understand the words (knowing a small amount of modern Italian). I note from the website a query from Paul Agosti a few years ago in Catch of the Day, where Richard gives a translation of most of it, but there's one verse not fully translated - the one starting "Saluti e baciamani"

I researched the composer and it looks as if Richard is about a century out - Orazio Vecchi lived from 1550-1605. I also tracked down an original version of the song - (http://www2.cpdl.org/wiki/index.php/So_ben_mi_ch%27ha_bon_tempo_(Orazio_Vecchi).

This song was apparently originally a madrigal, which I usually think of as rather slow and sedate - I don't know if Richard's up tempo version is his own or in the spirit of the original. Regarding the words, it seems the first line should be "So Ben Mi Ch'ha Bon Tempo", which literally means something like "I know well him who has a good time" ("Ch'ha" being presumably an abbreviation of "Chi ha"). The full words of the extra verse are "Saluti e baciamani Son tutti indarno a fe", which I think means something like "Greetings and kisses on the hand are all in vain", though I can't work out the "fe" - doesn't seem to exist in modern Italian - possibly related to "fare", meaning "to do"?

Thought this might be of interest - also would be interested if Richard or anyone else can shed any more light on any of this. Steve Bamford


If you've seen the previous correspondence on this, then you know as much as I do. Point taken about "Ch'ha" - I believe that's correct, but it gets misspelled routinely. I had it dated at about 1590 - there was a misprint somewhere that put it a century out. Madrigals can be any tempo - they are part songs for usually 3 to 5 voices. I've had lots of correspondence about So Ben, but as yet no truly definitive translation of the lyrics. Could be the whole thing is a bunch of racy metaphors.

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