Q&A: Jun/Jul/Aug, Part V
9/1/2010 (updated 1/3/2011)

I know you've been too busy to watch F1 but how do you feel knowing that Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button are currently one-two in the World Driver's Championship standings (as of June 27), as well as Team McLaren leading the Constructor's title? Factoring out Vettel, Webber and Alonso for a moment, which of these two British F1 aces do you feel stands a better chance of repeating?

I'll go for Lewis by a nose. Should be a very exciting season.

In your opinion, did Schumacher make a mistake by returning for his "F1 Nostalgia Tour" with Mercedes GP? (He has been doing poorly, just in case you haven't caught up with the 2010 season.)

Big mistake. It's so hard to come back in that way. I doubt he'll do another season.

As a self-proclaimed "tea snob", how do you satisfy your tea jones if you have sworn off caffeinated beverages? (Somehow, drinking decaffeinated tea seems akin to kissing one's sister.)

I drink bush tea, as preferred by Mma Ramotswe. Very refreshing. I take it with milk. And mint tea after dinner.

Of all the people interviewed about you for the Solitary Life documentary, I am curious as to your connection with Billy Connolly, especially given his obvious appreciation for your seminal role in creating folk-rock ("he's the one who kicked folk music's ass").

I've known Billy since folk club days, when he and Gerry Rafferty were the Humblebums. One of the most extraordinary characters on the planet. I always feel he gets more out of life than anybody else.

Aside from playing, do you have any regimen to keep your hands and fingers limber and tendonitis-free? Cheers, Douglas Alan Feinstein

Lots of stretches, finger and wrist exercises with the 5 - 10 lb free weights, and some ice after a show if anything feels tender.

I have to assume you are familiar with Malian and Touareg music... I have been really enjoying the band Tinariwen lately and can hear some close (and probably very coincidental) similarities in both phrasings and tonality to some of your own electric guitar chops (even as far back as the solos on tracks like Tam Lin). It's sad that guitarists Ibrahim Ag Alhabib and Ali Farka Tour - are still practically unknown in the West outside of very small circles. Just curious if you are a fan of north western African music and if you have ever employed their techniques and tunings (i.e. the Malian: GADBGE)?

Thanks for your time and thanks always for the gift of your music. Best, William

I was in North Africa a lot in the 70s, mostly Morroco, Algeria, Mauritania, Spanish Sahara, and Senegal. I heard no Malian music, and just a little Touareg music, but a lot of Andalus, which is the more classical style that originated in Moorish Spain. Andalus, I would contend, had an influence on Western music as long as the Moors were in Spain, and what became the Blues is rooted back in West Africa, so the music of the region may sound familiar, or at least not alien. I think it may have had an influence on my style, but it's hard to say.

Hullo Richard,
I just found a web site dedicated to the late, great Nick Drake which makes a curious claim; to wit: that you wrote the song "The Poor Boy Is Taken Away" in tribute to Nick.

Here's the web site:
Scroll down to Cover Versions. Your song is the third entry there.

I did a Google search and found a few speculative references which lend credence to this claim, but none was attributed to anything you've ever said or written. Any truth here? Rob Field

I should say definitely not.

Congratulations on having received the Les Paul Award. Elbows and all, heh? This clarifies your singular achievement of the melodic use of dissonance on guitar. Evidently mistaken, I approached the strings with, what the heck, my fingers. But now, I feel free to bang my head against the strings (instead of the wall), pogo on the neck (instead of the floor), and if all goes well, become the first guitar player to use steel-implanted dentures to rivet an audience. Or not.

I love the Tommy Tedesco story where he throws his guitar up in the air during a solo on a Mike Nesmith album, and it falls and smashes into a million pieces. All captured on tape.

Has an agreement been reached regarding your number of performances on the cruise? Have to come to a decision about cashing in a 15yr near gallon's worth of change. Hoping for three solos and one or two Loud and Rich shows. Have no idea if this is realistic.

I was told three performances, and a bit of sitting-in, keel-hauling workshops, etc.