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

Having just seen the trailer for the latest series of the X Factor; I remembered seeing a series a few years ago (don't judge me!) and there was a girl that got through the audition singing Dimming of the Day. Simon Cowell commented that it was a great song choice and the girl replied that it was by Bonnie Raitt. I know that it's not good to get an ego over these things but I couldn't help but think if I had wrote the song I would be thinking "Oi I wrote that song - mention me!". Do you ever get think along those lines or are you above all of that?

By the way, I live in Dorking by Boxhill and the motorbikes are a bloody nuisance - no sympathy for James at all. Many thanks, Jamie

I'm not too bothered. Pretty excited about being associated with the X Factor, though.

Re: Faith
Dear Richard,
Loved your music forever! Well...35 years or so, anyway. Trouble is, I'm completely perplexed why you should have felt the need to convert to Islam. Why, indeed, convert to anything? If your convictions are great and noble, is it not enough to feel and communicate those without resorting to a label? Love and peace, John Goodband

I'm with you in distrusting and disliking organized religions. Although I feel I am a "good" person, I need more knowledge about the nature of the universe, and the nature of man and the "Great Spirit". I can't find this on my own without falling into speculative traps, and without deceiving myself that I know something, that may turn out to be vain and illusory. It seems to me that the way the world works is not through God writing big signs in the sky saying, Be Good To One Another! Rather it seems to work through creation, and knowledge seems to come with prophets/messengers, whose message is pure in the beginning, but becomes corrupted through the self-interest of humans. In Islam it is possible to still see the source. In Sufism it is possible to find the knowledge. I have done no conversion. I already was what I am.

Re: Lowden RTF35c query from Lowden player
Hello, I've been playing a Lowden 025c since 1998. I live in Ireland. Went up to the Lowden factory back then to get it. I've been trying out the Lowden RTF35c in a guitar shop. Considering selling my other Lowden to help pay for it. On your gear page, back a few years ago, you said your new Lowden was still 'opening up'. With the passage of time - how long did it take for the special sweetness to come through? I play guitar a lot. But I'm 60 years old. So if I get the new Lowden - this is it - till the end!

If time allows, have a look at my website: and listen to one of the songs there - 'Maya'. It may help you be of help to me. Carry on your good work. Peace, Kalichi

A good guitar is a good guitar, right at the beginning. It will open up more in days, as you play it. In a year it will sound fuller, in ten years more so. In a hundred years, it may revert to a piece of crap, or sound sensational. But you have to play it to get those molecules vibrating.

Did the track sequence of Dream Attic remain unchanged throughout the recording concerts? (I saw Eugene and Arcata, and I think the sequence was the same at those shows.) I'm particularly interested in whether you envisioned "Among the Gorse..." and "Haul Me Up" as two parts of a whole; to my ear, the first flowed beautifully into the second, the last-gasp energy of the second a perfect response to the melancholy beauty of the first.

It remained unchanged. "Gorse" and "Haul" were always intended to sit next to each other, one being innocence into experience, the other experience longing for innocence.

Also, will the second set of those shows, a sort of "greatest non-hits" set, be released on CD? It was one of the best band shows I've ever heard, up there with the one on More Guitar. Still glowing from Lyons, Copper, and Schwenksville, Pam

I hope they will be released. At one point, there was a thought that that would be the bonus disc to go with Dream Attic, but the demos were preferred.

Would Mr. Thompson consider recording the Sandy Denny classic "Who Knows Where the Time Goes"? His voice is the only voice I can imagine that could do this great song justice and it would be a wonderful remembrance of their friendship. Mike Cook

I do not feel that I can do justice to the song on record. Sandy casts a long shadow in my life.

One of these has come up on the RT list, and I thought I'd take the plunge....thanks.
Q. It seems that everyone assumes "Here Comes Geordie" was inspired by Sting. Confirm or deny as you will...either way, what, exactly, do you have against this Geordie fellow? Has Sting--or, all right, "the real Geordie"--really done anything deserving of such knifework? It sounds like your indignation goes beyond aesthetic grounds. How does the argument made here compare with the case against Kenny G in "I Agree With Pat Metheny"?

I can see why people think this is about Sting, but it is mere coincidence. I wrote the song about another person, who mortally insulted a good friend of mine, and deserves to be publicly flogged. So let's end all this Sting speculation.

Q. Paul Stelter of the Washington Post's daily Express asserts that "Sidney Wells" might have been more appropriately treated with a "spare acoustic treatment." Thoughts on your choice to plug in here? Also, how does this song relate, if at all, to "Auldie Riggs" in Cabaret of Souls? In what order did you write the two songs?

There is a spare acoustic version on the Demo record, which may be more to Mr. Stelter's taste. I think the band version is the right treatment, that fits the savagery of the theme.

Q. As that magnificent solo on "If Love Whispers Your Name" drifts back to earth, we suddenly hear applause and cheers; I found this an intensely moving moment, as if the audience were another instrument. How were decisions made about how much audience sound to include on the album? Thanks, as always...Pam

We decided to go for a fairly close-miked sound, so that it falls between a studio and a live sound. It just seemed to work better overall. Because it's less ambient, you can forget that it's live, and the audience applause comes as a shock.