Q&A January 2011, Part I
2/4/2011 (updated 2/4/2011)

How was your conversion to Islam treated by the music press? Harry Doherty's Melody Maker interview with you in November 1975 embodies a mocking tone ('when he [Richard] tells you that he reads prayers five times a day every day, that all Muslims wipe their behinds with their left hand, he is being totally honest'). Three years later, in another interview with Melody Maker, you said that "it's upsetting to be ridiculed but it doesn't matter. If you believe in anything people will ridicule you." Was there a lot of ridicule? Why? A Peerbux, London

I was thinking it was still the 60s, and it was OK to be a musician and have a spiritual path. The Beatles, Donovan et al going off to visit the Maharishi was reported with interest but not really mocked at the time - the Beatles themselves, and their alter egos the Rutles, mocked it later. I also failed to notice the passing of the generations, and a new guard of journalists had taken over, very happy to take the piss out of what they saw as old hippies, or worse, old folkies. So it was my own fault for opening myself up to some very cynical reporters. Since then I talk music to the music press, and don't get into details about anything else. There was an interview with NME around the same time, where they set out with the intention of making me look as ridiculous as possible, right down to printing verbatim my speech defects ( I have a stammer).

Any thoughts on the passing of Gerry Rafferty? I know you had a mixed experience with him in the "Shoot Out The Lights" years. Thanks, Chris

I loved some of those Rafferty records, and Stealers Wheel records. He had a great pop voice and sensibility. Our dealings around the album we made together were quite difficult, for reasons I don't have to go into here. I would rather reflect on the positives, and we lost a great artist when Gerry died.

Hello Richard... or should I say Sir Richard, since you have been named an OBE? Thanks, Chris

No you shouldn't. Note to non-British readers - MBE, OBE, CBE, are honours given by The Queen that mean you can, if you wish, but don't have to, stick those letters after your name. KBE means you are a knight, and get called 'sir' (sometimes - you don't hear Sir Elton all the time).

A sound nerd question for Richard...
I was wondering how much of his guitar does he have in his monitors? I guess specifically, whether or not he hears mostly his amp behind him, or from his monitor?  Have you ever had the desire to try in-ear monitors? Thanks! Adam Russell

I usually have none in my monitor, just voice. At a festival, I might have some, and in an echoing room, I might add some kick and snare from the drums. Acoustic guitar, obviously I'd have as much as the voice.

I'm currently reading Far From the Madding Crowd.  Is "Bathsheba Smiles" a reference to Miss Everdene? Donna Upton - Springfield, NJ

No, I was thinking of someone else. But lucky you, reading that fine book.

The songbook already needs more! Any chance of the chords to Among the Gorse Among the Grey?
I can't recall now, I remember trying to watch, maybe Pete was playing it with a capo and you weren't but that could have been another song? And while you're at it Big Sun and A Brother Slips away would be groovy too! Thanks for a great gig at the Lowry on Saturday night!!! Dav Devalle

Among The Gorse is:

|| G / / / | D / / / | Am / / / | C / / / | G / / / | D / / / | Am / / / | C / / / |

| G / / / | C / / / | Bm / / / | D / / / | Am / / / | C / D / | Em / / /  ||

I don't know if there has been any discussion about the songbooks and the variations. For example Heart needs a Home, see The tab is not the same... And there are several others, not gone through them all!

Another one is Take Care the Road you Choose. Richard answered this as being in normal tuning 7/1/2009: yet the songbook has it has capo'd 2nd drop D.

I mentioned similar to Maartin about the tab for After Halloween (Sandy did it in open G) and also Who Knows Where The Time Goes and Richard's answer, Maartin didn't get back to me... I'll stop there. Dav Devalle

The answer is that for some songs, the way they are played changes, and it's hard to say what is definitive. 'Take Care The Road You Choose' I play on electric in E, standard tuning, and on acoustic in D, capo 2, drop D. 'Heart Needs A Home' has been through several keys and tunings, and as I write, I'm about to perform it with my daughter at the Festival Hall, and I won't know what key or tuning it's in until we run it through before the show. I'm sure the same is true of Sandy's song. I'm sure this is frustrating if you're trying to learn it, but if you learn the written version, you should then be able to transpose it to suit your own voice or guitar style.