Q&A September 2011, Part I
10/6/2011 (updated 10/6/2011)

I attended the 8/31 concert in Portland, Maine - an incredible performance and a wonderful set list.  I heard what seems to be a new song. A fragment of the lyrics:  "northern winds will cut you, northern girls will gut you"... The song's title?  Is it planned for a new record or has it already been recorded? Many thanks.  Wayne Beach

It's a new song, I don't have a title or a recording plan for it yet.

I would be interested to hear RT's comments on Dorian Lynskey's book, "33 Revolutions Per Minute," a history of selected protest songs. Some of the English bands are utterly unknown to me, but RT is likely familiar with them. I found the book thought-provoking; does RT have an opinion about the accuracy of DL's commentary? Richard Flasher

Sorry, haven't read it - sounds interesting.

As a longtime huge fan of both RT and Loudon Wainwright III, I of course was thrilled by their collaboration on both "Fame and Wealth" and "More Love Songs." I think the latter is LWIII's best work and has the best sound of any of his records, I'm sure greatly aided by RT's input both on the guitar and as the man behind the boards. One observation: There is a line in "Unhappy Anniversary" (great silver band arrangement!) - "I tell my mind to forget you, by my heart disobeys" - where Loudon employs very RT-like phrasing. Was that a conscious nod to the producer? It sounded like Loudon was trading his "New Dylan" stripes for "New RT" ones. Just wondering... All the best, Irwin Cohen

He was probably taking the piss out of me, and I failed to notice… or you're being a tad over-sensitive.

A: How's the Cabaret of Souls recording going?

Recording is finished, we are mixing now - probably won't make it for Christmas release.

B: Any chance of a Nicol/Thompson collaboration on the "RT Busman's Holiday" list? Thanks, Mike in Lompoc CA

What a nice thought…you never know.

Many thanks for the Westhampton show - the best I've ever seen - by anybody - by far!  We're eagerly awaiting your return to Town Hall next month. My question is since you're always up for trying something new, how about an album of collaborations with Teddy?  "Persuasion" can't be a proverbial one hit wonder. Your range, in both the instrumental and vocal senses is so vast that you could surely write / compose a set of songs that would highlight both Thompson men's gifts. Might be fun.

Still joyfully replaying the loop of Sunday's show in my head. Karen Smith, NYC

We are both busily focused on other things, so it may not happen soon. There may be an interesting project down the road, however, which I cannot yet discuss.

Suspending belief for a moment, if you were able to interview three musicians of any era, who would be on the list and what two or three questions would you most like answered?

Best wishes, Bruce Young, Andi, Sara & Dov (the 9 yr old twins who enjoy singing many of your songs; Dov is believable on "I'll Never Give It Up") -
Santa Cruz, CA


"So, Wolfie, why the piano?"

Louis Armstrong:

"So, Louis, why the trumpet?"

Django Reinhardt:

"So, Django, why the guitar?" etc.

I enjoy yelling, and do it occasionally at the many concerts of yours that I have had the privilege of attending. But never during a quiet part. Always during the audience applause.

My question: if I were to yell out at a quiet part, TWO TWO EIGHT at the top of my lungs, would it be possible that you might entertain playing a version of the corresponding Child Ballad?  This is purely a hypothetical question, as I find those who yell as you graciously share your talent and love for music with an audience to be, well, in my part of the world we call them jerks.

With thanks in advance for any response you might offer, and thanks in arrears for the many times you've given more than I ever could have requested in a live show. Yours sincerely, Cathy Von Elm who saw you recently in Westhampton (awesome!), and will see you again soon in Glenside, PA (hoorah!)

First of all, congratulations on the yelling - way back in human history we all used to yell, and I fear it's falling into disuse these days. Now, would I know, should you yell out the hypothetical number 228, that you were referring to Child, and not to some other publication with numbered entries (or indeed, anything with numbers - I once had a girlfriend who would shout out her favourite London bus routes during congress)? We would have to come to some agreement beforehand. On the off chance that you ever turn up at another concert, I shall learn all 800-odd Child Ballads and their numbers, and all you have to do is yell out (you're fond of yelling, I believe?) the signal "Child", and I shall be prepared, and won't take your remark as a comment on the immaturity of my lyrics.

...just wondering if you can help.  At the concert here in Toronto, last night, Mr. Thompson did a song that I cannot place. It is driving me crazy. It was an excellent song, faster tempo, that had the words 'sweet thing' near the top of it. I hope you can help. much thanks, RC

Tell him to re-issue 'First Light' already! Sheesh.

So that catchy chorus didn't sink in, eh? The song is called 'Good Things Happen To Bad People', as yet unrecorded.