Q&A September 2011, Part III
10/5/2011 (updated 10/6/2011)

9. Being a close friend of Harry Shearer, have you ever met his This Is Spinal Tap co-conspirators, Christopher Guest or Michael McKean?  Since Harry plays a key role in Cabaret of Souls, the thought of you and he writing something involving music and satire or dark comedy is a tantalizing notion.

I have met Chris and Michael, and splendid fellows they are too. Very musical. Harry has written a musical about J Edgar Hoover, which I have yet to hear, so he is surely no stranger to dark musical comedy.

10. I recently watched some excellent old videos of Anne Briggs on YouTube, performing with Bert Jansch and solo. Did you ever cross paths with her back in the day?

I met her twice, and she was unconscious both times.

11. A headline in the September 19 edition of the New York Times, stated: "Britain's soccer team at the Olympics may be composed largely, or even entirely, of English players, as Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have refused to sanction the idea of a national team." Where do you weigh in on this controversial matter?

Many thanks, Richard, for graciously answering my questions! Cheers, Douglas Alan Feinstein

No one in Britain really gives a toss about football at the Olympics, and I find it hard to get excited about. I understand track and field being impossible to police and regulate on an amateur basis, therefore we may as well accept that they're all pro. For other sports, I can't see the point of giving gold medals to pro basketball players, baseball players, soccer players, etc. These sports should not be in the Olympics.

I've been listening to a lot of Nick Lowe lately. I think he's one of the great songwriters, as are you. Have you ever worked with him or considered collaborating? In my humble opinion, the idea has a lot of potential for the creation of some great tunes. Thanks, Chris

I like Nick's recent songs a lot, and I'm glad to see others are taking notice and singing them. We've met a little over the years, most recently on Elvis Costello's TV show.

I'm a big fan of yours and of Fairport Convention. Two questions, if you don't mind. I've always wondered - back when you recorded Liege and Lief and Full House with Fairport, how did the band arrange those traditional songs? You probably practiced and worked things out together, but from what sources did you learn the melodies, words, and the music itself? From other people? Other recordings? From written material? Jason Yanok

We tried to fit appropriate arrangements around the songs, and come up with good combinations of dance tunes. The material came from several sources, mostly from Ashley, Swarb and Sandy. When we needed a better verse or version of something, we would get on the phone to Bert Lloyd, Cyril Tawney, or any number of stalwarts from the folkscene. We also had a pile of reference books.

What are your thoughts these days on those early Fairport albums with so much experience behind you? Thanks so much. I'll see you in October on the road!

I think they stand up very well, but I could be prejudiced. John Wood is a great engineer, and they sound quite timeless to me.