Q&A May 2012, Part I
6/5/2012 (updated 8/6/2012)

On your Facebook fan page recently there was a discussion about your performing songs live that haven't been released yet. I think fans love to hear songs like this. Do you consider these "works in progress," or are they "finished" once they're performed?  (I've put "finished" in quotation marks because I know that songs take on a life of their own once you start performing them. In a sense are they ever really finished? ") Have you  significantly reworked or dropped a song after performing it live and realizing that something didn't work?  Also, someone on fb commented that they heard you only release about twenty-five percent of the songs that you write and that most never get performed publicly. Could you confirm this. Also, do you ever go back to the dropped  songs and rework them into something you want to release, or are dropped songs gone forever? Specifics about songs would be greatly appreciated. Thank you for the beautiful music. David Zipkowitz

I like to perform about half of new songs prior to recording, and keep some surprises for the studio. Some songs, especially band material, benefit from a bit of playing in. They would be as finished as possible. I have had many promising songs debut on stage and fall totally flat - usually a lack of communication somewhere. When you perform a song on stage for the first time, you really hear it through the ears of the audience, and it can happen that on the first verse you realize it doesn't work, and you can scrap it or take it home and rework it. I might dump 50% of songs these days, and half of those would be unfinished. I'm happy to cannibalise parts - tunes, verses, bridges, riffs - to go into new songs. It's really hard to give examples - sorry.

Hi beekeeper, Thanks for all you do. I'm just curious, where did Richard read the transcripts he used for the interview with ghosts songs? They are so haunting, and similar to what I've heard of ghosts communications. Such moving intense work. Thanks again, Celia

I originally found the thread online. I then contacted the participants to get more information, on the condition that I kept the source anonymous - again, sorry.

Hello Richard. I recently saw the Austin City Limits DVD and was very impressed how you dealt with the broken E string on Shoot out the Lights. Was this a bum clenching moment for you or a Miles Davis moment ie an opportunity to try something new? I got me wondering how you would have managed if the b string had broken. Has this ever happened to you? And will you be coming back down under any time soon. Terry Beard - Adelaide

Django apparently never missed a beat when he broke a string, and I've always tried to live up to that. I have broken every possible string, and it's less of a problem on electric. On acoustic, I do have to stop and change it if it's a lower string, because the racket is fearful.

What about adding a setlist section  to the site? It would be a great addition for those who are not into discussion lists and are not satisfied with what they can find on I hope that sounds good to you. All the best. Alfredo Marziano

Reading my mind again...we do plan to put setlists up on FB after every show.

Re: uk tours
Hiya Richard-love the new Dvd i think the sound is awesome. Any idea when we can expect a UK electric band tour-i of course love all your stuff but electric tours are my favourite. Tim Wilson

Most likely February with the Trio in the UK and Europe - not nailed down yet, please check back a little later.

Hi again Richard, first of all, I'm looking forward to the upcoming show in Bath (July). Should sound great as the sound at The Forum Is top notch.

I recently watched  again your BBC documentary from a few years ago, "A Solitary Life". In it you said that you don't particularly like listening to you singing your own songs - you should by the way, it's great. What about listening to others covering your songs and there are many, excellent covers. My own personal favourite is Bonnie Raitt's beautiful version of "Dimming of the Day". Do you have any favourites?

I've answered this too many times in previous Q&As, but thanks for your choices - I agree about Bonnie.

Finally has your version of "Adieu Adieu" been released officially anywhere?  If not do you have any plans to release it?  Perhaps you could persuade the nice people at iTunes to do "A Session with Richard Thompson" and include the song as part of the recording.  Your version of the song is great. All the best, Tony

This is one of my absolute favourite songs, but I don't sing it very often - it was on the Folk Britannia show on BBC, where they very specifically asked for that song, or I might not have had the nerve to do it. I learned it originally from Cyril Tawney, but my version isn't that different from the wonderful recording by the Watersons, in whose shadow I am happy to trudge along.