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'Galway,' a play and an email led Richard Thompson to town
1/18/2013 (updated 1/18/2013)

A few years ago, writer, businessman and bon vivant Michael Sheridan went to an Irish Festival in town to hear the group Henri's Notions. When the band played Richard Thompson's "From Galway to Graceland," about a woman who abandons her home in Ireland to spend her days by Elvis Presley's grave in Memphis, Sheridan's ears perked up.

What a song, what a story," Sheridan said. "I like a good story in a song." Sheridan went home and wrote a one-act play based on the song and submitted it to the New Horizons: Original Works theater festival at Florida State. It was quickly accepted and set to stage in April 2012. At the last minute, Sheridan suddenly realized he did not have permission to use Thompson's song in his play.

I figured I would get an email back from some underling or some manager or a lawyer, but I got an email from Richard Thompson himself," Sheridan said. "We struck up a correspondence."

Thompson gave the OK to use the song and requested a DVD copy of the live play. As the email conversation continued, Sheridan finally invited Thompson to come play at the Seven Days of Opening Nights arts festival.

Again, Thompson, who is one of the best guitar players on the planet as well as one of the wittiest songwriters alive, said, yes. "Mike wrote a play based on a song of mine, which was then staged, and now, due to the enormous groundswell of goodwill generated, or for other reasons, I'm coming to Tallahassee, about 47 years after I bought the record ("Tallahassee Lassie") by Freddy Cannon," Thompson, 63, said in an email...


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"Galway," a play and an email led Richard Thompson to town

Written by Mark Hinson
Democrat senior writer, Tallahassee.com