EMAIL THE BEEKEEPER
RT's favourite songs of the past 1,000 years
9/29/2003 (updated 9/29/2003)

Tuesday September 16, 2003
The Guardian
by Richard Thompson

"I have to admit, I am really only qualified to perform about 10% of the material in the show. But I can't think of anyone who is qualified to do the whole thing, and there is some comfort in that. I mean, have you heard Pavarotti sing Love Is Like a Butterfly or Those Were the Days? Or Michael Bolton sing Nessun Dorma?"

..."Thinking about all these songs has led me to wonder: has anything changed in 1,000 years? Probably not. The themes seem fairly consistent throughout - boy meets girl, girl meets boy, boy loses girl, girl loses boy, boy repines, girl repines, boy dies, girl dies. At the early end of things, what survives of the secular is mostly moralising:

The joy of the world does not last
It fritters away soon enough
The longer a man knows pleasure,
The less satisfaction he finds in it."

..."I had assumed that everyone's brain was fried by years of MTV and news soundbites, and that attention spans were slightly below that of the common goldfish."

Richard Thompson's A Thousand Years of Popular Music is at Sadlers Wells, London EC1, tomorrow and Thursday. Box office: 020-7863 8000.