Fan Questions and Answers I
10/9/2003 (updated 1/19/2004)

Q: The Sundance Channel recently aired a thoughtful series on various elements of roots music: the spiritual aspect, the creative/lyrical aspect, etc. Have you ever been asked to contribute to a television or film series like this one? If not, would you be interested in doing so? And what question would you most like to see addressed by a program of this sort--that is, about popular and/or folk music?

RT: I like to watch good programmes about music, but I don't think about contributing unless asked! I find reflecting or theorising about music is a good exercise every 3 months or so, but the rest of the time I'd rather just get on with it. There is a danger of over-curating music - when something is 70 years old there is a case for that, but when rock and roll ends up in a museum, it's really saying that it's dead, and although most of it surely is, I still cling to the notion that the bit I do has occasional signs of life.

Q: re Andy Statman, who appeared in the program and was a topic of conversation here: Do you expect to work with him (again), and will we ever see a release of music the two of you have made together?

RT: The only music I've made with Andy was on his solo album, and I think all the cuts were released. He is a fantastic musician, and I wouldn't say no to anything in the future.

Q: I remember in the early days of the Beatles, I guess it would have been 1963 or 1964, an interviewer asked Paul McCartney how long he thought his new found fame would last, and what did he see himself doing when he reached the ripe old age of 30. As I remember his reply (I'm paraphrasing) it was something along the lines of "Well obviously I won't be doing this, but maybe John & I could make a living as songwriters". Mr. McCartney is still packing them in (albeit with a failing voice) at 60+. The Stones are still rolling... Some of Richard's folk contemporaries I guess could go on indefinitely (Martin Carthy springs to mind), as their music does not necessarily rely on having a good singing voice, but realistically, how long does Richard think that he will be able to keep doing what he is doing, and does he think that he will know when it is time to stop?

RT: If it ever got boring I'd stop. And physically I'd have to be working reasonably well...I figure if I can hang on till I'm 65, then I can be a 'legend', and hobble on any old how, and triple my fee. Segovia never retired, Horowitz never retired, B.B. King's still wailing...if God lets me, then I'm inclined to keep going - unless you insist that I stop.

Q: I'd be interested to know how things are going with the new record company and the website w/internet-only cds? Is this new approach working out well or him?

RT: We're having fun with the new label, Cooking Vinyl/SpinArt, who have done an excellent job so far. Internet/Live releases are also doing well, and we'll attempt to keep feeding you all what you would like to hear. This is a very depressed CD market, but we are affected less than most.

Q: As a huge live music fan and trader of "free and legal" bootlegs, I'd like for Richard to explain his stance against recording of his live shows. Is he worried about loss of revenue or lack of control of the final product? or both?

RT: I'll say it again - I can't distinguish between harmless tape-swappers and exploiters of my copyrights and income, so I have to err on the side of prohibitive. Also, I'd like to think that if I did a crap show, I could erase the record of it and move on. I suppose I still cling to the idea that I can control my musical output and copyrights, however antediluvian that may seem.

Q: If you get the chance, please ask RT if the rumoured, tentative plans, for some kind of collaboration with Iain Matthews are likely to come to fruition.

RT: Iain and I have discussed the project, we have a theme (top secret), and as soon as we have mutual free time, we shall get in there and blast away.

Q: As of now, when does he think that he'll next tour UK & Europe, with or without band?

RT: Next period considered is May 2004, probably UK and solo - after that the summer maybe.

Q: Were there any of Warren Zevon's songs that Richard would consider performing in public or recording?

RT: Warren was a great artist, but our styles are a bit divergent. I have happily performed "Werewolves of London" with Mr. Z a few years back.

Q: In recent years, Clive Gregson has taken part in concerts involving three or four singer/songwriters 'in the round'. Would you ever consider doing something like this? If so, what other players would you consider having along?

RT: This is a nice concept, that has always gone down well at folk festivals it brings in many different audiences, who may discover other artists that they would not normally be exposed to. I did one in NYC at the Bottom Line, with Shawn Colvin, Dave Alvin and Barrett Strong, and that was top that? Joni Mitchell, Leonard Cohen and Bob Dylan, and I'll make the tea...

Q: Where would you think Hans Blix' thoughts are wonderin' at this point since the US-UK-AUS-PL police action in the Baghdad area hasn't brought up any relevant mass destruction weapons, not even a sign of Pete Zorn's bass flute as it seems?

RT: If you connected about 500 bass flutes end-to-end, it would create a "Super Flute" capable of delivering immensely low frequencies over vast distances, and could destabilise civilisation. Well, that's as plausible as anything else.