Q&A September 2013, Part I
11/23/2013 (updated 11/24/2013)

Richard, your 'most requested' song is Vincent Black Lightning 1952. I once played that to a Vincent owner, who observed that the slightly stuttering coda sounds very much like a Vincent engine being shut down. I recently listened to Mike Seeger's album 'Southern Banjo Sounds' and on the traditional 'Little Birdy' he plays a very mellow, wooden-hooped banjo that sounds quite guitar-like. The 'signature' riff in Little Birdy is a descending arpeggio, uncannily similar to yours in VBL. Did you consciously 'sample' this in the finest traditions of the folk process, or might it have been locked away in your subconscious (a bit like George Harrison and 'My Sweet Lord' / 'He's so fine')?

I have also wondered if the phrase 'meet on the ledge' was born subconsciously out of your hearing 'we'll meet on edges...' ('My back pages') but, hey!, if borrowing is good for The Mighty Bob, then it is good for us all, copyright trolls permitting. Best wishes. Alan Kind

A lot of the guitar part on 'Vincent' is supposed to be onomatopoeic - traffic noises, engine noises, etc. This can't be too successful, because you're the first person to notice! I've never heard Mike Seeger's rendition of 'Little Birdy'. It takes great powers of the mind to subconsciously copy something you've never heard. Ditto 'My Back Pages'. When Fairport used to sing it in 1967, we probably only got half the words correct, and I don't remember hearing that line.

Dear Richard. Thank you for love and silence in your music. Did you record song in collaboration with Boris Grebentshikov? It called "Gubernator" ("The Governor" in translation). If so, why it is in secret? And please, tell me how to start understand, that the most important things are very simple? And there is no necessity to bawl about that things to improve my friends and relatives? Thank you. From Russia with love. My regards, Ayrat Shafikov.

If it's a secret, then it's Boris' secret, and not mine to divulge.

The next part of your question is lost in translation somewhat, but simple is the hardest thing. As Sophocles said, 'The only difference between me and my students is that I know I know nothing.'

Richard Thompson in Santa Monica with the legendary Russian rock musician,
Boris Grebenshchikov, of the the band Aquarium.
- at Michael's Santa Monica.

Hello Richard,
I've always wondered what goes into choosing your album covers. I've found that your covers tend to veer between really cool (Electric, More Guitar, Walking on a Wire) and almost self-deprecating/humorous (Rumor & Sigh, Action Packed, Mirror Blue, Amnesia, Henry the Human Fly). Is that a fair assessment? How are they chosen? How much input do you have? Thanks, Chris

I think that's a fair assessment. I've answered this question here before in detail; my basic comment is that covers are frequently compromised between the concept and the execution, and before it can be fixed, the thing has to be rushed out on the streets.