1 RT List Interview
10/3/2004 (updated 10/2/2004)

Scott Miller: What do you think of this month's Vote for Change concerts with Bruce Springsteen, Bonnie Raitt, Jackson Browne et al.?"

I believe musicians have a right to express their political views. It's probably a good idea that the audience knows it's a political rally with music upfront, so there's no confusion. I'm a little out of touch - are there younger bands voicing concerns over US foreign policy? At the time of the Vietnam War, the protest was colossal, almost generational...Jackson and Bonnie have been political voices since then.

Flip Feij: What does the recent flight-incident with Cat Stevens learn us about today's US-society? Could you comment on this?

Al Qaeda are a real threat to the West, and I'm glad that security agencies around the world are active in combatting them. But Cat Stevens? As somebody commented, "The War On Terror - we've got the guy who wrote 'Peace Train'". I know Jusuf a bit, and he's a lovely man, dedicated to charity, peace, and education. Possibilities: They got their files mixed up; he gave money to charity, that ended up in the wrong hands; he knowingly gave money to Hamas, before they were declared a terror organisation; he gave money to Hamas, knowing they were a terror organization.

The last seems unlikely, knowing the man. The first seems most likely, given that he's made multiple trips to the US, and has never had a problem in the UK.

Susan Dickson-Smith To me, the sense of connection with something larger than the self is what separates the artist from the technician. That sense of service and the humility that comes with it are very apparent in your music. Could you talk a little bit about how your spirituality influences your music? I'm especially interested in your perspective on maintaining the spiritual side of creativity while under stress (constant touring, geopolitics, what have you).

Music is spiritual stuff, and even musicians who clearly worship money, or fame, or ego, cannot help but express a better part of themselves sometimes when performing, so great is the gift of music, and so connected to our higher selves. What we believe informs everything we do, and music is no exception. I think to keep some integrity in a difficult environment like touring, or just to exist on a tricky old planet, it is helpful, regardless of belief system, to put aside a little time every day for reflection - to consider one's gifts, the joys of existence, and one's place in the universe.

Pam Winters: I'd like to know about Mr. Thompson's knowledge of sailing, as demonstrated, in particular, in the lyrics to "Hand of Kindness." Sailing references come up in other RT songs, so I assume this wasn't just a clip job a la the New Main Street Singers' "Fare Away". What experience has he had scuppering and luffing and so forth?

I luffed till I cried! I love boats, but have decided the ultimate in maintenance-free yachting is to travel on other peoples'. I've never taken a proper sailing course, and promise myself I will, one day. I can hoist the odd jib, and come about in a lubberly fashion.