Repartee Part I
2/21/2005 (updated 2/21/2005)

As a musician who has toured extensively, how have you protected that most valuable of assets: your hearing? On stage do you use in-ear monitors or ear plugs, or is the stage volume low enough that these are not necessary? If the latter is true, could you please tell me at what number the volume on your Fender Vibroverb is typically set so that I may loosely gauge what a long-term acceptable volume level may be? Michael Schatte

It’s probably quieter on stage than it is in the front few rows. I don’t like in-ear monitors – although they give you the balance you want, they remove you slightly from the experience of a ‘live’ show, of being in the room. Slight hearing loss that I’ve suffered seems mostly from ear infections – I got three in a row once from swimming in Santa Monica Bay (don’t eat the shellfish!), and subsequently my left ear is a little down on my right. Certain frequencies do more damage than others – cymbals can cause some damage over long exposure – drummers like DM wear those little in-ear filters, that take care of the harmful stuff. If I’m on a small stage, and the drums are right up my jacksie, I’ll wear one of those on the sensitive side. My amp is usually set around 5, or a little under half way (it goes to 11), being about 20 watts (ratings vary wildly from brand to brand).

Remember, Daltrey and Townsend are deaf from the onstage pyrotechnics, not the music. And to tell you a trade secret, dear reader, Jimi and Quo and many of the bands with amp stacks – only the bottom speaker cab was plugged in. There is something about recovery time from loud noise as well, that helps to heal ears – working in a noisy factory 8 hours a day might make you deafer quicker that R&R. I do a Chinese exercise for the ears, which you might find useful and relaxing:

Place both index fingers over both ear flaps till the ear passages are comfortably closed. Now tap lightly on the backs of the index fingers with the middle fingers. Tap once every couple of seconds, gently. Tap about ten times, rest, ten more times, rest again, and ten more times. Breathe slowly and calmly, and enjoy the silence and the stimulation. This is called ‘Beating the Heavenly Drum’.

Richard, What of the rumors of an Iain Matthews/RT project? Any truth? If so, when might we see/hear the fruits of your labours? Also, on the "Chrono Show" CD, the combination of your voice with Teddy's on "She May Call You Up Tonight" is exceptional, amazing overtones. Please say you and Teddy have more plans to record together. Eric Swanson

Iain and I have talked about doing a project together for about 20 years. I feel we are getting closer…..

I love to work with Teddy – he is busy with his own agenda just now, although I did get to play some guitar on his new CD (forthcoming). I hope he’ll think of me in the future, and come and wipe up the drool in the old folks’ home.

Richard, I am having the hardest time uncovering info on which tracks you recorded with Al Stewart. I have his "Best Of" from 1992, but no musician credits are included! (And I can't sense your presence either.) Can you recall? Thanks much. Phil Daquila

I did, I think, 2 albums with Al, but I can’t remember what they were called – it’s been a while. I was credited, for contractual reasons, as either Agnes Mirren or Rhoda McInthorp.

Your lines from Pearly Jim which say 'Chairman Mao has a whole lot of thoughts/R.D.Laing has got me tied up in knots' seem to echo a couplet of Dylan's from the strongly evangelical Precious Angel -'Karl Marx has got you by the throat/and Henry Kissinger's got you tied up in knots'.Any connection? Mike Leahy

There goes the Bobster, stealing my lines again! How he manages to steal them before I’ve written them, I’ll never know. I am unfamiliar with this particular song, so I can’t imagine I stole it even in my sleep.

I'm trying to place a song that Richard performed on 1/29/05 at the Ann Arbor folk Festival. It contained the lines:
"there's no one as perfect as you";
"they say it's because I'm a fool in love";
"those are the ones never saw you".

The song is called “Old Thames Side”, and will be available on the forthcoming solo CD, expected August (and so far on time).

Part II