Richard's Riposte
5/11/2006 (updated 5/11/2006)

Loved your work on ‘Grizzly Man’ and it was interesting to watch you play. Do you always use a flat pick when finger picking? (Probably a stupid question since I know you like to explore variety.) Anyway, I decided to try to pick up ‘Taking My Business Elsewhere’ but I'm stumped on the tuning used. Can you divulge? Also, what other tunings do you use?

RT: Please see the tech section of this website for info on tunings and pick technique. ‘Taking My Business Elsewhere’ will be towards the back of volume three of the songbook, so I could give brief heads up:

Tuning is drop D, capo 5. TAB would be the way to read the fingering, which I don’t have to hand here. First chord is a D minor shape with C#, then D minor with a B, E minor with a B flat, and A 7 sus 4 add B flat. That’s to get you started….

I bought Liege an Lief when it came out ( I was 13 years old!) and it's stayed one of my favourite albums ever since. It may spoil the myth but what is Farewell about.......specially the line Drink the light to be.

My lovely Linda and I have been having a discussion about the meaning of the song “Dimming of the Day” and have a bet riding on it. Could you please settle this for us and explain what it is about?

RT: It’s really impossible to say what songs are about, most of the time. I may have written a few songs that are obscure in their references, and I’m happy, where possible, to elucidate. But the two above – I really don’t have anything to say, and what isn’t obvious or logical isn’t meant to be obvious or logical. It’s whatever you want it to be, and if it wasn’t like that, it would be prose and not a song lyric, that often tends to lean to the poetical. In one of his poems, Archibald McLeish says, as a metaphor for poetry, that coral ‘means’ the movement of the sea.

Hi Richard - how do you spend your off duty time between gigs when you're touring Aus? How do you like Byron Bay?

RT: Myself, Tour Manager Simon Tassano, and Australian Tour Manager Michael Hayes, are all keen naturalists (not the one where you take all your clothes off). Australia has some of the best flora and fauna anywhere in the world, so we are delighted to get out there in the bush with the Bushnells. A highlight was a great reserve just 15 minutes from Port Fairy – I forget the name, but it was a kind of sink hole, about half a mile across, that was flooded in the winter. We saw koalas, emus, kangaroos, an echidna, and some unusual fairy wrens all in about an hour, and all in the wild. I love the National Botanical Garden in Canberra, and Kings Park in Perth, two of my favourite places in the world. Australian birdlife is just spectacular. It’s wonderful to see cockatoos, ibises and rainbow lorikeets right in the middle of cities, where other countries have sparrows. Oh, and we love Byron Bay – it would be hard not to.

I’m from Holland and I’ve seen you hadn’t had a gig for a few years here. Could that be on the planning of your tour dates? I don’t know how much audience you’ve got in Holland, but Vredenburg Utrecht seems the best location to me. Nice seetings for a relaxed caint of music. I just got in touch with your music through my dad and I love it. I hope you can/will reply to this one.

RT: We actually played at the Melkweg in Amsterdam last year – but it is a while since we were in Utrecht, one of my favourite cities. Please annoy your local promoter to get us booked!

Inquiring home-recording enthusiasts would like to know precisely which equipment you used in your home studio to record Front Parlour Ballads. In addition to info you've already provided through the Q and A we'd like to know:

A) What converter(s) you used to send your music from preamp to Apple laptop, and back out to your monitoring system

B) If the Universal Audio LA-610 was employed for more than just the vocals, and what preamps were used to stereo track your acoustic guitar

C) What studio reference monitors you used

D) What mic(s) you employ to capture your Divided By 13 amp's sound

Obviously the equipment used is but a fraction of the end result, but it would be helpful to know what gear a professional such as yourself feels confident employing for an album. The record sounds wonderful! Thank you for a most-enjoyable listen, and the inspiration for home recording you've provided.

RT: Gosh, you people! Well, if you must know…

A) My midi/analogue converter is a MOTU 828 Mk.2

B) The LA 610 was used on the guitar amp. I just used the preamps in the MOTU for acoustic guitar.

C) I use Mackie HR 824s

D) I used a Russian Superlux large diaphragm condenser mic.

As the latest UK Number 1 got there on the basis of downloads only I’ve thought of a drop dead, must have song that everybody would buy: a re-recording of Persuasion as a duet with Linda Thompson. I’m not sure whether this suggestion would meet with Mr Thompson’s approval and I imagine that there could be all sorts of ex matrimonial tension involved (or maybe not – I have no idea!). However a strong candidate for a ‘smash hit’ surely?

RT: Seeing as this is about the 15th time you’ve written in with this question, I had better reply…I had a long and enjoyable musical and domestic relationship with Linda, and then we both moved on to other things. Working with one’s ex may not be such a great idea, for reasons that you may be able to imagine, and for reasons that you may not. Regardless of how we may feel about each other at this point, how would the current Mr. Kenis and Mrs. Thompson feel if this project did turn out to be a ‘smash hit’, and the two singers were forced to tour it for a year or two? Let’s move on, shall we?