April/May Q&A - Part One
7/1/2007 (updated 7/1/2007)

‘Full House’ has become one of my favorite albums in recent years, but why on Earth did you decide to get rid of "Poor Will and the Jolly Hangman?" - John T Plasket

I take responsibility for this grievous decision. I felt my vocal wasn’t good enough, and I talked the others into leaving it off. Silly really, I should have just worked harder at it. The song truly belongs on there, and I’m glad it has been restored on later versions (with a better vocal).

I love the solo acoustic version of "Shoot Out the Lights." In my own feeble attempts to get the arrangement down pat, I've been getting stuck. I notice that the guitar is in drop-D, but where do you go from there? I've been scratching my head trying to figure out how you get that sound. - Justin Goble

Before the big D chord, there’s the big ‘C with an E bass’ chord – best played as a normal C chord with the thumb adding the low E. Then there’s a million other things – that’ll get you to step 2, anyway.

Richard- thank you for swinging through Arizona recently! I hope you'll come back with the next "1000 Years" tour. I've just read Joe Boyd's book about his career as a producer in London and elsewhere, including of course his thoughts on Fairport and on your solo work. Any comment? - Tom Wright

I enjoyed Joe’s book, especially the stuff I didn’t know – mostly the early years collecting blues and jazz records, rooming with Tom Rush, booking old blues singers and failing to keep them sober, and the early days in London working for Jack Holzman. Joe was the man who had the vision to see the worth of Nick and Sandy and John Martyn and the Increds and Dudu and Chris – would someone have noticed if he hadn’t been there? And would they have made the records they wanted to make? Good on yer, Joe. What he says about Fairport is pretty accurate, I think – no arguments.

Hey Richard, Have you listened to the new Fairport “Live at the BBC” box set? What do you think of it? - Jamie

I haven’t heard it, but I’m familiar with the components. It’s nice, at this point, to have those BBC recordings, of all kinds of bands like Pink Floyd and Cream. The equipment was antique, and a lot of that stuff was recorded mono, and overdubbed mono to mono, so quality is not great, and there’s noticeable wow and flutter on a lot of the Fairport tracks. As a document of Fairport, it shows what we were playing as a live band, and the huge amount of material we went through in the 60s. It was exciting for us to be on the radio, starting in 1967, getting recording experience, hearing ourselves as we drove down the motorway, and supplementing our meagre wages with some more meagre wages.

I was wondering about your views on the current trend for bands from the 60s, 70s and 80s to reform. As someone who has never really stopped performing and recording (apart from that brief period in the mid-70s), do you think that bands like the Who and the Police can ever live up to expectations? Are there any bands/performers that you would like to see exhumed (possibly not literally)? Many thanks - Paul Solman

I think, the mortgage rate being what it is, that every band that ever existed is on the road, and the few that aren’t are probably loathing each other too much to reform. The Who was a very high energy band in their youth, so inevitably that’s gone away a bit, and without Keith it was never the same. I should think the Police will be pretty good – they even all have their own hair!

You're probably familiar with which allows you to choose an artist you like, and then plays songs by other artists that it thinks you might also like. What strikes me so far is how many Kinks songs it suggests for an RT fan. Do you consider Ray Davies an influence? Looking forward to seeing you and the band in Boston in June. Thanks, - Bob

Not an influence really. I love his writing, and he has a great sense of Englishness, that seems to come strongly from British Music Hall tradition. I consider him one of the great half-dozen songwriters from the UK in the rock and roll era.

Richard, could yourself and Martin Carthy, busy chaps, please consider a joint venture. I have seen you both many times over many years both here in Australia and in England. I know that you are kindred spirits and, surely, it is a matter of time. Blank canvas, two acoustic guitars, two voices, away you go. Supported by a tour, of course. Yes, I am lobbying. - Pete Herring

I may have answered this before, in another forum, and I would have expressed my greatest admiration for Mr. C’s artistry. But it’s a bit like playing with Ry Cooder – he’s already covering everything, what’s left to play? Could be fun trying, though…