Thank you for asking III
8/21/2007 (updated 8/21/2007)

Dear Richard: Have you always had the guitar-playing abilities you have now? In other words, if You in your ‘Human Fly’ days had met the You of today, in Borges-like fashion, would the younger You have been able to play songs like "Beeswing" and "1952" or would you think "How the heck did he (me) do that?" Just wondering, because your playing sounds brilliant from all eras. Thank you for the great show in Cleveland last week! Seeing a song like "One Door Opens" performed live is a real treat. Very best wishes, David Fedan.

I think I play better now – better technique, better harmonic ideas, better feel. On acoustic, I really developed some new techniques in the 80s, that my younger self could definitely not play. He can back me on rhythm, though…and I’d like to have a word with that young chap, talk some sense into him.

Richard, is it possible that, in this life, we can expect to see you and Neil Young together on stage? If not, why? hopefully, Peter Dees

Well, one of us is an unrepentant old hippie with a slightly crippled guitar style – and the other one is Neil Young! We don’t seem to move in the same circles.

Is the shirt Richard Thompson has been wearing on the current tour in the US available from any source. Can you tell me by whom the shirt was made as a possible source to have one made --- any other suggestions would be appreciated. thank you, Tom McGill

I’ve been wearing shirts on this tour made by two companies; London Underground and English Laundry. I believe one of Motley Crue owns one of these companies, which may stop you in your tracks right there. I buy them at a shop called Attitudes, in the Westside Pavilion in Westwood, CA.

Hi Richard
I noticed that the current set list on the US leg of the tour does not include 'Guns are the Tongues'. For me this is one of the standout tracks on the new album. Any plans for a live version when you get to the UK in the autumn. See you in Manchester! Robert Cohen, Cumbria, UK

We plan to have it in the set list from September onwards.

I have been very moved by ‘Guns are the Tongue’s on the new album. It seems that Carrie is using her charms to recruit new members into the IRA. Is / was Carrie a real person, or based on several females that actually worked this way? I downloaded the album from ‘iTunes’ so I have no liner notes. Brilliant Album. Thanks, Richard Sanders

"Guns Are the Tongues" is as fine a song as any you've written (no mean feat, as you know much better than I). I've yet to encounter a less dogmatic, less simplistic portrait of the tragic seductiveness of terrorism. Though I'm normally loath to ask an artist to explain his work, I was curious whether the song is based on an IRA incident or whether the Carrie and Little Joe characters are entirely your own creation. Either way, thanks for opening a door that we normally don't get to see past. Jim Scheiner

This song is fiction, and not based on any real characters. Put it in Ireland if you like, but I left the setting a little vague. The politics is supposed to be more of a backdrop to the human drama.

Richard, I saw a movie once about a pool hustler who had his thumbs broken by a sore loser. Do you ever worry that a deranged Clapton fan might try something like that with you? I just read in Star magazine that many celebrities have their valuable physical assets insured. Tina Turner, for example, had her legs insured for $26 million dollars. Are your fingers insured? Are you allowed to chop onions or hammer nails? I'm sure that among nine-fingered guitarists you'd jump from #19 to Top Five, but I pray such a tragedy never occurs. James Price

If I had Tina’s legs, I’d do the same thing. I have some insurance, but nothing specific about fingers. I don’t think Django had any…

Could you tell me what key ‘Cooksferry Queen’ is in? The harp sounds great and I want to blow along. Thanks! Steve Schwemmer

The key is F, which I think means a B flat harp. Sadly, David McKelsey, who played on the record, passed on recently.

Hello Mr. Thompson,
I would like to know what kind of acoustic 8 string mandolin you play. Brand, type, f-holes/oval hole...? Hearing it on records, I think it's very clear and subtle, but with great sustain and power. Though I think the most part of it comes through your wonderful playing, the instrument must have a "say" in it to. Regards, Staf Dierckx

I use a 1920 Gibson A2, black finish, round hole. This is a wonderful instrument, that I bought for $100 at Music Inn in New York, in 1972. It would probably cost a little more today. It records beautifully, and I have never desired another.

Hi Richard,
‘Bones of All Me’, the CD of late medieval/Renaissance music with Phil Pickett, you and the Fairport rhythm section, is to my mind one of the best and most inventive pieces of cross-over work around (though maybe cross-over isn't fair, and a rock setting could be argued as an appropriate ground for hundreds of years old dance music!). It sounds as though it was great fun to do, and all the musicians were in top form. Two questions - were there any session 'out-takes' or unreleased tracks that are waiting to see the light of day? And are there any plans to do/would you take part in a ‘Bones II’? Graham Keevill

This was a wonderful project to work on, and I think it turned out really well. There were no outtakes. It would be fun to do something like it again – Phil Pickett is pretty busy these days with the New London Consort, and is doing a lot of guest conducting, so assembling the cast might be tough.

I purchased "Sweet Warrior" & think it's great. However, I was surprised to see that Pete Zorn does not play on it at all -- why not? Thanks, Eric G. Wruck

The only reasons would be geography and finance. Pete’s an asset on stage and in the studio. Perhaps on the next one, we’ll send the tape to the UK and he can ‘phone’ it in.