Answers to those tricky questions, Part V
8/8/2008 (updated 8/8/2008)

I feel thankful that I've gotten to hear you perform many songs of "Hokey Pokey" over the years, given that I was in diapers when the record came out and thus not attending shows. Have you ever performed "Old Man Inside a Young Man" live, and if so, in what context (solo, band, power trio, etc.)?

I’ve never performed it live. Not sure I ever will.

Also, how about some all-request shows on the east coast, maybe at the Birchmere? Thanks, Jon Eisen-Hecht, Alexandria, VA

It could work at the Birchmere. I’m planning to do some request shows in other areas.

I'm just about to leave home to see you at the Ottawa "BluesFest" in a few hours. As an expat Brit who's seen you in a few countries, I find that Ottawa audiences can be quite subdued. Maybe it's all the civil servants in the city?! How important to your performance is audience response? And over the years, has your attitude to audience response changed? Are you now more or less affected by it?

The Ottawa crowd was pretty lively (in retrospect). I think the building often has more effect on the response of the audience than anything else – some venues are just intimidating. A few drinks probably help things along. Does it affect the show? Absolutely, but as a pro you are supposed to ignore the lack of vibe, and get yourself into the zone – basically get inside the music.

Unrelated: as a lifelong Stoke City fan, I'm excited at the prospect of them returning to the top level of football (even if it does turn out to be for just one season!) Do you follow a team?! Cheers, Paul Wood

Celtic is my team, and Queen of the South, of course. Premiership-wise, I admire any of the top four who are playing well.

Richard - Just saw you at the Ottawa Bluesfest last night. My celebrity question...when you are at festivals like this one or the Montreal Jazzfest, do you often run into musicians you know, meet any new musicians, or see someone you'd love to get up & jam with if you had the chance. Or, are you just in & out & don't see anyone? Thanks, Brian Hayes, Ottawa, ON

Festivals are one of the few places to meet and hear other acts, so it’s always an intriguing experience. The other place to meet fellow-musos is airports, but the jamming possibilities are more limited there.

I have a question about the setlist from the Toronto show - I don't know if you know about RT's touring, but really I'm not sure who else to ask. RT sang a song tonight, the chorus "Time's Gonna Break You..." Is this an RT song or a cover? Is it on an album? I've been looking for some more info on it but have come up with nothing. Thanks for your time. Karla Singh

This song, which you accurately titled, is from an upcoming project, and should be available next year.

Recently, I found an old Melody Maker music publication from 1972. The magazine contained an ad for Henry the Human Fly, announcing "Richard Thompson Makes his First Solo". The ad had several photos of you as the 'Human Fly' that I hadn't seen before. Your costume in these photos appears to have similar elements as the costumes that Peter Gabriel was sporting for Genesis in 1972. Were your costumers (at least for the album and promo shoot) the same? Tom Morrissey, Riverside, Illinois

I doubt they were the same, and definitely not the same budget – ours was done for about ninepence in the old money. Annie Sullivan, from the Island Records art department, grabbed some bits from the costume and joke shop that used to be opposite Olympia in London (might still be there). We shot film at Pampisford Hall, near Cambridge, a wonderful mad eccentric house, at that time stuffed with the antiques of the world.

The July 7 Ann Arbor concert was, as always, a great event. I hereby incorporate by reference every compliment ever paid to you. However, I did not realize you were such an ice hockey fan. I am a huge hockey and Red Wings fan and loved your editorial comments on the season (Kings, Wings - so close, but yet so far). At any rate, two questions:
Do you skate or play hockey at all?
Are you more impressed with Datsyuk or Zetterberg? Carrick D. Craig, Kalamazoo, MI

I don’t skate much – I usually go in goal for my 16-year-old son, who is a really fine player. We are huge Kings fans, which is, of course, an immensely frustrating business. The Kings are still paying for their cynical lack of investment in the 90s. They now have a ‘youth policy’, i.e. no-one over the age of 20 wants to play for them. But they have some great young players, and it can’t get any worse. I’d rate Zetterberg the #1 player in the league, certainly the best two-way forward, with Datsyuk not far behind. And the Wings won the cup with the oldest team in the NHL…

Hi, I am a huge Boston suburb fan of yours. Have seen you many times and have the following question. Your version of Donovan's "Season Of The Witch" on the Crossing Jordan soundtrack is incredible! Have you ever done it live and what is the chance of that? Thanks for any response. Norm.

We used to play it in Fairport, back in the 60s. The producers of ‘Crossing Jordan’ suggested it as a piece for the show. We only played it live once, at the Fillmore, SF, with the author, Mr. Donovan himself, along with ‘Mellow Yellow’ and ‘Hurdy Gurdy Man’. What fun! There is a recording…

"When I Get to the Border" has always struck me as the definitive RT song, full of death and mordant wit and killer guitar solos. Yet I've never heard it played live, it doesn't show up on any of the "archival" live CDs, and it rarely makes the set lists. Why not? Tom Wright/Tempe, Arizona

I used to play it in the folk clubs with Linda, and I did it one Cropredy with Fairport, which is probably recorded. It doesn’t really lend itself to live performance, for reasons I can’t quite fathom. I will review this opinion.