Thursday, September 9, 2010

In praise of: Richard Thompson

It was my birthday recently so my wife and my parents chipped in to buy me the Richard ThompsonSongbook – a three-volume compendium of chords, lyrics and tunings for all my hero’s songs (at least all those before his new album Dream Attic). Chords I can generally work out by ear, also lyrics. Tunings less so. The non-standard ones are mostly dropped D, but then he will use a capo on perhaps the fourth fret in open C tuning. You try using a standard-tuning guitar to figure that stuff out. I used to know how to play loads of Joni Mitchell songs in open tuning  (all of the For the Roses album, among others) but that doesn’t help my ears any more.

None of this helps with the hot electric guitar solo side of things. (Thompson is a really, really hot electric guitar soloist.) I mentioned this to Distractions, aka Chris Bourke, who responded with a link to a guitar tablature site with correct fingerings for, among other songs,  the great “Shoot Out the Lights”. Chris doesn’t even play guitar, so it is really irritating that he knows more about this than I do. But now I can play it. Sort of.

Here is Richard Thompson himself performing ”Shoot Out the Lights” in December 2009. There are many other versions on YouTube: they are all good but this is probably the best. If you watch it and wonder, “Who is the prat in the hat?”, the prat in the hat is Elvis Costello.


Anonymous said...

He does a jolly good version of Oops! I Did It Again also

(Love Richard)

Anonymous said...

Oops! I left out the link

Stephen Stratford said...

Yes, he is a fine interpreter of Britney Spears. I eagerly await his version of Katy Perry's "I Kissed a Girl".

Anonymous said...

Can you please post that link to the Richard Thompson tabs you mention in this post, Stephen? I've been looking for 'Pavanne' forever.