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DAVID BIANCULLI, host:

This is Fresh Air, I'm David Bianculli sitting in for Terry Gross.

Over the past 41 years, singer, songwriter, guitarist Richard Thompson has made a lot of great music in different settings.

In the '60s, it was as guitarist for the British band Fairport Convention, one of the most important folk rock groups. In the late '70s and '80s, he performed with his wife Linda Thompson. And since their divorce, he's performed solo under his own name, continuing to create evocative music - often darkly humorous, sometimes just dark.

A new boxed set, "Walking on a Wire - 1968 to 2009," collects 71 tracks covering Richard Thompson's entire career; from his early Fairport Convention days to his latest solo work. Here's one of the songs included on the new box set, Richard and Linda Thompson from their 1982 album "Shoot Out The Lights," performing his song, "Wall of Death."

(Soundbite of song, "Wall of Death")

Mr. RICHARD THOMPSON (Singer/Songwriter): (Singing) Let me ride on the wall of death one more time. Let me ride on the wall of death one more time. You can waste your time on the other rides, this is the nearest to being alive. Oh let me take my chances on the wall of death.

BIANCULLI: Richard Thompson is such a welcome and frequent visitor to FRESH AIR. But today, we're pulling performances and interviews from three different appearances. The first is from 1994 when Thompson brought his guitar to the FRESH AIR studios and spoke with Terry about his CD, "Mirror Blue." He opened with "Easy There, Steady Now." Terry asked him what inspired that song.

Mr. THOMPSON: I don't know what I was thinking about - what, when this was written. It's a very kind of paranoid song. A very, uh, (unintelligible) kind of urban desolation song, I suppose. You know? And the guy singing the song is really kind of controlling - trying to control himself. But, yeah, you get a feeling that, you know, he isn't going to succeed. It's a little darker, this song. But I thought, well, you know, dark song, let's put a nice wacky sort of polka beat…

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. THOMPSON: …and that will fool everybody into thinking it's something a little lighter than it is. So it's got strange things. I play a lot with an acoustic bass player, Danny Thompson, who's - no relation. But the arrangement, we kind of worked up together. So, you know, some of his ideas (unintelligible) arrangement. So, it's kind of - a funny kind of Bulgarian bits and things in it. I don't know where they come from.

(Soundbite of song, "Easy There, Steady Now")

Mr. THOMPSON: (Singing) Jack-knife with a precious load spills its guts all over the road. Excuse me, I had to smile, lost my grip, too, for a while. I said easy there, steady now, easy there, steady now. She didn't have the decency to sweep away what's left of me. I don't have the presence of mind to walk along on a straight line. Easy there, steady now, easy there, steady now. I call your name, I call it loud. I see your face in every crowd.

3 am an empty town, Doctor Marten's echo down. Old man heartbreak follows you, corruption's shadow swallows you. I said easy there, steady now, easy there, steady now. Easy there, steady now, easy there, steady now.

TERRY GROSS: You know, I don't know that I could think another guitarist who combines the best of folk and rock, better than you do. And I'd like to like go back to when you first got a guitar, and ask you about what you were listening to then. What direction you thought you wanted to head in back when you were however old you were?

Mr. THOMPSON: I don't know if I had a direction, you know, I don't think you think when you're that young or if you do, you know, Mozart or something.

GROSS: Why did you want a guitar?

Mr. THOMPSON: There was already a guitar in the house. My father played guitar and there's a lot of guitar music in the house, you know, Django Reinhardt records and Les Paul records. Then my oldest sister, you know, when rock and roll came along, she had Buddy Holly records and Gene Vincent records. So, there's lots of guitar stuff. So it was very logical to pick it up and play it. And I really tried to play everything. So, I really absorbed you know a lot of folk stars and a lot of rock stars. You know, really improved before I was 15 or 16.

GROSS: What was your father playing?

Mr. THOMPSON: He was playing dance band jazz, very badly though. He's just an amateur musician. And…

GROSS: So what (unintelligible) play in? He was a policeman?

Mr. THOMPSON: Yeah. He was, you know, he just noodle around the house. I mean, I think at some point, he was in a dance band. You know, the Swinging Cops or something…

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. THOMPSON: …the Four Truncheons.

(Soundbite of laughter)

GROSS: So did you teach yourself?

Mr. THOMPSON: I taught myself a bit. My sister's boyfriends used to teach me. A couple of her boyfriends played guitar. So, while they were waiting for her to get ready, it was just - usually a good couple of hours, I get a good guitar lesson. And then I took classical lessons at one point for a couple of years.

GROSS: Oh, really?

Mr. THOMPSON: Yeah.

GROSS: So when you were, say, a teenager, what were the licks that you were trying hardest to learn.

Mr. THOMPSON: You know, Buddy Holly sort of stuff…

(Soundbite of guitar)

Mr. THOMPSON: You know, some Elvis stuff.

(Soundbite of guitar)

Mr. THOMPSON: You know, that sore of stuff. The Shadows, who were a great British instrumental band.

(Soundbite of guitar)

Mr. THOMPSON: That kind of stuff. This is the folk stuff here.

(Soundbite of music)

Mr. THOMPSON: (Singing) And away we go. Away.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. THOMPSON: That was awful. Yaahhh! A lot of that sort of stuff, you know. I used to go to folk clubs as well. You'd get a real diet - you know, you'd see someone really good, you know, you'd see David Graham one week and then somebody, like, really atrocious next week, but then, you know, you could see blues artists coming to Britain from about '63 onwards, '63, '64.

GROSS: And did they leave a big impression on you?

Mr. THOMPSON: Oh, yeah, I mean, it's great. You know, you could see someone, you know, you'd heard on a record, and you thought they were dead and then, you know, they'd turn up. It was just fantastic.

GROSS: So you were learning to play in many different languages, really, when you were starting.

Mr. THOMPSON: Yeah, so really, I used play a really wide range of music, and when Fairport started up, we were really doing the same kind of thing, you know. We tended to be whatever band was required to get the gig. So if they wanted an acoustic band to play in the folk club, you know, that was us, you know, we'd just get a repertoire together and do that, and if you wanted a blues band, then you know, we'd learn some blues and be a blues band.

So I suppose it was a good education. At a certain point, we settled down to play in a kind of, you know, assort of a traditional base style, rock style that was very constant, still constant for me.

GROSS: But you really have a lot of folk in your playing and in your singing. I think you have family from Scotland.

Mr. THOMPSON: Yeah.

GROSS: You grew up in London. Was it ever a roots kind of thing for you?

Mr. THOMPSON: It was, yeah. Well, you know, I grew up, you know, listening and not really thinking about, you know, Scottish music. You know, there was a lot of Scottish dance music in the house.

GROSS: That your parents played?

Mr. THOMPSON: Yeah, yeah, and the bookshelves were lined with sort of Walter Scott and Robert Burns and stuff, which, you know, out of boredom I used to read and actually I kind of got into, and - but back a generation, my family really used to be very musical.

You know, my great uncles used to have a dance band in Scotland, and they'd play Scottish country music and jazz.

GROSS: Scottish country music. Is that, like, just…

Mr. THOMPSON: Scottish dance music.

GROSS: Okay, right.

(Soundbite of music)

Mr. THOMPSON: It's like I'm in the wrong tune again.

GROSS: Now, did you like that when you were growing up because a lot of people grow up very much disliking the music of their parents and their grandparents, and then when they get older, they go back to it.

Mr. THOMPSON: I liked it, but I discarded it. I thought it wasn't important, and it definitely wasn't fashionable, yeah, until I was about, 17, 18 really, and…

GROSS: And why did you go back to it then?

Mr. THOMPSON: Well, I started to listen to more traditional music, and I started to connect it, you know, going to folk clubs and hearing a really great, you know, Scottish, Irish singer. I thought oh, you know, this will make sense.

GROSS: Now, did you think it would make sense within the context of your playing? You know, did you think you'd find a place within the context of rock 'n' roll?

Mr. THOMPSON: No, I really didn't think so, but in Fairport, you know, we were sort of a thinking band. You know, we were a bit intellectual, you know, for better or worse, and we used to think, well, you know, what should we do? You know, what's our direction? You know, do we want to be, you know, a secondhand British blues band? You know, did we want to be a really lousy soul band, you know, or do we want to be original? And in pursuit of sort of originality and meaning, I think, in our music, it took us to play traditional music with a more contemporary lean, you know, and that for us was satisfying, and we thought, well, here's something that we can do best, here's something, you know, if Muddy Waters ever tries to sing "The Bonnie Bunch of Roses," he'll come really unstuck, you know.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. THOMPSON: We can show him a thing or two.

BIANCULLI: Richard Thompson, speaking with Terry Gross in 1994. More after a break. This is FRESH AIR.

(Soundbite of music)

BIANCULLI: Let's get back to Terry's 1994 interview with Richard Thompson. A new CD box set spanning his entire career, "Walking on a Wire: 1968 to 2009," recently has been released.

GROSS: Do you want to do another song for us?

Mr. THOMPSON: Okay, yes.

GROSS: How about another one from the new album. There's a song called Mingus Eyes," which is Charles Mingus, and…

Mr. THOMPSON: Yeah, it refers to Charles Mingus, yeah.

GROSS: Yeah, do you want to say something about the song?

Mr. THOMPSON: I could say that I suppose it's a song of someone looking back at youth, you know, and saying, you know, how stupid people are when they're young because they think they look like James Dean and that people think they're cool an intelligent. Actually, people think they're stupid.

Perhaps at some point in your life, you realize that you look stupid, so you know, in the song, the protagonist says, well you know, or he used to think if I talk like Marlon Brando and people can't understand me, and if I make big, soulful eyes at people and look like Charles Mingus, then perhaps they'll think I'm really great, but maybe not.

(Soundbite of song, "Mingus Eyes")

Mr. THOMPSON: (Singing) What a fool I was. What a thin disguise. Brando mumble. Mingus eyes. Was a time she fell, but then she got wise. Brando mumble. Mingus eyes.

I never had the squint of James Dean or the Stanislavski tears or the rebel hunch that kills or the smile that slowly disappears. What a fool I was. What a thin disguise. Brando mumble. Mingus eyes. Brando mumble. Mingus Eyes.

GROSS: That was great.

Mr. THOMPSON: Thank you.

GROSS: Something else I have to say about your guitar playing. It's - all the technical virtuosity is in service of the music and the emotion. I just feel like you're such a not-show-off player.

(Soundbite of music)

(Soundbite of laughter)

GROSS: Yeah, right.

Mr. THOMPSON: (Unintelligible) Well, I fooled you.

GROSS: Anyway, I love it. Now, I have to talk to you about your voice, too. I've been talking to you about your playing. Back in the days when you were learning Buddy Holly licks and Elvis Presley, you know, things off of Elvis Presley records and stuff, what were you trying to do vocally? Did you think of yourself as a singer yet, or were you just focusing on guitar?

Mr. THOMPSON: Not really. You know, I didn't really sing, except for my own amusement, probably. I probably got up in a folk club and sang, but it was pretty awful, I'm sure.

I never really, you know, tried to be a singer until I think when Sandy Denny left Fairport, then us chaps, we sort of looked at each other and said oh, who's going to sing?

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. THOMPSON: So we sort of reluctantly, you know, took on the roles, but we weren't born singers. I mean, you know, I've really had to work very hard to get anywhere as a singer. I'm still working at it, and you know, even 10 years ago, you know, I don't think I was very good at all, and 20 years ago, I was pretty horrible.

You know, just singing live a lot and doing solo shows a lot helps me to be better.

BIANCULLI: Richard Thompson speaking to Terry Gross in 1994. We'll hear more stories and more music from Richard Thompson in the second half of the show. For now, here's one of most recent songs from the box set, a 2007 from the point of a view of a soldier in Iraq. The song is called "Dad's Gonna Kill Me," and the dad in this case is short for Baghdad. I'm David Bianculli, and this is FRESH AIR.

(Soundbite of song, "'Dad's Gonna Kill Me")

Mr. THOMPSON: (Singing) Out in the desert there's a soldier lying dead, vultures pecking the eyes out of his head. Another day that could have been me there instead. Nobody loves me here. Nobody loves me here. 'Dad's gonna kill me. 'Dad's gonna kill me.

You hit the booby trap and you're in pieces with every bullet your risk increases. Old Ali Baba, he's a different species. Nobody loves me here. Nobody loves me here. 'Dad's gonna kill me. 'Dad's gonna kill me.

I'm dead meat in my Humvee Frankenstein. I hit the road block somehow I never hit the mine. The dice were rolled and I got lucky this time. 'Dad's gonna kill me. 'Dad's gonna kill me.

I got a wife, a kid, another on the way. I might get home if I can live through today. Before I came out here I never used to pray. Nobody loves me here. Nobody loves me here. 'Dad's gonna kill me…

(Soundbite of music)

BIANCULLI: This is FRESH AIR. I'm David Bianculli in for Terry Gross.

Richard Thompson recently released "Walking on a Wire," a CD box set spanning his entire career, from his Fairport Convention days in the '60s to his recent solo recordings and concerts. So we're listening back to some his many visits to FRESH AIR. The first one was in 1991.

GROSS: Now, a lot of British rock performers were inspired by the British blues revival. What effect did that have on you?

Mr. THOMPSON: I probably went the other way. I think I was slightly repulsed by the blues revival.

GROSS: Repulsed?

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. THOMPSON: Well, I've always - you know, since I was about 11 or 12 I was listening to the blues, you know, and when the blues revival came along there was suddenly, you got thousands of British kids playing, you know, what were really inferior versions of Howlin' Wolf and B.B. King and Otis Rush, and I thought, well, this can't be right. You know, this isn't really any good. This is always going to be nothing more than a pale imitation of this wonderful music.

You know, kids living in the suburbs of Manchester, England are never really going to capture it because, you know, there's things that you can't know. There's experiences you can't have about America and about being black and that way of life, you know. So I sort of went the other way, really. I think the blues revival and the popularity of soul music in Britain in the '60s really drove Fairport to traditional music, really, to an indigenous form of music.

GROSS: So when you turned the other way and found music that was traditionally in your country, the kind of folk ballads that you drew on, was that a return for you to that kind of music or was that a brand new discovery of it?

Mr. THOMPSON: It was a bit of both. I think we knew about it, you know, sketchily, really. We'd always, you know, hung out in folk clubs and listened to traditional performers and we had a little bit in childhood and they ram a bit of it down your throat at school, you know. But actually, to really understand it and get into it, we had to do quite a lot of research. We had to do a lot of learning. We had to spend a lot of time with traditional musicians to learn our stuff, really.

GROSS: Why did you leave the band when you did?

Mr. THOMPSON: I was writing a lot of songs that didn't seem to have any place in the band. It was very difficult for me to take those songs because they seemed really rather eccentric songs and rather bizarre songs. But...

GROSS: What, like "Henry the Human Fly" or something?

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. THOMPSON: Yeah. A lot of stuff ended up on "Henry the Human Fly", you know, which is a very eccentric album. And, but it was a direction that I really wanted to explore and it seemed it'd be better - I'd have more time to work on it if I was outside of the band. You know, I was reluctant to leave because there were all great friends and we still are great friends. But you know...

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. THOMPSON: ...but bands have to change.

GROSS: For many years after the Fairport period, you performed and recorded with your wife Linda Thompson and I think a lot of people assumed that the songs that you were singing were personal songs about your relationship together. I'm wondering if that is something you feel like you would never want to do again. In other words, to really sing with someone who you had that close a relationship and to sing songs about a relationship together.

Mr. THOMPSON: Hmm. First of all, I'd say that the songs really weren't about our relationship, whatever people might think.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. THOMPSON: Again, the songs were fiction. What was going on in the subconscious? I mean I don't know, but there's nothing deliberately written about, you know, people. Obviously if you're writing for a man's voice and a woman's voice you have to write some songs from a woman's point of view, so if you're writing about relationships, then you know, you have her angle and you have his angle and it almost looks as if you're writing a, you know, kind of soap opera.

But would I like to do it again? It's difficult. You know, like all - I think it was, it's a difficult thing to sustain, you know, a career and a marriage at the same time, where you're in such close proximity all the time. You know, you're working together and you're home together. It's a very hard thing, very hard thing to do. I wouldn't want to do it again.

BIANCULLI: Richard Thompson on FRESH AIR in 1991. His new box set, "Walking on a Wire," featuring songs from 1968 to the present, was recently released. Here's the title track recorded in 1982 by Richard and Linda Thompson.

(Soundbite of song, "Walking on a Wire")

RICHARD AND LINDA THOMPSON: (Singing) I hand you my ball and chain. You just hand me that same old refrain. I'm walking on a wire, I'm walking on a wire and I'm falling. I wish I could please you tonight. But my medicine just won't come right. I'm walking on a wire, I'm walking on a wire, and I'm falling.

BIANCULLI: Richard and Linda Thompson from their 1982 album "Shoot Out the Lights." We'll continue with our Richard Thompson retrospective after a break.

This is FRESH AIR.

(Soundbite of music)

BIANCULLI: In 2002, Richard Thompson came to FRESH AIR to perform songs from a show based on great tunes he didn't write called "A Thousand Years of Pop Music." It included a Shakespearean song, a madrigal, songs by Hank Williams, the Beatles, and a hit made famous by Britney Spears. Terry asked him about that one.

GROSS: Nowadays when want to illustrate how bad certain pop music is they will use as an example "Oops I Did It Again," the big hit by Britney Spears...

Mr. THOMPSON: Would they do that really? Well, that's a shame.

(Soundbite of laughter)

GROSS: You have taken that show and you're doing it in your show. Obviously there's something that you really like about the song or the record.

Mr. THOMPSON: Well, I think it's a good song. I think it's somewhat in the Swedish pop tradition. As far as I know, the songs are written and recorded in Sweden and then they get flown over to the States and Britney puts the voice on it and they fly them back and produce them and the results are mega, you know.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. THOMPSON: But you know, I kind of like Swedish pop music, you know, the Cardigans and ABBA and what have you, you know. And I think it's actually, it's kind of a good song. It's quite witty in its own way and I don't think it's terrible. I could find a lot more terrible songs around these days than this.

GROSS: Well, why don't you do it for us?

Mr. THOMPSON: Okay.

(Soundbite of song, "Oops I did It Again,")

Mr. THOMPSON: (Singing) I think I did it again. I made you believe we're more than just friends. It might seem like a crush but that doesn't mean that I'm serious. But to lose all my senses, that's just so typically me, oh baby, baby. Oops I did it again. I played with your heart. Got lost in the game. Oh baby baby. Oops, you think I'm in love, that I'm sent from above. I'm not that innocent.

You see my problem is this. I'm dreaming away wishing that heroes truly exist. I cry watching the days you see I'm a fool in so many ways. But to lose all my senses, that's just so typically me, oh baby baby. Oops I did it again. I played with your heart. Got lost in the game. Oh baby baby. Oops, you think I'm in love, that I'm sent from above. I'm not that innocent.

GROSS: That's good.

Mr. THOMPSON: It's not so bad, is it?

GROSS: Yeah.

(Soundbite of laughter)

GROSS: That's very good.

BIANCULLI: Richard Thompson recorded in 2002. That was one of the songs included in his show "A Thousand Years of Pop Music." Let's keep moving and get right back to the other Richard Thompson concert we're featuring today, recorded in 1994.

GROSS: There's another song I'd like to ask you to do called "I Can't Wake Up."

Mr. THOMPSON: Okay. Here it comes.

(Soundbite of song, "I Can't Wake Up")

Mr. THOMPSON: (Singing) In my nightmare everything's wrong. I'm waiting for love, but you come along. You smile, you wave, you kiss me, ciao. But you seem too happy to see me somehow. And then the sky falls in on my head. Your nails grow long, your eyes turn red. You say forever dear and a day. You swear that you're never going to go away. And my feet won't move to run the other way.

And I can't wake up to save my life. Oh I can't wake up to save my life. In my nightmare you forgive me. The cruelest gift you could ever give me. You say that you understand me now. Your eyes say, brother, I'll get you somehow. And then the lightning streaks across the room. You smell like something fresh from the tomb. You squeeze too hard, you insist on kissing. When it seems like half your face is missing. And your hairs turned into reptiles hissing.

And I can't wake up to save my life. Oh I can't wake up to save my life, oh. Things I done make my dreams go bad. Like Borstal boys coming home to Dad. What you reap so shall you sow. So feet don't fail me. Go man go.

I can't wake up to say save my life. No I can't wake up to save my life. No I can't wake up. No, I can't wake up. No I can't, ooh.

GROSS: Great. Is there a story behind the song?

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. THOMPSON: That's just, you know, just a story.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. THOMPSON: It's just a dream, you know.

GROSS: A bad dream.

Mr. THOMPSON: A bad dream. I suppose it's a kind of, it's a, I suppose a classic putdown song, really. It's, you know.

GROSS: There's something I want to quote here. Can I ask you to quote the line? This is from "The Way That It Shows." I just think it's a particularly well written couple of lines here. Can you quote the first few lines?

Mr. THOMPSON: Oh that one. Going to give yourself away to some Casanova on the spills and stains of a backstage sofa. He'll catch you yawning with one leg over. Is that enough?

GROSS: Yeah. I think that's really great writing. I mean I think...

Mr. THOMPSON: Casanova - over. Well, at that point I was, the rhyme scheme was getting desperate. I was running out of possibilities.

(Soundbite of laughter)

GROSS: I'm not even thinking about the rhyme but the spills and the stains on the couch. I thought that was really nice. Did you...

Mr. THOMPSON: I was actually thinking of a backstage in Philadelphia.

GROSS: Oh really?

Mr. THOMPSON: I can't remember what the place is called, a really sort of rundown rock 'n' roll theater. It's got the smelliest couch I ever seen in my life.

GROSS: Hmm.

Mr. THOMPSON: You know, you can sort of smell the sort of improvised sex oozing off this couch.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. THOMPSON: It's quite disturbing.

GROSS: Now, who are the songwriters you admire? And did you ever go through a period of trying to write in the manner of different songwriters like you went through a period of trying to play in the style of different guitarists?

Mr. THOMPSON: Yeah. I think it's a great exercise. I still do it. You know, I still think, well, you know, here's a songwriter who, you know, has a great kind of flow or something. You know, why don't I try and write a song in that style? You know, I still do that. But you know, early on I was listening to -well, I just think, it's - you know, people like The Everly Brothers and, you know, Phil Ochs and Richard Farina. And I have always been influenced by Scottish ballads, I think that's probably the richest place you can find songs because they're just so good and they're so stunningly, you know, succinct.

GROSS: And they tell full stories.

Mr. THOMPSON: There, you know, there is so much in a verse and it's so beautifully pared down over the centuries, just wonderful stuff. So that, you know, that's a big influence. And some of the Scottish, you know, writers like, you know, Carolina Oliphant and Burns, you know, Burns Walter Scott.

GROSS: Can I ask you to play a chorus of one of your songs that you feel is specially influenced by traditional Scottish ballads?

Mr. THOMPSON: Phew, gosh. Okay…

(Soundbite of song)

Mr. THOMPSON: (Singing) Oh you speak the words locked in my brain, but it's left me, let an old man rest, one more block in time, on the barricades to keep me safe from loving.

Mr. THOMPSON: And it goes on. But in terms of, you know, the verse structure, you know, word usage, word repetition…

GROSS: Mm-hmm.

Mr. THOMPSON: …blah, blah, blah, you know, and tune, I mean, it's very…

GROSS: And the way you sang it.

Mr. THOMPSON: Very Scottish. Yeah.

GROSS: Yeah. I've really just so enjoyed the concert. I'm so thrilled we were able to do this. I want to thank you very, very much.

Mr. THOMPSON: I'm very grateful you have me. Thank you.

GROSS: Would you like to close with another song from…

Mr. THOMPSON: Sure.

GROSS: …the new album or if you prefer something earlier or…

Mr. THOMPSON: Yeah, I can do something earlier.

GROSS: Yeah, great.

Mr. THOMPSON: Yeah. What would you like?

GROSS: Want to do "Feel So Good?"

Mr. THOMPSON: Okay.

GROSS: Yeah, why don't you do "Feel So Good."

(Soundbite of music)

GROSS: This is from a previous album, from a couple of years ago, called "Rumor and Sigh."

Mr. THOMPSON: It is indeed, yes. Here we go…

(Soundbite of song, "I Feel So Good")

Mr. THOMPSON: (Singing) I feel so good I'm going to break somebody's heart tonight. I feel so good I'm going to take someone apart tonight. They put me in jail for my deviant ways. Two years, seven months and sixteen days. Now back on the street in a purple haze. And I feel so good. I feel so good. I feel so good I'm going to break somebody's heart tonight. I feel so good I'm going to make somebody's day tonight. I feel so good I'm going to make somebody pay tonight. I'm old enough to sin but I'm too young to vote. Society's been dragging on the tail of my coat. But I've got a suitcase full of fifty pound notes. And a half-naked woman with her tongue down my throat.

And I feel so good. And I feel so good. I feel so good I'm going to break somebody's heart tonight. They made me pay for the things I've done. Now it's my turn to have all the fun. I feel so good I'm going to break somebody's heart tonight. And I feel so good. And I feel so good. I feel so good I'm going to break somebody's heart tonight. Oh oh oh, I feel so good I'm going to break somebody's heart tonight. Break somebody's heart. Break somebody's heart. Break somebody's heart.

BIANCULLI: Richard Thompson from a 1994 FRESH AIR performance. That last song is one of the 71 tracks featured on his new box set, "Walking on a Wire." The FRESH AIR performance was recorded by Audrey Bentham.

This is FRESH AIR.

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