Richard Thompson is the creative force at the heart of some of my all-time favorite records. I loved his electric-guitar playing on Fairport Convention's 1969 classic Unhalfbricking — it's a treasure of an album. But it was his solo record Henry the Human Fly and later his partnership with Linda Thompson when he shined brightest. His powerfully sad and expressive songwriting and fierce guitar playing are what hooked me. His music had the drone of Scottish music and the electricity of Neil Young.
Thompson recently released his 20th solo album, Dream Attic, which he recorded before an audience — a bold thing to do. You can hear me mention that to a packed office in this Tiny Desk Concert. When I mentioned how brave it was to do such a thing, Thompson quipped back, "And this isn't brave?" Thompson's music is infused with that sort of shrewd, hard-biting wit. You can hear it in "The Money Shuffle," here dedicated "to our good friends on Wall Street:"
"I love kittens and little babies," he sings. "Can't you see that's the guy I am / And your money is so safe with me / You never met such an honest man."
Whether he's dispensing an honest take on politics or on love, Thompson's heartfelt voice and that guitar have made him a vital artist with a songwriting future to go with his treasure trove of music from his past.
- "The Money Shuffle"
- "Stumble On"
- "Demons In Her Dancing Shoes"
Michael Katzif (camera); edited by Bob Boilen; photo by Abby Verbosky/NPR