Thursday, February 17, 2011

Guitar Workshop: Richard Thompson

We were doing research for our recent piece on the Grammys, when we came across some archival video footage of past award ceremonies. This included a number of interviews and workshops, including several clips of one conducted with British singer-songwriter Richard Thompson, rated by Rolling Stone magazine as one of the top twenty guitarists of all time.

We have him here doing "Wall of Death," written during the years he was part of a duo with ex-wife Linda Thompson (1973-82). He is shown performing in this undated clip (probably the 1980s) with Manx singer-songwriter Christine Collister. Notice how Thompson switches from the folk-rock triplet style similar to Roger McGuinn (whose work we highlighted last December), to a screaming lead sound, with a unique tone that has become his signature.

In the next clip, he outdoes Britney Spears, which, as one YouTube commenter points out, "just shows that a good song performed by a real musician can rise above it's original limitations." Most of Thompson's original material deals with the dark and seedy side of life, the stuff of shady characters lurking in dark alleys and so forth, which only proves that, in the end, he's "not that innocent."

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