COMMENTS: For a song of this message to make the list must really indicate some high songcraft, for I am theoretically not philosophically sympathetic.  My high level of permissiveness is (hopefully) balanced by expecting people to accept the responsibility to take care of themselves.  I usually have little tolerance for whining drunks, and I am not a Doors fan.  As Elvis Costello phrased it so succintly, "this battle with the bottle is nothing so novel."  Well, this particular battle with the bottle actually is.

The tune is a very slow waltz.  It is sad, yet insistently dignified and proud - nay quietly arrogant.  He soars to melancholic highs as he denounces the empty comforts of the middle class.  "Does God really caaare for your life in the suburrrrrrrbs?"  

This is one of the most utterly elegant songs in rock history.  The melody flows so natural and unaffected, so pure and strong.  The notes were put together so naturally that they sound like something that must have been around a long time, though this is in fact something Thompson just wrote in the last few years.

The words also are elegant, and eloquent as well.  He presents a whole philosophical viewpoint in a few dozen words, casting a common  presumably homeless alcoholic as the truly spiritual one among us.  He is sparing no details in order to make it seem romantic either, describing his withdrawal symptoms and incontinence.  He is in the throes of withdrawal, seeking money for a pint to stop the DTs.  "He screams at his demons alone in the darkness.  He's staying alive for just one more pint bottle."

Wonder what George Jones would sound like singing this?


Richard Thompson on stage


DVD Review: Tony Palmer's Film of Fairport Convention & Matthews Southern Comfort


Holla Back!

Richard Thompson

Music Sustains the Soul

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