The Argotist Online
in London, Linda Thompson is a British singer/songwriter who became one of the
most recognised names in the British folk rock movement of the 1970s and 1980s,
initially in collaboration with her former husband and fellow British folk rock
artist Richard Thompson, and later, as a solo artist.
1967, she changed her name to Linda Peters and sang in London folk clubs
alongside performers such as Martin Carthy, Sandy Denny, Richard Thompson, John
Martyn and Nick Drake. In 1972, as one half of “Paul and Linda”, with Paul
McNeill, she recorded the Bob Dylan song ‘You Ain't Going Nowhere’, which
was released by MGM as a single. Also in that year she was invited to join The
Bunch, a loose affiliation of folk rock luminaries including former Fairport
Convention members Sandy Denny, Richard Thompson and Ashley Hutchings. As The
Bunch, they recorded an album of 1950s rock and roll classics called Rock On.
this period she married Richard Thompson, and in 1974 their first album together
was released, I Want To See The Bright Lights Tonight. Recognising
the quality of Linda’s singing, Richard wrote many of the album’s songs for
her, such as ‘Withered and Died’, ‘Dimming of the Day’, Walking on a
Wire’, ‘For Shame of Doing Wrong’ and ‘A Heart Needs a Home’.
next two albums, Hokey Pokey and Pour Down Like Silver, were both
released in 1975. Soon after this they both decided to take a break from music
business and moved to a Sufi commune in East Anglia. In 1982, their third album,
Shoot Out the Lights was released and was a critical and commercial
success. In 1989, it was ranked number 9 on Rolling Stone magazine's list
of the 100 greatest albums of the 1980s. In 2003, it was was ranked number 333
on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.
1985, Linda’s first solo album, One Clear Moment, was released.
It included seven of her compositions. One of them, ‘Telling Me Lies’
(co-written with Betsy Cook) was nominated for a Grammy in the Best Country Song
1989, her singing voice became affected by the condition known as hysterical
dysphonia, which was at that time unresponsive to medical or psychological
treatment. Because of this, singing was impossible and her performing career had
to be put on hold. During this
hiatus, she raised her children, travelled the world with her husband, became a
partner in an antique jewellery business in Bond Street, did studio and theatre
work, and enjoyed some success as a songwriter.
2002, with her dysphonia under control (due to botox injections to her vocal
chords) she made a remarkable return to form with the release of a new album, Fashionably
Late, which was critically acclaimed. In 2007, her next album Versatile
Heart was released to similarly glowing reviews, and in 2008 was nominated
for a South Bank Show Award.
Do you think of your lyrics as poetry?
Byron, Robert Lowell or Andrew Motion … no. I’d have to learn a lot more
about metre for a start.
you think it is important that songs rhyme and if so why?
don't think so, though I seem to be constitutionally unable to come up with free
aforesaid, I’m a bit of a conformist; but, as a folk musician, hooks and
refrains don't really impinge on my work. If they did, I’d be in grave danger
of making money.
When you read poetry in school or elsewhere did you recognize any connection to
the music you enjoyed?
No, not really. At my school we sang the occasional Shakespeare sonnet,
and, as it was Scotland Rabbie Burns. Actually, ‘Ae Fond Kiss’ is a great
poem and a great song, that's rare. Anyhow, I think poetry and lyric writing
employ different muscles. I wish i could write poetry. I’d love to be dressed
in floppy bows and all consumptive!
Absolutely. All aspiring songwriters should read poetry, so much to steal. You
can't write if you don't read.
Duh. Melodies get inside people's heads and hearts like nobody's business…
© Linda Thompson