Songwriter Session: Richard Thompson

SXSW Panel Reviews

Songwriter Session: Richard Thompson
by Gary Miller

Songwriter Session: Richard Thompson

Austin Convention Center, Friday, March 15

No less an authority than Elvis Costello calls Richard Thompson the greatest songwriter Britain has ever produced. Hearing him delve into the details of his craft, his trusty Lowden by his side, only reinforced that sentiment. Thompson spoke about his early inspirations – jazz, Scottish dance records, early rock & roll, the Shadows – and how he wanted to avoid the blues-oriented direction of his Sixties peers by reconnecting Britain with its native music via Fairport Convention. Thompson addressed almost every aspect of songwriting: music or lyrics first, self-discipline, observational writing vs. confessional, prerecording prep, even songs he wished he'd written (Bob Dylan's "Tangled Up in Blue"). He also performed "Cold Kisses," "Snow Goose," and a riveting "1952 Vincent Black Lightning" as examples. Most incisively, he demonstrated the way his guitar virtuosity shapes his writing, and extolled the editing process. "What you leave out and suggest is very important," he noted. "You're trying to tell a story. Whatever you can suggest about what happened before can be a very strong feature of the song." He summed up the songwriter's outlook thusly: "If the world was flat, and you're the artist, you're on the rim where you can peek over the edge at the abyss. You're just off to the side enough to comment."

Keep up with all our SXSW coverage at austinchronicle.com/sxsw. Sign up for our South-by-specific newsletter at austinchronicle.com/newsletters/ for news, reviews, and previews delivered to your inbox every day of the Fest. And for the latest Tweets, follow @ChronSXSW.

READ MORE
More Music Reviews
SXSW Wednesday Record Reviews
Pegi Young & the Survivors
Raw (Record Review)

Jim Caligiuri, March 17, 2017

SXSW Wednesday Record Reviews
Vagabon
Infinite Worlds (Record Review)

Libby Webster, March 17, 2017

More by Michael Toland
SXSW Music Live: Mastodon
SXSW Music Live: Mastodon
Brutally efficient as equally heavy

March 18, 2017

SXSW Music Live: Reverberation Appreciation Society Showcase
SXSW Music Live: Reverberation Appreciation Society Showcase
ATX viral synth wave stars Survive levitate

March 17, 2017

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
AC Daily, Events and Promotions, Luvdoc Answers

Breaking news, recommended events, and more

Official Chronicle events, promotions, and giveaways

Updates for SXSW 2017

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)