The Austin Chronicle

Richard's Rules of Order

By Margaret Moser, October 7, 2010, 12:37pm, Earache!

Here are a few more quotes from Thompson's ACL interview:

“It’s different but it’s not difficult to go from writing a murder ballad like ‘Sidney Wells’ to another song like ‘Stumble On.’ It’s a nice thing to write a very personal song and then say, ‘I’ll write a story off the top of my head.’"

"It’s nice to have a range where you’re not just obsessing about yourself and your own dilemma. You’re also a fiction writer and you can write about anything you can dream up."

“In [choosing a song like Britney Spears’] ‘Oops, I Did It Again,’ I sing it in concert and I leave a hole for the audience to sing the verse. Sometimes, it’s a sea of nothingness, there’s not much coming back – silence. Since then, [my audience has] learned my version of it and don’t know Britney’s. In most audiences, the young people know it and will sing along but now there is a larger one that knows it. It’s been a slow, difficult process to get people to relate to this song." [laughs]

“But it is a good song, if you strip away Britney’s version, which I quite like – it’s very bombastic and dance-oriented – to the bare bones. It’s a good song, very well-constructed. The lyrics are good, the melody is interesting, the chords are interesting, and it’s nice to reveal that.”

“Choosing songs for festival sets, usually you have a shorter set – 45 minutes or an hour maximum – so you select what you think is your strongest music. You have to grab people’s attention much more. You’re out of doors, people could be plane-spotting or staring at their shoes or distracted by other stages, wonderful food concessions, buying a tie-dyed t-shirt, all these things going on. You have to crank up the energy level a little bit at a festival and keep it up. You can’t do too many slow songs … but that’s not a rule. If people are really listening, you can do whatever you want.”

“One of the things you are looking for as a performer is how the audience reacts, and every audience is different. You can figure out a set you think you can play and when you get onstage, you think, ‘This is wrong, I have to do something different.’ I actually do that most nights – I write a set and then don’t play it."

Margaret Moser: “That’ll be me yelling for ‘Oops, I Did It Again’ out there at ACL.”

Richard Thompson: “Okay, that’ll be me ignoring you.”

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