I Want to See the Bright Lights Tonight album cover

Richard and Linda Thompson, I Want to See the Bright Lights Tonight

Island, 1974, folk rock

B, 1966: I know some of Richard Thompson’s later solo work, but had never listened to this record with his former partner Linda (a successful solo artist in her own right). Overall a good folk rock record that I enjoyed, though not necessarily a stand-out. Song: “The End Of The Rainbow”, a song to listen to if you are feeling just a little too good.

C, 2002: Great great album. Love everything about it. From the songs to the drum tones (I’m a drummer, cut me some slack). Great sounding album and I like the raw yet produced vibe of it. The title song is great but I’ll tip my hat to both “The Calvary Cross” and “Down where the drunkards roll”.

H, 1951: I’ve been a Richard Thompson fan for decades. He’s been one of the most consistently interesting and intelligent guitarists and songwriters in rock during this entire time. If you’re not familiar with him, this story may help you understand his perspective: in 1999, Playboy magazine asked Thompson, as well as many other music industry figures, for their suggestions for the “top ten songs of the millennium.” Although Thompson well understood that the magazine was expecting a list of songs from the last fifty years, or at most the last century, Thompson happily responded with a list of songs that started in the in the 11th century, and later expanded the list into a traveling show titled 1000 Years of Popular Music. So when you listen to Thompson, you’re hearing music informed by hundreds of years of cultural traditions, rather than something reflecting the latest trends of the current day. Thompson’s music also reflects the sorrow and dread at the core of much of both English and American folk and country traditions, and both emotions are on full display here. So when Richard and Linda sing the following words in the title song, this is about as upbeat as it gets: “A couple of drunken nights rolling on the floor / Is just the kind of mess I’m looking for / I’m gonna dream ’till Monday comes in sight / I want to see the bright lights tonight.” BTW, you can definitely hear echoes of this album in some of the music of The Decemberists.

Published 19 Sep 2019

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