Sunday, April 25, 2021

Book: Beeswing: Losing My Way and Finding My Voice 1967-1975 by Richard Thompson (Algonquin Books, 2021)

Ironically, the song "Beeswing" was on the first album by Richard Thompson that I ever bought, 1994's Mirror Blue. Back in those paleolithic days, you read about music in magazines and then took chances on discs that sounded interesting. I fell for Thompson's mix of delicate folk, driving rock and amazing lyrics hard and have been following him ever sense. This autobiography follows his early years, growing up in post war England, learning the guitar and working through early bands until one coalesces, the soon to be legendary Fairport Convention. His life and work in Fairport takes up a good chunk of the narrative as the band moves from a rock unit to one that embraces the English and Scottish folk music tradition, incorporating that into a unique folk-rock, for a few years fronted by the great vocalist and more, Sandy Denny. Thompson stayed with Fairport for a few more years after Denny left, getting the chance to tour the USA, before he had his fill, leaving the band to become first an itinerant session musician and then beginning his solo career and starting a band with his wife Linda. Thompson goes at length into his conversion into Sufi Islam, and the effect it had on his life, leading him away from alcohol and to eventually taking the pilgrimage to Mecca, before falling out with some of the British leaders of the faith. The book ends rather abruptly, with a postscript giving a thumbnail version of his life post 1975, and an appendix that contains some song lyrics. For fans this is definitely worth picking up, he is an engaging writer, candid where necessary, and witty and thoughtful overall. Beeswing: Losing My Way and Finding My Voice 1967-1975 - amazon.com

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