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Monday, November 28, 2011

Withered and Died

Richard and Linda Thompson - Withered and Died (1974)

The book gives us three paragraphs of at least 4 sentences each. Only one of them is actually about the song. The rest is about the group, the drama surrounding them, and the rest of the album.

This sounds like an old English ballad; this version just the latest in a long line of people covering an old Child Ballad, this time with a hint of American country music. In fact it is an original song, written in 1973 by guitarist Richard Thompson. His wife Linda takes singing duties here, giving this brand new tune an air of timeless desperation. The tone of this song is so down, but her voice makes us long to hear a hope, a "better" ending. Alas, it is not to be. It is a very good, and very sad song.

Richard's guitar playing has some of that "twang" that we've come to associate with cowboy country and even has some slide guitar in the background. The solo in the middle of the song definitely has a country feel. The other distinctive instrument is the concertina. I suppose it could be an accordion, the liner notes list John Kirkpatrick as playing both instruments on the album, but it sounds high pitched to me, so I'm guessing concertina. In fact, Richard and Linda are both English, and this is considered to be an important album in the English folk rock genre. So set aside all your previously held assumptions about where the song came from, or what genre the song fits into. Just listen to it, enjoy it, and go have a good cry in your tea for a while.

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