The Best Songs: 1952 Vincent Black Lightning by Richard Thompson

A simple boy meets girl story, somewhat complicated by the presence of a motorcycle
– Richard Thompson

1952 Vincent Black Lightning is a song by guitarist Richard Thompson from his 1991 album Rumor and Sigh. It tells the story of a thief named James and the girl Red Molly whom he charms with a ride on his 1952 Vincent Black Lightning motorcycle. Despite not being issued as a single, became a fan favourite and is one of Thompson’s most highly acclaimed solo compositions.

Some months ago me and some friends had a “music night”. Music Nights are gatherings where we pick a theme and each of us bring a playlist with 5 songs (and a few back up choices), we play our songs in turn, say why we picked the song and what it means to us. I’ve discovered many great songs and artists on these nights. This particular night the theme was “Story Songs” and one of my songs was 1952 Vincent Black Lightning by the great Richard Thompson. This made me listen, and “go into” the song even harder than I’d done before. What a great story song it is, a masterpiece.

“’Vincent’ started with the frustration of coming from Britain and wanting to reflect British culture. It’s hard to find mythological elements from my lifetime to build a song around, because American culture has been so dominant. The mythical places are Laramie and Cheyenne. ‘Going Back to Lancaster’ doesn’t have the same ring to it. It’s important to make music that incorporates elements from where you come from, so you’re contributing something of yourself into the music. If you’re from England and you’re writing about the Mississippi Delta, there’s something missing. You can be a good imitator, but what are you bringing to the process?”
– Richard Thompson, 2001

“When I was a kid, that was always the exotic bike, that was always the one, the one that you went ‘ooh, wow’. I’d always been looking for English ideas that didn’t sound corny, that had some romance to them, and around which you could pin a song. And this song started with a motorcycle, it started with the Vincent. It was a good lodestone around which the song could revolve”
– Richard Thompson to BBC radio

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September 30: Tom Waits Released Rain Dogs in 1985

We sail tonight for Singapore
Don’t fall asleep while you’re ashore
Cross your heart and hope to die
When you hear the children cry
Let marrow bone and cleaver choose
While making feet for children’s shoes
Through the alley
Back from Hell
When you hear that steeple bell
You must say goodbye to me
~Tom Waits (Singapore)

If you get far enough away you’ll be on your way back home.
~Tom Waiys – “Blind Love”

Tango till they’re sore @ San Remo 1986:

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Jerry Lee Lewis Sings Bob Dylan, Charlie Rich and Kris Kristofferson – Happy Birthday Killer (born September 29, 1935)

Rock and roll made you oblivious to the fear, busted down the barriers that race and religion, ideologies put up. We lived under a death cloud; the air was radioactive. There was no tomorrow, any day it could all be over, life was cheap… Jerry Lee Lewis came in like a streaking comet from some far away galaxy. Rock and roll was atomic powered, all zoom and doom. It didn’t seem like an extension of anything but it probably was.
-Bob Dylan (to Bill Flanagan, 2017)

Jerry Lee Lewis (born September 29, 1935) is an American singer-songwriter, musician, and pianist, often known by his nickname, The Killer. He has been described as “rock & roll’s first great wild man.”

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Classic concert: Van Morrison The Wonderland Tapes June 22, 1977, NL (video and audio)

For years the best known set of Van’s brief collaboration with Dr. John in 1977 has widely circulated only in incomplete form and mediocre sound on a bootleg known as Amsterdam’s Tapes. Now, thanks to the persistence, dedication and collaboration of VLS (vanlose stairway) members and friends, this rare show has finally been assembled from the best sources available to us, complete as broadcast on Dutch FM radio. After 20+ years, we are sure fans will agree that it is about time!

Musicians:
Van Morrison: Lead vocals, piano
Dr. John: Piano, organ, back-up vocals
Mick Ronson: Lead guitar, back-up vocals
Mo Foster: Bass
Peter van Hooke: Drums

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September 26: Abbey Road by The Beatles is 50 years old today!

beatles abbey road

Released 26 September 1969
Recorded 22 February – 20 August 1969,EMI, Olympic and Trident Studios,London
Genre Rock
Length 47:23
Label Apple
Producer George Martin


Abbey Road
 is the 11th studio album released by the English rock band The Beatles. It is their last recorded album, although Let It Be was the last album released before the band’s dissolution in 1970. Work on Abbey Road began in April 1969, and the album was released on 26 September 1969 in the United Kingdom, and 1 October 1969 in the United States.

Abbey Road is widely regarded as one of The Beatles’ most tightly constructed albums, although the band was barely operating as a functioning unit at the time. Despite the tensions within the band, Abbey Road was released to near universal acclaim and is considered to be one of the greatest albums of all time. In 2012, Abbey Road was voted 14th on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the “500 Greatest Albums of All Time”. In 2009, readers of the magazine also named Abbey Road the greatest Beatles album.

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BBC documentary: Elvis the Rebirth of the King (2017)

The widely accepted Elvis narrative is that the Vegas period was the nadir of his career, but this film argues that Elvis reached his peak both as a singer and performer in the first few years of his Vegas period. He became, in those short years, the greatest performer on earth. The film tracks this five-year renaissance with some of his key musical and artistic collaborators of the period, including the creator of his most memorable jumpsuits, to celebrate the greatest pop reinvention of all time. (BBC) Continue reading “BBC documentary: Elvis the Rebirth of the King (2017)”