Thursday 5 February 2009

Richard Thompson: How To Combat Motion Sickness

I interviewed Richard Thompson the other day for the Guardian and Observer, who are putting together a series of themed supplements on music: Love Songs, Political Songs, etc. Richard was chatting about Life & Death, and naturally we revisited some of the topics we discussed when I interviewed him for I Shot a Man in Reno (he must think I’m an unusually morbid guy: ‘Hey, let’s talk about death again!’ 'Errr, great.')

Anyway, one song we discussed was "Just The Motion", which appeared on his knockout 1982 album Shoot out the Lights. The song depicts life as a journey upon a constantly restless sea, with no haven or harbour to be found. Here’s a short sample of the exchange:

RT: Life is surfaces and you’re subject to the storms and waves and ripples and all this disturbance; all the inconstancy. You have to dive down deep inside yourself where there’s a calmness and things don’t change. That’s what the song is about.

GT: There’s a real ambiguity in the lyrics: “Cause under the ocean at the bottom of the sea/ You can’t hear the storm, it’s as peaceful as can be.” It sounds suspiciously like drowning.

RT: Well, perhaps you have to drown – perhaps the answer to life is to drown.

Brilliant. You don't get these kinds of answers from Lily Allen, do you? The song is sung by Linda on the album, but here’s some footage I’ve never seen before of Richard performing the song solo. It’s extraordinary.

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