Richard Thompson seems to put out a live album every year and being a sucker for his clever songwriting and maximal guitar playing, I usually lap it up all the same.
The former founding member of that seminal British folk-rock group Fairport Convention, Thompson has not only been a part of the history of that genre, he is the history. Very few has blended Celtic folk forms and the Beatles better, and having a witty pen, a wicked guitar picking technique and a sincere warble has all helped to make him both an enduring and endearing figure on the scene.
So anyway, I was listening to one of Richard’s “official” boots the other day, and in the middle of the set he plays a classic tune of his I haven’t heard for a few years: “Dimming Of The Day.” Wow, I had to go back and listen to the original again.
At the time he first recorded the song back in 1975, he had yet another compelling reason to listen to his music: his wife Linda. Linda Thompson possessed a rich, angelic voice that was only surpassed by Sandy Denny (barely) among female British folk-rock singers. Linda, incidentally, just released a rare album by her, Versatile Heart, and on it she’s still in fine form. But her pipes three decades ago were simply sublime.
Which is one of the reasons why I love the Richard & Linda rendition of “Dimming.” It’s one of quiet yearning for a lover at night, and Richard’s lyrics are poet laureate quality:
This old house is falling down around my ears
I’m drowning in a river of my tears
When all my will is gone you hold me sway
I need you at the dimming of the day
You pull me like the moon pulls on the tide
You know just where I keep my better side
Meanwhile, Linda’s deeply moving vocal backed lightly by Richard’s acoustic guitar, banjo and barely perceptible accordion gives the song that quietly majestic lift that sends it into the “deeply beautiful” stratosphere. It was already a very good song, but the execution made it a great one.
Anyone who had picked up the soundtrack from “Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood” movie from five years ago will find this track on there and no doubt it’s appearance in that CD opened up many new ears to it. But if you haven’t, well, there’s a live version embedded above, performed on tour in 1982 not long before this most talented of husband-and-wife musical duos sadly split up.