A look at the early years of Richard Thompson, one of the world's most influential guitarists and songwriters, following the formation of his band Fairport Convention, his revival of British folk traditions, and his journey through Sufism-all before the age of 26.
Musician Richard Thompson mentions a lot of names in his new memoir, but you never get the feeling that he's name dropping ... More than a typical celebrity memoir, Beeswing is thoughtful, well written and at times very funny. Thompson writes with real grief about the horrendous car crash that killed two people as the band was returning from a gig, and he talks frankly about how that accident affected him for years ... He's a generous memoirist, giving credit to musicians who influenced him and downplaying his own remarkable skills ... With his sophisticated songs and distinctive guitar work, Thompson, 72, has long been the thinking person's musician. Turns out he's also the thinking person's memoirist.
The balancing act of major and minor, strung together by his witty, self-deprecating banter, is the crux of Mr. Thompson’s shows, and that same equipoise between dirge and ditty is the hallmark of Beeswing: It’s everything you’d hope a Richard Thompson autobiography would be, and nothing you’d fear. He is honest and opinionated, forthcoming about both his technique and creative process, but discreet ... Yet he can be bracing with regard to himself ... There are some memorable anecdotes and some quality jokes ... both major and minor, dirge and ditty, light on its feet but packing a punch: like the very best Richard Thompson show.
... wry, un-ponderous, anti-obligatory. Because the sound Thompson created with Fairport was rooted in centuries-old songs, he isn’t captive to ’60s clichés; and because British electric folk is off the classic-rock grid — as he ruefully observes, 'The niche remained a niche' — the book’s period accent makes it feel fresh and exploratory.