Subtitled ‘Fairport, Folk Rock and Finding My Voice 1967-75’, this is a book that really does what it says on the tin. By that, I mean it takes an in depth look at the author’s life over arguably his most fertile period creatively, namely the Fairport years and the records he made with his then wife Linda. The book begins with a brief look at his early years before moving on to meeting his future band mates and their adventures on the road and in the recording studio as they brought folk rock firmly into the public eye with their modernising of traditional songs and sounds. Thompson comes across as a pleasant, self-effacing sort of guy, who modestly underplays his own composing and playing talents, which were a huge part of the band’s sound. For someone who is such an accomplished wordsmith, he is sometimes a little reticent, but the best writing here is on those no longer with us, notably Sandy Denny and Dave Swarbrick, and of course drummer Martin Lamble and girlfriend Jeannie Franklyn, both tragically killed in a road accident in 1969, the occurrence and aftermath of which is movingly yet precisely described. The other focal point of this autobiographical narrative revolves around his meeting future wife Linda, the records they made together and their (although seemingly mainly his) ill-fated interest and foray into Sufism and its attendant philosophy and lifestyle. The author appears to be an easy going, rather happy go lucky character, who doesn’t let too many things worry him in life, and who still has a great love for the folk scene and playing live. He seems happy to accept that he was not particularly on the radar of the public at large even in those years of his biggest successes, despite his undoubted lyric writing and guitar playing prowess, but nevertheless appears content with the hand he was dealt and the accolades he received from his loyal fanbase. This is undoubtedly an enjoyable read, but at the same time a rather frustrating one at times, in that it skips rather too briefly for my liking over some key topics. The book is only 250 pages long (including two sets of appendices), whereas I was hoping for something considerably lengthier with a lot more detail on the recording of the classic albums he played on in this period. Reading between the lines, and I could be wrong here, I get the feeling this is a one off volume, but who knows, perhaps a sequel will emerge one day. Nevertheless, this is an entertaining read with much to offer to fans of the man and his music.
Length of Read:Medium
Might appeal to people who enjoyed…
Fairport, RT, folk rock
One thing you’ve learned
The original premise for this memoir was the idea of writer and friend Scott Timberg, who sadly passed away during its long gestation. The book stands as a memorial to him.