Richard Thompson's famous fans choose their favourite songs

Admirers from Robert Plant to Rachel Unthank pick the tracks from the master songwriter that mean most to them

Robert Plant

How Will I Ever Be Simple Again?
from
Daring Adventures (1986)
“Richard’s frenetic, beautiful guitar style freed British music in the 60s from the slog of the blues. He melded his influences so impressively to history. This song speaks to me about my life, surveying myself from above and below. Richard, if you’re reading, we’ll have to stop not meeting like this.”

Shirley Collins

A Heart Needs a Home
from
Hokey Pokey (1975)
“Richard’s still extraordinary, such a bold and muscular presence on stage, and his voice is still gorgeous. I played this again and again when Ashley [Hutchings] and I broke up. It helped me heal.”

Hugh Cornwell

Meet on the Ledge
from
What We Did On Our Holidays (1969)
“The ledge was a limb of a tree on Hampstead Heath. I remember hearing this on the radio for the first time, that special meaning came through.”

Carrie Brownstein

Hokey Pokey
from
Hokey Pokey (1975)
“I love the double entendre in the lyrics, the hint of darkness in the words contrasting with the music-hall feel of the tune. A good songwriter leaves you neither here nor there but someplace new, searching for more.”

David Byrne

The Calvary Cross (live)
from
I Want to See the Bright Lights Tonight (1974)
“Brian Eno recommended this, which led me down a rabbit hole. It’s ominous, full of dark portents. [On playing live with Richard in 1992] I remember trying to glean anything I could from a master writer and craftsman.”

Rachel Unthank

Has He Got a Friend for Me
from
I Want to See the Bright Lights Tonight (1974)
“A song about a girl desperate to meet someone, anyone. It’s not straightforward. It’s uncomfortable. Richard’s brilliant at capturing a moment and its emotion.”

Mark Ronson

I Want to See the Bright Lights Tonight
from
I Want to See the Bright Lights Tonight (1974)
“It’s just a perfect song. It starts with this drumbeat that just makes you want to get up. The vocals are really bratty, on the verge of punk-rock and folk. It’s been my wistful dance around the kitchen in lockdown on a Friday night, so I wanted to pay tribute to it.”

Linda Thompson

How I Wanted To
from
Hand of Kindness (1983)
[Its chorus runs: “Oh how I wanted to/ Oh how I wanted to/ To say I loved you”] “I chose this because it’s about me. Ha ha. Also, I love it.”

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