Richard Thompson

Gee whiz, but hes good

Thompson is able to lead a normal life, grouting his kitchen and coaching his son's soccer team, but he also has a disproportionate number of avid fans, some of whose devotion veers toward worship. There's no counting the number of websites devoted to him these days. While Thompson once struck me as being justifiably guarded about his private life and his craft, he cooperated in an exceptionally revealing and excellent biography a few years back (Richard Thompsonby Patrick Humphries, Schirmer Books), and these days, he has taken to fielding fans' questions directly on the Internet (presently at people.zeelandnet.nl/flipfeij/index.html, though he promises to have his own site up sometime before 2025). He's even weighed in on the question of whether he wears boxers or briefs. I know you need to know, so his response, in part: "Leading an active life, I find I need a little more restraint for the old tackle, so I plump for the brief, the longer-legged version."

"I'm not necessarily telling the truth," he cautioned on the phone. "There's a part of me that wishes I'd never said one single solitary word on any subject publicly. Then I could have been the tortured poet, and there's so much mileage in that. But it's too late to stop now. And if I do press interviews, it would seem churlish not to do Internet interviews for the people who care directly about music. On the whole, I'm gratified that they're so supportive, understanding and interested in the music. There are a few people who crave life details, and I'm happy to deflect those as much as possible."

As the world turns ever nuttier, does Thompson feel artists have some role to play in sorting things out for people?

"I don't particularly know if we're supposed to sort things out," he says. "As an artist, I think you have a job to reflect society, what people are thinking, and what they are nearly thinking. The last one is the most important—to get slightly underneath people's consciousness, to those unexpressed thoughts."

Richard Thompson performs at the Irvine Barclay Theatre, 4242 Campus Dr., Irvine, (949) 854-4646. Sat., 8 p.m. $27-$33. All ages.
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