Saturday, August 2, 2014

Richard Thompson - 1952 Vincent Black Lightning

Image via the Wik
It's said that the hill music of the Appalachia Scots-Irish is the Ur-Country music.  But they brought that music over from the old country - the British Isles.  The similarities between English, Scottish, and especially Irish folk music to this hill music shows that the styles have only diverged a short time ago in historical terms.  The all share common tropes, especially stories that tell a tale and music that allows a display of the performer's virtuosity.

And they're all being played today, and new music is being written in these styles today.

Richard Thompson is an English singer/songwriter whose muse hails from so close to the Ur-taproot of music that his songs have been covered by R.E.M., Bonnie Raitt, Elvis Costello, Nanci Griffith, The Pointer Sisters, and Los Lobos.  Today's song is an acoustic rendering of a story with a motorcycle, a shotgun, and a grieving girlfriend.  If that ain't Country music, then it should be.

1952 Vincent Black Lightning  (Songwriter: Richard Thompson)
Oh says Red Molly to James “That’s a fine motorbike.
A girl could feel special on any such like”
Says James to Red Molly “My hat’s off to you
It’s a Vincent Black Lightning, 1952.
And I’ve seen you at the corners and cafes it seems
Red hair and black leather, my favourite colour scheme”
And he pulled her on behind and down to Boxhill they did ride

Oh says James to Red Molly “Here’s a ring for your right hand
But I’ll tell you in earnest I’m a dangerous man.
For I’ve fought with the law since I was seventeen,
I robbed many a man to get my Vincent machine.
Now I’m 21 years, I might make 22
And I don’t mind dying, but for the love of you.
And if fate should break my stride
Then I’ll give you my Vincent to ride”

“Come down, come down, Red Molly” called Sergeant McRae
“For they’ve taken young James Adie for armed robbery.
Shotgun blast hit his chest, left nothing inside.
Oh come down, Red Molly to his dying bedside”
When she came to the hospital, there wasn’t much left
He was running out of road, he was running out of breath
But he smiled to see her cry
He said “I’ll give you my Vincent to ride”

Says James “In my opinion, there’s nothing in this world
Beats a 52 Vincent and a red headed girl.
Now Nortons and Indians and Greeves won’t do,
Ah, they don’t have a soul like a Vincent 52”
Oh he reached for her hand and he slipped her the keys
Said “I’ve got no further use for these.
I see angels on Ariels in leather and chrome,
Swooping down from heaven to carry me home”
And he gave her one last kiss and died
And he gave her his Vincent to ride
Nothing in this world beats a 52 Vincent and a red headed girl.  Yeah, baby.


Old NFO said...

Yep, one helluva song, harkens back to the highwaymen of England too...

Rabbit said...

Yep. Great song, great bike.