Richard & Linda Thompson (YGtCTO Music #34)

Shoot Out the Lights

Album by Richard and Linda Thompson

How many parties or gatherings at someone’s house have you been at where somebody started a bunch of music playing? I remember a relative stranger berating me one night because he could not find the right Talking Heads song among the various albums of my housemates and me.

But if you really want to throw a damper on a gathering of couples, just pop Shoot Out the Lights in the old CD player. As the next little while meanders past, note the eyes shifting to the side and a few head tilts. People look around to see if they heard correctly.

Then, for the pièce de résistance, start talking about the music that everyone has been hearing. If you’re me, then you make the mistake of thinking that people like the music. Talk about how Richard and Linda Thompson made the album while going through a divorce- after all, that seems obvious doesn’t it. It is a concept album, in a way… Isn’t that cool? Sure, the coats are in here. What’s your hurry? Is there any other pop rock album that carries such emotional impact?

Richard Linda Thompson

I still find the music on here exhilarating. And I am married to a very tolerant woman who took me to see Richard Thompson for our anniversary many moons ago. Come to think of it, that may have been a little like airplane proofing your house by having an airplane hit it.

Wall of Death serves that purpose for me in life. When facing those periodic challenges that seem insurmountable, sooner or later, this gets into my ears. Any artist that can remind you that life is about the uphill climbs and dodging a few knives while you’re at it… As we all know, bravery is not acting when you think you can succeed, but rather when you are shaking down to your boot heels. And this song reminds of that fact when I need it most.

I love the rest of the songs, but honestly the elephant in the room is Did She Jump Or Was She Pushed, which pretty much freaks people out. I get that… but really? People can go see any number of horror films, but this song… is just incredible. It makes the horror personal in a way that a thousand slasher flicks do not. As an important caveat, you do not want to blast this while pulling into the supermarket parking lot, especially if you are singing along loudly and off key.

I don’t comment on album covers nearly often enough, but I find something viscerally appealing here. The fact that Linda appears in the photo and Richard looks wrecked on the ground just captures the essence of the album perfectly. A lot of cool pictures grace record covers, but few represent the contents, a trait shared with so many books. That’s okay, but it’s nice when the designer gets in on the act, too.

And the first one hundred are done!

What’s it all about?

You’ve Got to Check This Out is a blog series about music, words, and all sorts of artistic matters. It started with an explanation. 200 more to go.

New additions to You’ve Got to Check This Out release regularly. Also, free humor, short works, and poetry post irregularly. Receive notifications on Facebook by friending or following Craig.

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