Tuesday, March 30, 2010

"Walking on a Wire"

Ellen's mention of Catie Curtis and Lucy Kaplansky doing this Richard and Linda Thompson song together and our discussion in the comments section had me dig up this version of the song on YouTube.

The song is from Richard and Linda's final album together, Shoot Out the Lights, which was recorded in 1981 and released the following year. Several of the songs from the album are sometimes regarded as being about the couple's deteriorating relationship, and this one easily fits the category:
Where's the justice and where's the sense?
When all the pain is on my side of the fence
I'm walking on a wire, I'm walking on a wire
And I'm falling.
It scares you when you don't know
Whichever way the wind might blow
I'm walking on a wire, I'm walking on a wire
And I'm falling.
As several of the YouTube comments point out, this makes it a particularly painful video to watch -- Linda singing these lyrics that so accurately reflect her lot in life at the time with Richard having taken on a new lover in Nancy Covey.

Richard and Linda had been together for over 10 years, and the previous December -- after they had finished recording Shoot Out the Lights -- Richard embarked on a solo tour of the United States, his first performances in the States since the early 1970s. Nancy Covey was his road manager for that tour. Once back in the U.K., he told Linda that their marriage was over. But the couple were convinced to go on tour in the U.S. in order to promote the album.

According to Linda's Wikipedia entry, Simon Nicol described that summer 1982 tour as "like walking on a tightrope," and allegedly Linda would occasionally try and trip Richard up as he walked on stage.

Furthermore, according to the Wikipedia entry,
[T]heir record company arranged a mobile recording studio to record dates for a live album. The recording could not be arranged before the last date of the tour. The penultimate date of the tour was in Los Angeles (where Richard's new lover lived). Linda reportedly performed the greatest show of her life, then went to stay with her friend Linda Ronstadt. The tapes have never been released, although a version of "Walking On A Wire" from earlier in the tour is on the Free Reed "RT" boxed set.
The Shoot Out the Lights album was ranked #24 on Rolling Stone magazine's "100 Best Albums of the Last Twenty Years" (1987), #9 on Rolling Stone's "100 Greatest Albums of the 80's" (1989), and #333 on Rolling Stone's "500 Greatest Albums of All Time" (2003). It helped relaunch Richard's career -- now without Linda.


Stainless Steel Wire said...

Amazing! n 1987, Shoot Out the Lights was ranked #24 on Rolling Stone magazine's "100 Best Albums of the Last Twenty Years" and in 1989 it was ranked #9 on Rolling Stone's list of the The 100 Greatest Albums of the 80's. In 2003, the album was ranked number 333 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.

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