Richard Thompson: 1952 Vincent Black Lightning
We finally have a theme that allows me to post this.
There is, perhaps, no hoarier cliche in all of pop music than the tale of the “good” girl who falls for the “bad” boy on a motorcycle. The girl’s disapproving parents lurk in the background. And she is punished by the tragedy that ends these songs. Presumably, she learns her lesson. The classic example of this is Leader of the Pack. Here is teenaged angst, distilled for the edification of the masses.
But Richard Thompson takes this cliche and transforms it by the simple expedient of taking his characters seriously. These characters are a little older, and on their own, so the parents are not involved. So, the overblown emotions are gone, as is the morality tale. Instead, Thompson gives us a man and a woman who love their personal freedom. The romance of the story is real and heartfelt. James, the “bad boy”, has a noble spirit, and Thompson has us rooting for him. And, in Red Molly, James finds a worthy successor.
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