Thursday, September 28, 2017

Down: Down Where the Drunkards Roll

Richard and Linda Thompson: Down Where the Drunkards Roll


I wish I could tell you that I own and know intimately the contents of every album containing every song I post here. Alas, no. So when this theme was announced, I immediately thought of Down Where the Drunkards Roll. But I was expecting it to be by Tom Waits. Indeed, the song is about the kind of people Tom Waits loves to write about, those down on their luck. Like Waits, the actual songwriter Richard Thompson does not ask for pity; rather, he finds beauty in lives most would dismiss. But, where Waits would have chosen a character, and presented his view of things, Thompson instead evokes a powerful sense of place. Thompson finds both depravity and madness here, but what he asks us to notice is that this place makes all of us equal. No one is judged, and some can return to their normal lives without consequence when the leave here.

Down Where the Drunkards Roll is also a wonderful vehicle for Linda Thompson. The song comes from a time when Richard and Linda were a couple, and at their creative peak together. Richard Thompson wrote here a perfect song for Linda Thompson’s voice, and she delivers the goods. While we are talking about the sound of the song, I believe the stringed instrument featured here is an autoharp.

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