I've never been what you'd call a voracious reader, but I've usually had a book or two on the go at once - up until a couple of years ago anyway. Since then, well for one reason and another I've found it nigh-on impossible to concentrate on any serious reading - I've tried several times, but just found myself struggling through a handful of pages, putting the book down and never picking it up again. This lack of focus hasn't stopped me buying the blighters though and when I moved house in October, my aching back told me just how many unread volumes I'd accumulated. So a couple of weeks ago, when out of the blue I was hit by the overwhelming urge to read, you might naturally assume that I'd pluck one of those unread tombs from the shelf and dig in, but no. Instead, I went out to a newly reopened independent bookshop and purchased a copy of Richard Thompson's recently published recounting of his own nascent musical journey, Beeswing. It turns out I made a good decision, instantly drawn in, I polished it off in a couple of sittings.
Beeswing is a thoroughly engaging read, written in an easy, conversational style that isn't overwrought and doesn't dwell unnecessarily - for example, by as early as page 21 the initial line-up of Fairport Convention is already in place. Songs are dissected, relationships examined, legendary names dropped (Jimi Hendrix, Syd Barrett, Nick Drake, Phil Ochs etc) and tragedies reluctantly addressed. More importantly than anything, Thompson's writing sends you scurrying back to those early records - and I can offer no higher praise than that.
Here's a Hutchings/Thompson original from the Fairports' oft overlooked 1968 debut LP.
Fairport Convention - It's Alright Ma, It's Only Witchcraft