I don’t understand why Teddy Thompson isn’t a big star. He has the right pedigree (son of folk-rock royalty Linda and Richard Thompson), a beautiful voice (listen here), and three charming albums. He performed on the Brokeback Mountain soundtrack. He tours with Emmylou Harris and Rosanne Cash, and Rufus Wainwright is his friend and occasional collaborator. Everyone should be noticing.
Yet there he was tonight, by himself, on the tiny stage at the Tin Angel in Philadelphia, with maybe
only 60 or 70 100 people there to listen.
There is no justice.
Thompson was at the Tin Angel in support of his new album of country standards, Upfront and Down Low. I’ve been a fan of most of these songs for a long time, and I was pretty skeptical at first about this project. Did we really need new versions of songs like George Jones’s “She Thinks I Still Care” or Ernest Tubb’s “Walking the Floor over You”? Apparently we did, because Thompson makes these songs his. Thompson has a real knack for songs of heartbreak, and, of course, country music knows heartbreak.
Thompson was in good form tonight. He did most of the songs from Upfront, and he did several from the folk-rock Separate Ways—which was on my Top 10 list for 2006. I just love that album, particularly the title track and “I Wish It Was Over,” two strikingly candid songs about relationships that aren’t going well. Thompson wrote most of the lyrics on Separate Ways, and they’re just about downright brilliant. Check out this bit of lyrics from “I Wish It Was Over”:
I wish it was over
I wish we were through
I wish when my phone rang
It wasn’t always you
I don’t even like you
Or can’t you tell
Whenever I’m sober
I treat you like hell
When he sang that tonight, some people laughed and some people nodded their heads. I got goosebumps. One way or another, the audience responded to Teddy Thompson.
It’s a shame that audience isn’t bigger.