Right‚ he's not quote-unquote home too often. Which is great‚ too‚ because in a way‚ although he plays with a band generally‚ the tradition of being on the road‚ the traveling minstrel‚ is right out of the folk tradition‚ too. That even goes back further than America‚ but back into the Elizabethan era. Richard Thompson played a show in Burlington earlier this year and he played music back to the Elizabethan era‚ and it was remarkable to hear how those old songs were the foundation for what we hear now both in terms of pop and folk music. It's great to know that the music will never seemingly ever die.
They were clever songs.
Yes‚ they were. More than clever in many cases.
Catchy melodies and great humor.
Absolutely. Thompson‚ even apart from his between-song banter‚ which was uproariously funny‚ much like Pete Seeger he commanded the audience from the beginning.
Oh‚ yeah‚ he's wonderful. He's a very‚ very dynamic artist.
Yes‚ he is. That's a great way to describe him.
I've had the pleasure of working with him a number of times. Well‚ mostly we'd just hang out. We have played together‚ but we just play Beatles songs.
Well‚ he chose a couple of those that night‚ not surprisingly. When I was on your website and looking at the road diary‚ I noticed how you visited with Jorma Kaukonen and his wife when you were in the Midwest recently. I thought how interesting it would be for you two guys to collaborate since Jorma comes from the blues side of the folk tradition and you're less so. Have you ever talked with him about doing that?
Umm … no. You know‚ it just never came up. I don't know. I really don't know him that well. I've met him over the years‚ but we never have really gotten to know each other real well. So it just‚ it didn't come up.
Speaking of tradition‚ The Byrds really perpetuated a tradition of loyalty to roots music in America that's shown up in the work of people like Jay Farrar‚ Jeff Tweedy and Peter Case.
I love those guys‚ Jeff Tweedy and Jay Farrar.
I wonder what kind of music you listen to for pleasure these days and where you find your inspiration from contemporary artists.
Well‚ let's see. I like Jeff Tweedy. I don't listen to a lot of new artists. I don't know‚ I'm not really into hip-hop or that sort of thing. I like Fountains of Wayne. They're kind of fun. Did you ever hear them?
I have heard of them‚ yes.
It's like a throwback to the fun music of the Beatles.
It's interesting that we talk about the Beatles again. As I did some research in anticipation of talking with you this morning‚ I was reading things online and some of the essays with the Byrds box sets‚ and there seemed to be a growing feeling that‚ in terms of influence on pop and rock through the years‚ the Byrds may have ultimately become as much or more influential as the Beatles. What do you think about that premise?
Well‚ I did see a lot of alerts‚ you know‚ news alerts about people using the name The Byrds and even my name in the influence category. So I see that a lot‚ yeah. But I wouldn't really be able to comment on it because‚ you know … It's an interesting trend though.
It definitely is. I've rediscovered the Byrds probably three times during the course of the last 30 years or so‚ becoming more and more appreciative of how wide-ranging the band's grasp of music was through its history.
It's a body of water that has breadth.
Oh‚ absolutely. I noticed a reference in the essay in the booklet with the first Byrds box set about an interview you did in Rolling Stone in‚ I think it referenced 1990‚ and you made a comment about keeping the Byrds together and perhaps your feeling that you kept them together a little too long. Not that I'm going hold you to that‚ but do you still feel that way?

No‚ I've changed my mind. I think the Byrds were really solid. Because of Clarence [White]‚ especially. So that was‚ you know‚ it's just a fleeting thought back then that if I changed the name … Well‚ see‚ we had a brand name‚ and the truth is the people didn't want to come out to see another brand name with even the same people. So the brand name is important.
Yes‚ well‚ I remember seeing the Byrds a couple times during the last two or three years of their existence‚ and I wasn't surprised by how good you were‚ but I was really taken by the interaction between the four people onstage‚ in particular‚ Clarence White's guitar work was just something so exceptional. I was startled to find out more about him and more about his history. It was so sad that he passed away as he did‚ so tragically.