For years, our crew of friends would always return from downtown late at night to a home on the North End of Manch, boogey-eyed and jazzed with the intention of putting another couple hour’s “on the barbie.”
Immediately, the big screen TV would be fired up, DVDs put in the player, volume jacked, beers cracked, bats packed and Boom! We were off and running through a set of songs that would rip through the split-level. There would be a horseshoe of people standing around the telly, shouting out every verse of each video that came on.
At times, it was as if Springsteen stood on stage in front of us. Or The Band. Or AC/DC. Or Teddy Thompson.
Teddy Thompson, 46, an English musician from NYC with a remarkable voice and a stillness about him that makes you want to listen to him sing from behind his eyes.
Thompson filled our sloshy nights with his cover of Leonard Cohen’s “Tonight Will Be Fine,” a remarkable rendition of a just all right original. Cohen was going with a Woody Guthrie trot when he put it down in ’69. Teddy knocked the dust right off that song and recreated a ballad so intense, so blatantly heart-wrenching about the inevitable demise of a relationship.
Watch it below:
In 2021, Thompson put out a terrific EP with Jenni Muldaur called “Teddy and Jenni Do Porter and Dolly,” a tribute to Porter Wagner and Dolly Parton and it just unfolds so perfectly.
Thompson is playing the Rex Theater on February 25th at 7:30 p.m.
Grab your tickets here to hear him sing.
GSM had a chance to chat with Thompson about a range of things.
1. Layered in love, your songs cover all shapes of love, and it never gets old hearing you sing of it. Does it get easier or harder for you to write love songs?
It gets harder to write songs, period. I’ve never been much of a “self-starter”, so I struggle with actually sitting down and doing it. Love though, is a bottomless pit of inspiration (and despair!).
2. What genre of music do you still hope to tackle someday? You have covered a wide swath already.
I honestly don’t think of music in genres very much. It’s either good or it’s bad, and I don’t care from whence it came. I know I lean country, but just if it’s good, I don’t care that it has fiddles and pedal steel. I like a good song. I can’t imagine making a jazz record or a reggaeton record, but I’m happy for those and any influences to seep into my own work.
3. Aging in this business: In your mid-40’s now, how do you go about picking and choosing when you perform and write? Enjoying the pace?
Oh it’s a tough place to be in many respects. The music industry certainly worships youth, but so does society as a whole here. Middle age as a musician seems like something to survive, to power through, in order to get to “veteran” or “legend” status.
4. Do you edit repeatedly when you write lyrics? Or just slap it down and see where it goes?
I try to edit in my mind before I put it down. I have found that once you commit a word or phrase to paper, so to speak, it’s hard to change it. What I do is repeat, a lot. Over and over. I sing and play the same thing and try to get something solid and inspired and catchy all at once. And then I write it down.
5. I can’t tell you how many late nights me and my friends cranked your rendition of Cohen’s “Tonight Will Be Fine” watching the video at full blast in a living room in Manchester. Thank you for what you did with that song. A transcendent performance. Truly.
Did you know you had it in you when you recorded that song? Had you been perfecting it for years?
No, that was just for the live ensemble shows we were doing, led by the late great Hal Wilner. I did choose the song, and intentionally it is a lesser known one. I thought that gave me a better chance to make it my own. The recording is just one of the live performances. Frankly I think I could have sung it much better, but Hal wanted the moment, and he has a point.
6. What’s your favorite thing about this tour so far?
I like to play solo. Not always, but it’s very freeing because I can do the songs anyway, I like without having to consider other musicians. It’s the ultimate in selfish, self-centered musical mustard. I’m a one-man guy.