Song of the Day, April 8: Pharaoh by Richard Thompson

RTPharaohToday’s song is Pharaoh by Richard Thompson. It’s the powerful closing track to 1988’s Amnesia, his first album on Capitol and the most consistent set of his decade-long partnership with producer and keyboardist Mitchell Froom.

The song is classic Thompson, taking a potent, well-known image and using it as a dark metaphor for modern life. Likening the political and commercial forces of the late 20th Century to the power absolute of the ancient Egyptian rulers, he crafts a clever, angry protest about the treatment of modern workers and citizens. The song is framed in a haunting musical setting that evokes the ancient while hinting at the present day, creating the perfect backdrop for the lyrics. Thompson is also in particularly fine voice, settling into the rich tones that became his trademark in his alt-rock years.

Pharaoh he sits in his tower of steel
The dogs of money all at his heel
Magicians cry “Oh truth! Oh real!”
We’re all working for the Pharaoh

Enjoy this darkly powerful song today.

BONUS: Enjoy this stirring cover of the song by the incomparable June Tabor.


About Robert Hulshof-Schmidt
Freelance writer, researcher, online comic vendor, and project manager. Fan of a wide range of music -- especially folk and 80s pop -- vintage comics, British TV, and LGBT fiction.

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