Song of the Day, December 19: The Angels Took My Racehorse Away by Richard Thompson

RTRacehorseToday’s song is The Angels Took My Racehorse Away by Richard Thompson. After leaving Fairport Convention, Thompson did some side work and collaborative projects before releasing his first solo album. That disc, starring as Henry the Human Fly, is notorious for its poor sales but stands as one of the strongest in his long, stellar career. Distinctly English in its themes, it provides a wonderful set of modern folk songs that create a picture of a country torn between its traditions of agriculture, industry, independence, and Empire.

Thompson also has a lot of fun on the album, something that often gets lost even on his best work. Angels is a great example. It’s a simple story song — an unlucky gambler finally finds the perfect horse, only to have her die just before he can win big. He milks the pathos but frames it with a very human touch, allowing the listener to feel sympathy even as the lyrics go over the top.

She won the Lanark Silver Bell and she stole every heart away
She stood her stand at sixteen hands and I’d ride her easy
But they’ve taken her away, they’ve taken my racehorse away

Enjoy this delightful song today.

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Richard Thompson, OBE

RT, OBE with daughter Kami at the Investiture

Congratulations to Richard Thompson! My favorite musician was named an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) as part of the 2011 Honours List. The honor was bestowed today as part of the Queen’s official birthday celebration.

Richard was recognized for “Services to music.” This well-deserved honor recognizes his singular talent as a singer and songwriter, interpreter of British traditional and folk music, and musical historian.

As a special celebration, here are two of my favorite songs from the opposite ends of his solo career (so far).

 

With Honour in Hand

The Angels Took My Racehorse Away from 1972’s brilliant if long-overlooked starring as Henry the Human Fly

Let It Blow from 2005’s amazing Front Parlour Ballads

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