Linda Thompson

Linda Thompson

Videos by American Songwriter

After six years of relative silence, British folk-rock legend Linda Thompson released Won’t Be Long Now on October 15. On the album, ex-husband Richard Thompson collaborates with Linda for the first time since 2002. It also features songs co-written with Ron Sexsmith and son Teddy Thompson. We asked the British folk legend about the new record, her inspirations and her songwriting process.

How would you describe Won’t Be Long Now?
It’s family all the way. Sort of reverse nepotism, in that they’re at least as prominent as me on this one.

How would you compare it to your last album?
It’s better.

Who are your songwriting heroes?
Hank Williams. Neil Sedaka. Leonard Cohen, Bob Dylan, Jackie De Shannon. That’s some of them.

When did you start writing songs? Were they good right away, or did that come later?
I first wrote a song when I was 18/19 but I didn’t like it, and I didn’t write another till my mid-thirties. Maybe that first one was my best, instead of my worst. Not my call.

What’s the last song you wrote or started?
Bonny Boys with my grandson Zak Hobbs. We just recorded it in New York.

How do you go about writing songs?
It’s a kind of arbitrary process. I get an idea and sometimes it turns into a song. I don’t have a formula.

What sort of things inspire you to write?
Well, I’m past being inspired by sex, drugs or rock and roll. Soon I’m going to be reduced to writing songs about food.

What’s a song on Won’t Be Long Now you’re particularly proud of?
I like Babies and Fools. It encapsulates a lot of my thoughts.

What’s a lyric or verse from the album you’re a fan of?
See above. “Love’s for babies and fools” is my favorite line — right now, that is.

Are there any words you love or hate?
I love the word “template.” Dislike the word “caveat.” You can see why.

Does it get easier, or harder to write songs, the more you do it?
Easier, but not necessarily better.

Did you excel at writing stories and poems in school?
Yes. I finished my “what we did on our holidays” essay when I was nine, with the line, “At the end of that day, I was soon safe in the arms of Morpheus.” My teacher was so proud of me and had me read it aloud to the class. My best moment yet.

What’s a song of yours that’s really touched people?
You’ll have to ask them.

If you could co-write with anyone living or dead, who would it be?
Erik Satie. He’s on my mind a lot recently.

Who do you consider an underrated songwriter?
Teddy Thompson.

What do you consider to be the perfect song, and why?
Does anyone ever pick their own song? “Ol’ Man River” by Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein II.


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Photos: Phish In Atlantic City, 10/31/13