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Richard Thompson — 1952 Vincent Black Lightning (live)
Album: Single
Avg rating:
7.5

Your rating:
Total ratings: 1328









Released: 1992
Length: 4:48
Plays (last 30 days): 1
Said Red Molly to James that's a fine motorbike
A girl could feel special on any such like
Said James to Red Molly, my hat's off to you
It's a Vincent Black Lightning, 1952
And I've seen you at the corners and cafes it seems
Red hair and black leather, my favourite colour scheme
And he pulled her on behind
And down to Boxhill they did ride

Said James to Red Molly, here's a ring for your right hand
But I'll tell you in earnest I'm a dangerous man
I've fought with the law since I was seventeen
I robbed many a man to get my Vincent machine
Now I'm 21 years, I might make 22
And I don't mind dying, but for the love of you
And if fate should break my stride
Then I'll give you my Vincent to ride

Come down, come down, Red Molly, called Sergeant McRae
For they've taken young James Adie for armed robbery


Shotgun blast hit his chest, left nothing inside
Oh, come down, Red Molly to his dying bedside
When she came to the hospital, there wasn't much left
He was running out of road, he was running out of breath
But he smiled to see her cry
And said I'll give you my Vincent to ride

Says James, in my opinion, there's nothing in this world
Beats a 52 Vincent and a red headed girl
Now Nortons and Indians and Greeveses won't do
They don't have a soul like a Vincent 52
He reached for her hand and he slipped her the keys
He said I've got no further use for these
I see angels on Ariels in leather and chrome
Swooping down from heaven to carry me home
And he gave her one last kiss and died
And he gave her his Vincent to ride
Comments (149)add comment
A true candidate for an 11. 
 JsDad wrote:
Thompson put this song on "Rumor & Sigh."  He was well aware of the rarity of this bike.  On his next album (Mirror Blue) he included the song "MGB-GT."  There were several hundred of those cars produced, I believe.  When asked about following the cycle song with the car song, he said he was attempting to appeal to a larger audience.{#Lol}If you're looking for rarity, try the MGC...BMC (British Motor Corp)
was clearing out the parts bins and stuffed the remaining sixes from
the defunct Austin Healey into the B body...And at the very end was
the MGB-GT-V8 with the Rover (nee Buick) aluminum V8 sandwiched in...
Tony in NJ
W.A.S.T.E.  


 LPCity wrote:

I'm willing to bet that exactly 0 of the people making negative comments about the song have never owned, or probably ever even ridden, a fine English motorcycle.....

80% of English bikes are still on the road...The rest managed to make it

back home...

Tony in NJ (former 650 Triumph Bonnie owner)

W.A..T.E.



When she came to the hospital, there wasn't much left
He was running out of road, he was running out of breath
But he smiled to see her cry

Always brings tears to my eyes, especially as I get older and more of my friends and family run out of road and breath. 
 LPCity wrote:
I'm willing to bet that exactly 0 of the people making negative comments about the song have never owned, or probably ever even ridden, a fine English motorcycle.....
 ... or mopped up the drive or garage floor after moving it 

I always think there is a song with your name as part of the title or the subject.
I found mine and what a beautiful ride it is.
 user4176 wrote:
Not bad, but somehow from another time. Sounds medieval, like a minstrel. And a little too self-important.

 



Great song to break in brand new headphones.

Followed by For Emily by Simon and Garfunkel.  

Groovy. 
This song always reminds me of my dad, who was a biker in the 50s (he had a BSA though, not a Vincent).
This song is the musical equivalent of a 1952 Vincent Black Lightning. Saw him perform it live at Hardly Strictly Bluegrass in San Francisco and it blew my mind. Amazing.
Ha, I used to ride my Triumph Tiger Cub up and down Boxhill in 1970....unfortunately not with Red Molly!
This is a great ballad. Richard Thompson has a vast catalog of brilliant music. Please dig into  his back catalog!
 LPCity wrote:
I'm willing to bet that exactly 0 of the people making negative comments about the song have never owned, or probably ever even ridden, a fine English motorcycle.....
 Though it shouldn't matter, it does raise my enjoyment  of the song, having owned a Norton and an Enfield Indian (not an Indian Enfield). Sadly I know I'll never own or even ride a Vincent.
After well over 700 listens, still gives me goosebumps (chicken skin).
Vocal influence on Nick Cave?
 rpdevotee wrote:
This is really nice.  Amazing how one person can project so much through his guitar and voice.
 
Saw him live....and he literally fills the space.  My wife had never heard of him at the time, and he instantly became one of her favorites.  She still talks about the show 20 years later.
Everytime I hear this I think of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and Thompson railing in the elevator about having a Vincent Black Shadow in the desert motocross competion. A few years back I googled both (neither a common sight in southern Ontario). Unlike the 52 Black Lightning, the current day Black Shadow looks like some kind of evil Black Op killing machine. What they looked liked when Hunter penned F&L is still a mystery to me but it sure wasn't a desert bike.
 poetdancer wrote:

No, Red Molly is a character in the song. The song was written way, way before Molly became a slang term for ecstasy.
 
Red Molly is also a women's bluegrass/folk band named after this song. They're quite good... (hint, hint). 

 khardog145 wrote:

Good observation.  He was a member of the band Fairport Convention in the late 60's, early 70's- which had a real "medieval" folk sound.  But if you ever get to see him live, I'd recommend it.  He is a brilliant guitarist and songwriter.  
 

This superb ballad stops me and puts me on the road again. 
Wind in my face and my honey's arms around me.
I'm not sure there is any better.
Bob Dylan may have a few. {#Whistle} 
 LinThizzy wrote:
Red Molly is xtc?
 
No, Red Molly is a character in the song. The song was written way, way before Molly became a slang term for ecstasy.
 user4176 wrote:
Not bad, but somehow from another time. Sounds medieval, like a minstrel. And a little too self-important.
 
Good observation.  He was a member of the band Fairport Convention in the late 60's, early 70's- which had a real "medieval" folk sound.  But if you ever get to see him live, I'd recommend it.  He is a brilliant guitarist and songwriter.  
Red Molly is xtc?
I'm willing to bet that exactly 0 of the people making negative comments about the song have never owned, or probably ever even ridden, a fine English motorcycle.....
This is really nice.  Amazing how one person can project so much through his guitar and voice.
Not bad, but somehow from another time. Sounds medieval, like a minstrel. And a little too self-important.
Love it. Thanks, Bill.
 Hoosfoos wrote:
I'd rather be at the dentist than listen to this.

 
I know - its awful
I'd rather be at the dentist than listen to this.
Like others here, how I'm not fond of that voice. But his songwriting and story telling skills knock this out of the park. Lightning, indeed. 
 Roguewarer wrote:
Even tho down with the flu, I crawled to my computer to comment how irritating this man, his annoying vocals & general music is/are. Thank you. *meh* PSD.

 
agreed
Even tho down with the flu, I crawled to my computer to comment how irritating this man, his annoying vocals & general music is/are. Thank you. *meh* PSD.
 Noé wrote:
{#Stop} faut pas ! faut pas ! Do not ! Do not ! The drummer is very good

 


{#Stop}
 Rashley wrote:
He can play guitar, but my goodness me, he really can't sing.

 
I couldn't disagree with you more. Perhaps not to your taste, but his voice fits his music well, and he delivers with passion, wit, and humor.
 Highlowsel wrote:


Oh man.  Imagine if he'd hit a bump and lost it, eh?  Would'a made a nice smear across the salt flats wouldn't it?  Heh!

Highlow
American Net'Zen

 

Yeah, but not much danger of that because the salt flats are really flat.  That's why they're called salt flats and not salt bumps.
 Rashley wrote:
He can play guitar, but my goodness me, he really can't sing.

 
He can deliver a good story, which is what it's all about.
He skipped an important verse but i still enjoyed this version. Yeah RP!
 zepher wrote:
Rollie Free setting a M/C speed record on a Vincent Black Lightning in the late '40s ( 150+ mph).

- He stripped to reduce drag!



 

Oh man.  Imagine if he'd hit a bump and lost it, eh?  Would'a made a nice smear across the salt flats wouldn't it?  Heh!

Highlow
American Net'Zen


This is nice...never heard before, don't know what it's about but i wish i had that bike
 melzabutch wrote:

Dan, I saw Sir Richard this past October at The Avalon in Easton, Md, and this was awesome.  Brilliant show.

 
Great,
I saw the show advertised but alas was not in town.  Good going!
 idiot_wind wrote:
Red hair and black leather...my favorite color scheme!

 
"Tattoos everywhere you look, she's a comic book"

RT sure has a gift for these kinds of lines!


 DanFHiggins wrote:


Amen to that!   {#Cheers}

 
Dan, I saw Sir Richard this past October at The Avalon in Easton, Md, and this was awesome.  Brilliant show.
 jbuhl wrote:
For us motorcyclist and red head lovers, this just resonates like nothing else.

 

Amen to that!   {#Cheers}
Oh, "Red Molly", I was hearing "Red mullet". {#Laughing}
 zepher wrote:
Rollie Free setting a M/C speed record on a Vincent Black Lightning in the late '40s ( 150+ mph).

- He stripped to reduce drag!



 


Good song, but overplayed here on RP.
 Rashley wrote:
He can play guitar, but my goodness me, he really can't sing.

 
Some artists voice fits their music. Tom Waits can't sing either but his voice fits his style. Same goes for Thompson. And I'll bet Sinatra was a shitty guitar player.
 n4ku wrote:
Fine on guitar, but his voice is just awful. Worse than fingernails on a blackboard.                                   {#Headache}
Please make him stop singing.                                 {#Frustrated}

 
Yes yes, oh yes.
He can play guitar, but my goodness me, he really can't sing.
I'm always impressed when live versions sound almost identical to studio work. 
For us motorcyclist and red head lovers, this just resonates like nothing else.
Can't wait to see RT in Napa in October!!! And again on the Cayamo cruise in Feb!!!
 
 OlderGentleman wrote:
A 9 in my book. 👍. The del mcoury blue grass version is quite nice also. 

 
I saw the Del McCoury band play this live at a festival last year and it was really fantastic.  At the time I thought it was them that wrote the song, but that was incorrect!
Richard Thompson never fails to delight. Never fails to keep putting out albums either!
 unclelonghair wrote:
Aside from being an epic ballad, the guitar work on this is supreme, I can listen to it over and over.

Here is a hypnotic cover of the song:

https://cuteduos.tumblr.com/post/130091132513/now-featuring-mike-and-ruthy-theyve-been-cute 

 
particularly liked the last verse. That was nicely done.
Live music is the best
Aside from being an epic ballad, the guitar work on this is supreme, I can listen to it over and over.

Here is a hypnotic cover of the song:

https://cuteduos.tumblr.com/post/130091132513/now-featuring-mike-and-ruthy-theyve-been-cute 
A 9 in my book. 👍. The del mcoury blue grass version is quite nice also. 
A great find. 
10   10   10 
Haven't ridden down Box Hill for half a Century, but this almost inspires me to hire a big twin and redo the trek. Almost.
Fine on guitar, but his voice is just awful. Worse than fingernails on a blackboard.                                   {#Headache}
Please make him stop singing.                                 {#Frustrated}
Red hair and black leather...my favorite color scheme!
 MilesW wrote:
Excellent version of an amazing song!

 

Agreed !!
Excellent version of an amazing song!
Now, that's true love.
Takes to my Kawasaki 900 Z1
Before I read the lyrics = 9
After I read the lyrics = 10
... and that's just for the red headed girl sentiment.
{#Redface}
 springof63 wrote:

Well said mate. (finally let my '86 GPz750 go, after 23 years, last september, now got a Z750J6F plenty quick enough to scare me !)

 

I've got a Z750 but I keep looking at restored GPz900's. I loved that bike with a passion and one of these days I'll get up the nerve and buy one (I may need to sleep with it when The Wife finds out). Bikes are like that, sometime you bond with a one and it stays with you forever (bit like a wife really). 


Saw him perform this in Port Fairy, Australia and a fine rendition it was.
 akdavey wrote:
Just can't stand his voice nor his song.

 
My condolences regarding your infirmity.
Wow, can't believe I haven't commented on this classic. 10 How's that?
 Bluenoser wrote:
Anyone that rides has got to love this song. '98 Shadow 1100.
 
Well said mate.
.
(finally let my '86 GPz750 go, after 23 years, last september, now got a Z750J6F plenty quick enough to scare me !) {#Motor}
 Poacher wrote:

Rode down Box Hill on my way home from work for quite a few years.  

(for those who don't know, Box Hill in Surrey, UK was a renowned road for unregulated bike racing for many a year. It was occasionally splendid mayhem for enthusiasts although eventually the police stopped the fun. I believe is was one of the first dual carriageways built in the country and it had some wicked bends that had some entertaining reverse cambers)

 
Thanks for this. I've been lucky enough to see two of his shows. Brilliant Brilliant.
Just can't stand his voice nor his song.
Excellent track, always raises goosebumps! Especially since I ride a Black Lightning. Fabulous lyrics & voice. 
Anyone that rides has got to love this song. '98 Shadow 1100.
We have seen Richard over 10 times , Solo,Trio,band, Old music ensemble, with his family and Fairport C.

Always superb, put him on your music bucket list not to be missed.
 TerryS wrote:
Rode down Box Hill , stopped in the Stepping Stones Pub for a pint then bestrode my Lambretta and carried on. No Red Molly by my side.
 
Rode down Box Hill on my way home from work for quite a few years.  

(for those who don't know, Box Hill in Surrey, UK was a renowned road for unregulated bike racing for many a year. It was occasionally splendid mayhem for enthusiasts although eventually the police stopped the fun. I believe is was one of the first dual carriageways built in the country and it had some wicked bends that had some entertaining reverse cambers)
my favorite all time artist and favorite album is Sundays Child - one of his lesser known works. if you want to hear how good a guitarist he was, listen to the Tumbler.
 renostve999 wrote:
okay...it's stoopid, but this song always brings a tear to my eye.

 
not so it's the romantic in your heart

Just the same that song rocks 
 oufason wrote:

"Red hair and black leather my favortie color schemes"  has to be one of the best lines. 



 
I have a redheaded wife named Molly.  I also have a black leather jacket.  Think I need to get the two together...
 Peter_Bradshaw wrote:

{#Clap}    .... and me - amazing guitarist, for me he is in my top 5 and he's been doing it for the last 50 years.  " Red lipstick  hair and black leather my favorite color scheme".  Brilliant.    {#Clap}

My correction in lyrics. Sorry.  But yes, brilliant! 


 xkolibuul wrote:
If I could play guitar like just one artist, it would be Richard Thompson.

 
{#Clap}    .... and me - amazing guitarist, for me he is in my top 5 and he's been doing it for the last 50 years.  " Red lipstick and black leather my favorite color scheme".  Brilliant.    {#Clap}
 akiml wrote:
Brilliant version- SOLID 10 ! Anyone know if this can be found in a recording?

 
Not sure about this exact recording but it was originally on the album Mirror Blue.  

There's a nice live version on the Life and Music of Richard Thompson box set, also on the Live from Austin, TX disc and finally the Two Letter Words live set.
File:Richard Thompson and Dave Pegg.jpg
Richard Thompson with Fairport Convention's Dave Pegg at Cropredy, 2005, by Kevin Smith .


After listening to Linda's story, I will repeat my previous comment:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Linda_Thompson_(singer)

"So he died, and went to Hell...
And he gave her his Vincent... to Sell!" 
 
 mike_chouinard wrote:
More Richard, please! One of the finest guitar players around.

 

Yes, more RT on RP would be lovely. 

{#Wave} Right, Goldsmiths? 
Rollie Free setting a M/C speed record on a Vincent Black Lightning in the late '40s ( 150+ mph).

- He stripped to reduce drag!


Best Richard Thompson song Ever...and Great live version! :)
okay...it's stoopid, but this song always brings a tear to my eye.


There is no one better in this genere!
I absolutely love this song!  I was so thrilled to hear Richard play it live... twice.

He's still out there touring, if you have the chance, don't miss him! 
 oufason wrote:

"Red hair and black leather my favortie color schemes"  has to be one of the best lines. 

 
Here's a similar one:

Canadian mounted baby, a police force that works
Red and black, that's their color scheme
Get their man, in the end
 xkolibuul wrote:
If I could play guitar like just one artist, it would be Richard Thompson.
 
I agree - for the acoustic.  For electric I'd pick Jeff Beck, with Richard a close second.
Rode down Box Hill , stopped in the Stepping Stones Pub for a pint then bestrode my Lambretta and carried on. No Red Molly by my side.
If I could play guitar like just one artist, it would be Richard Thompson.
Great performance of jewel of a ballad.

"I don't mind dying but for the love of you"
Brilliant version- SOLID 10 ! Anyone know if this can be found in a recording?
998 cc

a classic bike ahead of its time

great song to go with it
This live version is just fabulous...digging the bass and the faster tempo! Richard's growl gets on down into the depths of those brilliant lyrics...zap, bang, pow! Yes! {#Motor}
Had a buddy who had a Vincent.  Woulda killed for it.
 oufason wrote:

"Red hair and black leather my favortie color schemes"  has to be one of the best lines. 

 
I love it when my red-head wife wears her black leather jacket.

"Red hair and black leather my favortie color schemes"  has to be one of the best lines. 


 d-don wrote:

What he said.

 
yup     {#Yes}
Saw Richard Thpson live in Montreal last September... Only got to realize that I saw him play at MUN in St. John's in the 70's as a part of Fairport. Convention... Awesome performance, even if you don't like his voice/guitar combo.
 Seahunt wrote:
Dammit.  Just tuned in to hear the last chord.  I just saw Richard live a couple months ago.  For all you haters, go see him live and report back {#Smile}
 

No hater, don´t know him, never saw him. I just do not like this piece of musik. I think that´s OK.

Dammit.  Just tuned in to hear the last chord.  I just saw Richard live a couple months ago.  For all you haters, go see him live and report back {#Smile}
Please make it stop. NOW. Please
It's like a movie...with crazy good finger picking.
I just want to hear the Red Mollies sing this.
 mike_chouinard wrote:
More Richard, please! One of the finest guitar players around.
 
What he said.

More Richard, please! One of the finest guitar players around.
Awesome song!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Thompson put this song on "Rumor & Sigh."  He was well aware of the rarity of this bike.  On his next album (Mirror Blue) he included the song "MGB-GT."  There were several hundred of those cars produced, I believe.  When asked about following the cycle song with the car song, he said he was attempting to appeal to a larger audience.{#Lol}

 
Stuart wrote:
Did a little Googling and was surprised to find that there were only 30 Vincent Black Lightnings produced. In 1952, a total of four were made; one went to London, and the other three went to Singapore.
 

Can't wait to see the Richard Thompson Electric Trio at the Sierra Nevada Big Room this Friday.  He puts on one of the best live shows I've ever seen. 
Watched Top Gear last night and they had a race to the north that included a Vincent Black Shadow, a Jaguar XK120 and a steam train. Great show!

Nice version of a great song.
God Like!!