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Richard Thompson — 1952 Vincent Black Lightning
Album: Rumor and Sigh
Avg rating:
7.8

Your rating:
Total ratings: 1743









Released: 1991
Length: 4:38
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 (314)add comment
 geonuine wrote:

The glasses are unnecessary though 
 
Those keep the bugs out of her eyes when she's riding the bike.
My favorite song of all time. In just a handful of paragraphs, he has brilliant storytelling, with drama, subtext, character development, humor, everything.
 gmichaelt wrote:

Hey! Waydaminit!

There's no p-seat. Where was she supposed to sit on that Vincent?

And, while we're at it, does the "p" stand for what is likely your first thought?
 Vincent with pillion.

 geonuine wrote:

The glasses are unnecessary though 
 
But they're not an issue either! Maybe she's a Librarian.
 nelamvr6 wrote:
This song gives me chills every time. Truly  a classic.
 

just got the chills myself.  What a song.
 hansk wrote:
Scarlett Madison

...red hair and black leather, my favorite color scheme...
 
The glasses are unnecessary though 
One distant morning, headed east on the Montauk Highway, we heard a most wonderous thunder.   Catching up to the source, it turned out to be a Vincent in the wild.   Amazing.

But why, oh why, do the ladies love the bad boys so....?
 Pleather, but ok by me :)
Scarlett Madison

...red hair and black leather, my favorite color scheme...
 

Love him, but fav of his is Good things happen to bad people.  Great song...
A smile from the start!
Love this
 Seahunt wrote:
Saw him do this live a couple months ago.  Chills.  Just him and his guitar on stage for two hours.  Awesome!
 

ditto two weeks ago!  The show came about suddenly,  1 week notice, free show filling in for a cancellation.   What a treat in the midst of all this crap going on.   Don't know if these are allowed here, but there is someones recording of it on You Tube, posted
Jul 26, 2020

Is it weird that this song makes me feel proud to be a fan of Richard?  I mean, this song has it all!  Motorcycles, hot redhead in leather, crime, violence and tragedy.  Not to mention some of the best acoustic guitar work you'll ever hear.
I was fortunate to get a last minute pair of seats to see Richard in...February?...and was treated to a solo show. He did bring his backup singer to do some songs from his latest album, but it was just Richard and his guitar. Amazingly great show. His guitar work more than makes up for the, sometimes, hard to make out lyrics. My husband claimed at the end of the show, "Wow, all those cords!" I said, "You mean the guitar work?" "Yeah."
After he did this song, I leaned over and said, "And that is a Richard Thomson love song" 
And, yes, this is a very emotional song for me, which highlights his song writing and presentation.
LLRP!
Is there a "play it again" button?

9
 gmichaelt wrote:

Hey! Waydaminit!

There's no p-seat. Where was she supposed to sit on that Vincent?

And, while we're at it, does the "p" stand for what is likely your first thought?
 
No, it stands for the pillion seat.  The Black Lightning in that photograph is pretty heavily modded.  The seat on a production Black Lightning was a more lengthy affair that would allow someone to have a passenger on the pillion.  
This song gives me chills every time. Truly  a classic.
 ScottishWillie wrote:
Realise this is a bit of a non sequitur but I just bought a Triumph Street Triple R and it's a complete hoot to ride. The only link I can offer (and it's more than a little tenuous) is that it's a brilliant song and a brilliant bike?!?
 
Back when I was immortal, my second bike was a 650 Triumph Bonnie. My first bike
was a Honda 50...Watta transition..;-)

Tony in NJ
W.A.S.T.E.
I shared this with a friend who knew only the Del McCoury version. He said he thought this was a bluegrass song. It's certainly in the same tradition of strong storytelling. About the only concession is that James and Red Molly ride to Knoxville instead of Box Hill.
 melzabutch wrote:
Image result for 1952 Vincent Black Lightning Model
 
Hey! Waydaminit!

There's no p-seat. Where was she supposed to sit on that Vincent?

And, while we're at it, does the "p" stand for what is likely your first thought?
Not a bad song. I love Thompson's guitar work, but this song needs to take a rest! I've heard it so much I'm glad  James was shot and died. No good punk!
I saw him soooo many years ago in Bloomington, Indiana. 
I saw him this past June and i was in the front row and was just blown away by his guitar work. 
Good Lord Thank you for this.


a 10 in so many different ways!

Probably add up to a 100 or somethin-spoken by someone who rides motorcycles and married a red head.  
Gawd..... this song kicks ass. 10/10 I can only hope "I['ll]see angels on Ariels in leather and chrome, swooping down from heaven to carry me home."
I ride a Harley.  But I love this song!
 nelamvr6 wrote:
Every time I hear this song it just hits me harder and harder. Such a wonderful song, and his performance is just sterling. I had the pleasure of hearing him perform this song live twice. He still tours, I highly recommend his concerts, they are outstanding!
 

thats what i'm saying (or just said, see below)
Goosebumps (aka chickenskin) every time.  I mean errtime.

Meant a lot before marriage. Meant even more during marriage. Means most after marriage.
Every time I hear this song it just hits me harder and harder. Such a wonderful song, and his performance is just sterling. I had the pleasure of hearing him perform this song live twice. He still tours, I highly recommend his concerts, they are outstanding!
Just saw Richard Thompson last Friday February 1st and he played a smoking version of this song. Never get tired of hearing it.
 Jota wrote:
It's a times like this I wish there were negative numbers to choose from when voting.

 
I wish for numbers greater than 10 to choose from when voting at times like this
Voice is so so, but he plays a storm and man was he a riot on stage when I caught him a few years abo.  Really funny and quite a ball buster.  
One of my favourite songs of all time. Amazing. His voice, lyrics and playing are so full of truth.
Everything stops in our household when this comes on.......solid 10.........20 on the goose bump scale
It's a times like this I wish there were negative numbers to choose from when voting.
Realise this is a bit of a non sequitur but I just bought a Triumph Street Triple R and it's a complete hoot to ride. The only link I can offer (and it's more than a little tenuous) is that it's a brilliant song and a brilliant bike?!?
 jpfueler wrote:
I wonder. Were the Angels riding Square Fours?

 
Don't know about Angels, but I have ridden an Ariel  'Squariel', complete with Watsonian Monaco sidecar.
At 1,000ccs it was considered ridiculously oversized at that time.
He can play, ...... Twice today.
Must be a worldwide shortage of music.
Austerity all round it seems. 
Perfect.  That man can really tell a story and play the guitar... even at the same time!
Just moved this to 9 - the lyrics paint a wonderful story
 bindi wrote:
RT is so good live.
 
Can only imagine. Did you (or anyone here) see him with Judith Owen at Joe's Pub when they made "!000 Years of Popular Music"? That would have been great, methinks!
RT is so good live.
 Webfoot wrote:

Sounds like someone needs a hug.

 

Or a high five, depending on one's perspective.  I think that post was right on the money.
 
2 plays in the last 30 days. Somehow I heard 'em both.... and it was one too many.
 glassbrain wrote:
Pretentious, sentimental nonsense. I can really do without Mr Thompson. Please don't bring the great songs of Gordon Lightfoot down to this level.

 
Sounds like someone needs a hug.
Looking forward to seeing Richard Thompson in December at the Freight & Salvage in Berkeley for some all-request shows. Should be great. People request the obscure, the challenging, and maybe some classic songs, and he does his best to play them.
Just saw Sir Richard October 2016 at Avalon in Easton MD.  Unreal.  His fingers across the guitar was awesome to watch.  Great show.
Pretentious, sentimental nonsense. I can really do without Mr Thompson. Please don't bring the great songs of Gordon Lightfoot down to this level.
Reminds me of Gordon Lightfoot.
{#Guitarist}
 Grammarcop wrote:
Uh, Bill ... Twice in one day?

  Cut him a break,,,,he likes the song. He told me he was going to play it twice just to see how you felt. 
Uh, Bill ... Twice in one day?
 jbuhl wrote:

Anybody who has ridden a motorcycle and has an affinity to red heads will rate this a 10.  I know I do.

 
Or an affinity for amazing storytelling...
or an affinity for some excellent guitar picking...
or an affinity for the melancholy. 

I know I do too. 
This song always strikes me right to the core and close to the truth of my earlier life (not the crime aspect, but the girl and the bike).  It definitely brings real tears to my eyes.

A beautiful song. 
 bachbeet wrote:
Guess I'm in the minority here.  It's OK but I could not rate it nearly as high as an 8.

 
Anybody who has ridden a motorcycle and has an affinity to red heads will rate this a 10.  I know I do.
Play some of that there Fairport Convention...
Image result for 1952 Vincent Black Lightning Model
I can just seem them flying down Box Hill with the red hair waving in the air


 
Already gave it a 10.  Sigh...

Wow... now, what was I doing before this came on?

 

Had to bump it to a 10.  Would send it to 10^2 if I could.


one of my favorites, keep up the good work
 

I recently read a quote talking about how under rated an artist Richard Thompson was. It went along the lines of “If he’d done more drugs and bonked more bimbos he’d have has his own South Bank show by now.”


Brilliant. More!
Wow, just noticed the line borrowed from Bo Diddley "just 22 and I don't mind dyin". Killer. 
Perfection.
The greatest song ever written. Maybe, but certainly my favourite.
hope she's better at starting it than the Hamster was on Top Gear.
I've always been a sucker for a great ballad!
 helgigermany wrote:
Normally i am not a fan of this music, but the voice and the arrangement is so nice! I must love this!

 
That's an 0rder!
Normally i am not a fan of this music, but the voice and the arrangement is so nice! I must love this!

To the best of my recollection, Box Hill is only 20 miles out of London, but it  was still THE place to go, (if you`d done Death Hill near Brand`s Hatch for the 3 weeks previously).

OK, damning by faint praise. Yep.


its like good gin; has bite and presence, but probably one in a row is plenty
Rollie Free setting a M/C speed record on a Vincent Black Lightning in the late '40s ( 150+ mph).

- He stripped to reduce drag!



Red Hair and Black Leather (nice) ------>



hearing the beginning of this song always makes my heart swell. {#Hearteyes}
 hansk wrote:
Scarlett Madison

...red hair and black leather, my favorite color scheme...

 
  {#Cheers}  Godlike for the song and Outstanding for the lady above {#Drool}
Man I love this song

Oh and that is a screaming machine 
                                                       |
                                                       |
                                                      V
Scarlett Madison

...red hair and black leather, my favorite color scheme...
{#Kiss} ..... luv RT a lot, amazing song and in my opinion is one of the top 10 guitarist in the world
 Stingray wrote:
Certainly not made for our beloved STINGRAY....

 
Ha, Ha, Ha!    ...thanks for the chuckle.


Vincent Black Lightning from 1950 at the Zweirad-Museum Neckarsulm
 melzabutch wrote:


 Doesn't get much better then a Vincent or this tune.


  Doesnt look like there is much room for Red Molly!

 


 Sweet_Virginia wrote:

Thankyou, A thing of beauty and love this song 

 

 melzabutch wrote:


 Doesn't get much better then a Vincent or this tune.


  

 
Thankyou, A thing of beauty and love this song 
"Red hair and black leather...my favorite color scheme".


This song typlifies "great song writing" and his guitar playing is magnificent.  

  
Thanks Bill!  Made my morning!
Outstanding!
Very likeable. Reference to Mods and Rockers?
Like this song, but Del McCoury's version is way better. 
 
 clive369 wrote:
So the poor blighter gets killed in a motorcycle crash (on a Vincent '52) and "there wasn't much left". He then gives his girlie the keys to said machine.

I rather doubt "having run out of road" that it was in any kind of ride-able state. But maybe he meant for her to cash in the scrap metal and to treat herself to something nice?

Love eh?   {#Hug}
 
You need to listen more closely.  "Shotgun blast to his chest..."


Thanks Bud!  On my list to learn!

 
buddy wrote:
Guitarists:  Open G, drop bottom G to C, capo 3rd fret.  Very manageable in this configuration.  Go for it!
 


Saw Richard Thompson in Tampa's historic Tampa Theatre early this year. He played this song which was great! There were rumors that his ex Linda Thompson was also going to be there (unfortunately that didn't happen). Cool concert in a cool venue none the less.
My favorite Thompson song. Love it.
 buddy wrote:
Guitarists:  Open G, drop bottom G to C, capo 3rd fret.  Very manageable in this configuration.  Go for it!
 
I saw him do this on the AMAs the other day. Thanks for the info. I don't know if I can replicate his finger picking though.{#Motor}
Guitarists:  Open G, drop bottom G to C, capo 3rd fret.  Very manageable in this configuration.  Go for it!
Certainly not made for our beloved STINGRAY....
This one still gives me chills.
 lemmoth wrote:
Man is an amazing guitar player.
 
Yup. Seen him live twice. Brilliant.     {#Bananajam}
Man is an amazing guitar player.
Saw him do this live a couple months ago.  Chills.  Just him and his guitar on stage for two hours.  Awesome!
The reference to Box Hill ("And down to Box Hill they did ride") is a road near Dorking in Surrey UK that was one of the first dual carriageway bypass to be built in the UK. It is on a hill and has lovely sweeping curves although has unusual reverse camber in places making it a tad 'interesting'. 

The road was (and is) very popular to blat down and commands bikes from many a mile and for many years, usually on Sundays. 

Sadly, this has now all passed now the filth have put stop to the 'fun' what with speed cameras and plain clothes cars and, well, people killing themselves, but you often still see a bike rally on Sundays at the bottom of the hill.

Does this go to 11?
This song makes my heart sing like no other!
Guess I'm in the minority here.  It's OK but I could not rate it nearly as high as an 8.

This is a profound song with some sweet acoustic guitar work...  awesome...

Man, what a great song this is. It has a real classic feel like it was written in the 50s or something. Love all versions!
The Bluegrass version of this by Bean Creek is very nice, the aesthetic matches the genre well.


Many years ago I saw Richard Thompson perform this song at the Georgia Theatre in Athens — one man with one guitar under one spotlight.  He must have sung it live hundreds of times, and I bet every time it sounded as immediate and urgent as that one.  I could almost smell the road dust, fumes, and black leather.  But, alas, no redheaded girl.  So now the original sounds too tame to me.

cool treat - yeah!
Aww, how mediocre!
An oustanding blend of stortytelling, songcraft and musicianship.

I can't wait for the movie version.
Godiva
The original deserves a nod.  Love the Pre-Raphaelites.  Painted by John Collier

Stefen wrote:
Maybe not a Vincent, but close.


 



 
Stefen wrote:
Maybe not a Vincent, but close.
 


I don't see much leather either...

I LOVE this song...
This song always makes me want to hear "I Agree With Pat Metheny." {#Roflol} ("Kenny's talents are too teeny - he deserves the crap he's going to get. Overdubbed himself on Louis - what a musical chop-suey! Raised his head above the parapet...")  The man's a lyrical and musical genius with a wicked, shameless sense of humor.  I love him ridiculously.

Maybe not a Vincent, but close.




hmmm, makes me want to put together a "mix cd" of all my favorite motorcycle songs...

Oh Bill, what a surprise to hear this! OUSTANDING!!

 "I see angels on Ariels in leather and chrome"
{#Sunny}


Godlike without a doubt!
I saw Richard more than 10 years ago in a theatre of a little town in Italy. It was a great gig, I remember Richard, alone in the stage, singing with the audience while he was changing a broken guitar chord...


cool...


I just saw him last Saturday, with (Loudain Wainwight III).

Great show, as always.

See him if you ever have the chance.




love it...