Richard Thompson on Music Critics

Earlier this month, DiS spent half an hour in the company of a true folk legend. Having first started out with Fairport Convention in 1967, Richard Thompson has since gone on to become a distinguished guitarist, songwriter and performer in his own right. After leaving Fairport four years later, he released his first solo album Henry The Human Fly the following year. Soon after, he married singer Linda Peters and they went onto record six albums together culminating in 1982’s Shoot Out The Lights, still regarded by some critics as his finest collection of songs to date.

The way people access music has changed, which in turn has lessened the influence of the music press to some extent. Over the years, you’ve had an up-and-down relationship with the press. Do you pay much attention to what they’re saying or writing about you? Do you think they’re even relevant now?

Richard Thompson: I don’t know if the Internet is a better thing or a worse thing. People can offer musical criticism online when they really don’t know what they’re talking about. Whereas a few years back if you were a music journalist employed by Melody Maker or the New Musical Express you had to have some credentials. To get a job, you had to know a bit more than the next person about your musical area. So it is a little strange to read some very misinformed reviews, particularly online. Do I pay attention? No. I used to. I used to get crushed by them sometimes. But then you step back and think, actually, I know more than this journalist about what I’m doing. He doesn’t understand this or that aspect of what I’m trying to do here, so screw him. I’ll just soldier on with what I’m doing. These days, I think if they love you or hate you it’s the same thing. They’re both wrong. It’s the praise and blame thing. Neither are actually true or accurate. It’s amusing to read reviews but ultimately they don’t really count. And they’re not really true, even the one that’s five stars proclaiming you as a genius. Because no record’s that good and you’re not. I think you have to be your own critic.

Via Drowned In Sound