Friday, October 22, 2010

Richard Thompson: Tear Stained Letter

Those in the US will remember Jo-EL Sonnier’s version of Richard Thompson’s “Tear Stained Letter” that became a top 10 country hit in 1988.

The song really fit the Cajun artist’s repertoire and is one of the several songs that show the influence of Cajun music on the songwriting of Richard Thompson. Today, I feature as our First Friday tune, a live version of Richard Thompson’s original song. It was released in studio form in 1983 on his “Hand of Kindness” LP.

This song opens the album and is a top tapper that features the twin saxophones of Pete Zorn and Pete Thomas. On this live version from 1984, Fairport Convention fans will recognize Simon Nicol on rhythm guitar, Dave Pegg on bass, and Dave Mattacks on drums. This recording comes from the Old Grey Whistle Test.

Jo-El Sonnier’s Hit Version

From his 1987 “Come on Joe,” Cajun artist Jo-El Sonnier scored at #8 hit on the US country charts and #6 hit on the Canadian country charts with his interpretation of the song. It was his third single from the album and his second and last top ten hit. Country artist Patty Loveless also covered this tune in 1997 and did a respectable version, but did not release it as a single.

Jo-El Sonnier & Richard Thompson Together

This live version featuring both artists was recorded in 1989 on the program Night Music. I don’t know, but it seems to me that the tempo on this live duet is much faster than either version. The recording is not sped up as the key has not changed. David Sanborn, the show’s host, adds sax to this one of kind performance.

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