Friday Factory Tune: 1952 Vincent Black Lightning

Since there are so few songs about factories, we define the tuneful Friday category to embrace the romanticism of machinery.

Doomed romanticism in the case of Richard Thompson’s wonderful “1952 Vincent Black Lightning.” Thompson is one of the true guitar heroes at work today, but let’s not forget his lyrical abilities, either:

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

Thompson talks about writing the song and performs it in this video. Here’s another version, and here’s Del McCoury and his band doing it uptempo bluegrass-style. A little too cheerful, but still nice. (The second song in the clip, “Sinner Man,” is more striking.)

This month has seen the release of yet another Richard Thompson box set retrospective, “Walking on a Wire: Richard Thompson (1968-2009)” (Shout! Factory) As The Wall Street Journal’s Jim Fusili observed in his appreciation, “Very few rock musicians have tallied such an impressive body of work.” It’s a daunting collection, but with truly great songs (and well-crafted guitar solos) like “The Calvary Cross.” (Try this live version.) And Disc 3: “1952 Vincent Black Lightning!”

His official website is BeesWeb, with free downloads, too.

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