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Richard Thompson, "1952 Vincent Black Lightning"

To me, the very best song lyrics are both poetic and tell a story. And one of the finest examples of this is Richard Thompson's "1952 Vincent Black Lightning". While Thompson's guitar work here is typically wonderful, what really makes the song great are the lyrics:

Says Red Molly to James, That's a fine motorbike
A girl could feel special on any such a like
Says James to Red Molly, My hat's off to you
That's a Vincent Black Lightning 1952
And I've seen you at the corners and cafes, it seems
Red hair and black leather, my favorite color scheme
And he pulled around behind
And down to Box Hill they'd ride

Says James to Red Molly, Here's a ring for your right hand
But I tell you in earnest, I'm a dangerous man
For I've fought with the law since I was seventeen
I robbed many a man to get my Vincent machine
Now I'm twenty-one years, I might make twenty-two
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 Sargeant McRae
For we've taken young James Agee for armed robbery
Shotgun blast in his chest left nothing inside
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
He says, 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 Grieveses won't do
They don't have a soul like Vincent '52
He reached for her hand and he slipped her the keys
Said, I've no further use for these
I see angels and 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

January 9, 2011 in Music | Permalink