Friday, April 01, 2022

Does time show the wiser? Fairport Convention from 1967 and 2017

Fairport Convention recorded their version of Emitt Rhodes' "Time Will Show the Wiser" in November of 1967, and it was included in the band's self titled debut album. The musicians on the song were Richard Thompson and Simon Nicol on guitar, Ashley "Tyger" Hutchings on bass. Shaun Frater, who left the band shortly after, on drums, Ian MacDonald, later known as Iain Matthews, on lead vocal, and Thompson and Judy Dyble on harmony vocals. Thanks to an earlier blog post Judy and I became connected on line; in time this evolved into a warm and lively trans-Atlantic virtual friendship. In July of 2020 I was devastated by her untimely death at 71

Remarkably, almost the same lineup of musicians -- Thompson, Nicol, Hutchings, Dyble, and Iain Matthews (the former Ian MacDonald), joined by long time Fairport drummer Dave Mattacks -- performed "Time Will Show the Wiser" fifty years later, at the 2017 Cropredy Festival. There's a video; unfortunately it's only available by taking this link to YouTube. Please do, and compare it to the 1967 version. I find the instrumental work in 2017, unsurprisingly, more mellow, but still stirring. What surprised me is that, in the battle of the personae, I found Matthews (2017) more interesting than MacDonald (1967). In his youth -- he was 21 when the song was first recorded -- he was earnest and straightforward, reflecting the plaintiveness of his longing for a friend's girlfriend or wife. At age 71, the earnestness and plaintiveness are still there, but his delivery also evinced some perspective and even -- especially in his ad lib at 2:20 -- a bit of humor.

Let me know what you think.