I was put onto Richard Thompson by a work colleague when I was based at Creswell (kookaburra territory) on the south coast in Australia. He was so enamoured with Richard Thompson’s music and recommended the album Mock Tudor that had just come out. I listened to it a lot, but one track that caught my attention was today’s featured song Cooksferry Queen. I still love hearing it. If someone was to ask me ‘right now’ what is my quintessential folk-country track, then it would be a toss-up between Cooksferry Queen and Josh Turner’s version of Wagon Wheel (Take 2).
Well, there’s a house in an alley
In the squats and low-rise
Of a town with no future
But that’s where my future lies
It’s a secret, but no secret
It’s a rule, but no rule
Where you find the darkest avenue
There you’ll find the brightest jewel
Now my name, it is Mulvaney
And I’m known quite famously
People speak my name in whispers
What higher praise can there be
As you might of gleaned by the song’s opening above, the lyrics are exceptional. The following is paraphrased from Songfacts:
It’s a love song about a local hard man enraptured with a young woman, who most likely drank in the CooksFerry Inn, Edmonton (at which many bands possibly including Thompson/Fairport) played. To the singer the object of his desire wears “dresses that float in the wind” with “Pre-Raphaelite curls in her hair” (she’s a hippy, and he would swap his smart clothes for tie-dyed shirts and jeans if she wanted). Even more, he says she can perform New Testament miracles, to the extent “she can make a believer out of me”. It is a truly brilliant song.
Mock Tudor is the ninth studio album by Richard Thompson. According to wiki: In this album Thompson draws predominantly on the musical styles of 1960s England—the time and place of his youth. The lyrics have a nostalgic tinge and are rich with allusion to fairy tales and children’s books as well as to Shakespeare and T. S. Eliot.
By the way Richard Thompson’s son Teddy does a wonderful version of Leonard Cohen’s Tonight, Will be Fine at his tribute concert. He also appears with his father in the live version of Cooksferry Queen below.