A bit of underappreciated scholarship for your Friday entertainment.
Back at the turn of the millennium, Playboy magazine asked a variety of artists for a list of their top songs of the last 1,000 years. While most respondents didn’t go much further back than Louis Armstrong or Beethoven, the great Richard Thompson took them at their word, “and served up a list that included the oldest-known English-language songs, a medieval Italian dance tune and various other folk songs alongside slightly more contemporary fare.”
The list was never published in Playboy, but Thompson instead used it as the basis of a touring show, captured here. He starts the set with “Summer is Icumen In” from 1259 and winds his way up to the modern day in the form of perhaps the finest version of “Oops!.. I Did It Again” that you’re likely to hear.
It’s great stuff from one of the greatest living guitarists, and a fine reminder of the joys to be found in the appreciation of the historical record.