Saturday, August 25, 2012

Verlon Thompson - A Guitar Pickers Guitar Picker

Jim T. and Verlon Thompson

Click above to listen to Jim T's interview with Verlon Thompson!
(right click/save this link to download the MP3)

I don't remember how I got hooked up with Verlon Thompson. I do remember when we first met. I had a pretty swanky office back then with Hatch show prints on the walls and my guitars all around. Verlon came in and we talked some business and then we just chatted. I could tell right way Verlon was good people. I had my mando hanging on the wall and he said he had just written a song about his mother and would I like to hear it? Of course, who doesn't want to hear a song about someone's mama? Well Verlon sawed one off and killed me with his song called "Darwetta's Mandolin."

Then there's the story of Greasy Bend, OK where his mama grew up. They lived on the banks of the Quachita River and right across from their house a battle was fought. He said a hog farmer got into it with a water melon farmer and it ended in a battle on the bank of the bend of the river. There were dead pigs and water melons everywhere and that is how it got the name "Greasy Bend." His mama was a mando picker and song singer. Verlon liked to say she was the Francis Scott Key of Greasy Bend.

 I always felt pretty close to Verlon and over the years we have kept in touch. One day while driving down the road my cell phone rang. It was my great Uncle on my Dad's side. He gave my Uncle Kenneth his first guitar in 1956 (I still have that guitar). He said, "Jimmie I met a friend of yours today!" The last time I saw my great Uncle was at my Dad's funeral so I wondered who the hell he might have met. "Do you know a guitar picker by the name of Verlon Thompson?" It turns out Verlon's people and my people all live around each other. That solidified to me that Verlon and I were officially related in some way or another.

I have always thought of Verlon as friend but then I heard a song he did called "The Guitar." Oh I was smitten. I was crazy over that song. I have a serious guitar problem. I also have a serious amp and effects pedal problem but I mainline guitars mostly. This song is about a fella that walks into a guitar store and see's one up on the wall and decides he should play it. After that more than a few magical things happen. I won't spoil the ending for you but what a song! My favorite line is, "He said you tell me what it's worth You're the one who wants it Turn it up, play a song And let's just see what haunts it." I realized that I had just crossed over to being a huge fan as well as a friend!

As long as I'm reeling off favorite songs Verlon has anot"er one called "Joe Walker's Mare." As Verlon says, "This song is about a horse, but it's also about loyalty, dedication and honor... and a horse."  I loved that song so much I had to learn it and at times I force people to listen to me sing it.

Rewind to the first of this summer and you would have found me at 3rd and Lindsley bar to hear Verlon and my other hero Guy Clark. Guy and Verlon have been touring together for years now. I was as for in the back as was possible in this place. I was so far back that I took it upon myself to direct folks that looked lost to the bathroom...which was only feet from where I stood. A ways into the show I heard Verlon hitting those notes to Joe Walker's Mare. Oh did I let out a Texas yell. Now there's no way Verlon could see me and he didn't know I would be there but he leaned up to the mic and said that this one was going out to his old friend Jim T.! Lordy did put another Texas yell into the air. There I was mouthin' the words, tapping the beat on my jeans and fully engulfed in what I realized was hardcore fandom. I have been a fan of someone then a friend but I think this is the first time did in reverse.

I say all that to say this - Verlon Thomspon is good people. If he couldn't pick a guitar or write a song he would be equally valuable to the human race. The fact that he happens to be a helluva a guitar picker and a piercing song writer doesn't hurt. So here's to Verlon who is out there on the road somewhere right now warming people's hearts and souls. I'm a big fan.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for posting this interview - great stuff for us Verlon fans!