Picks and Pans Review: Talking With...

updated 02/07/1994 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 02/07/1994 AT 01:00 AM EST

>Richard Thompson

HAPPINESS AND ANGST

PLENTY OF WORSHIPFUL CRITICS have lamented Richard Thompson's lack of commercial success. Ask the 44-year-old guitarist what he thinks, and he'll readily concede that his music isn't the stuff of pop chart hits. "I tend to gel championed by critics, but I think their expectations of me are just plain wrong," he says. "I think the kind of records that sell and get on the radio are not the kind that I make."

From his days with the folky Fairport Convention 25 years ago, through his more recent solo efforts, Thompson has never had a Top 40 album or single. Still, he has managed to attract fiercely loyal fans willing to accept the occasional mordant undertones in his writing.

Though known for creating songs riddled with angst (one recent fan-club cassette of his music was entitled Gloom and Doom from the Tomb), he insists that he's actually a "happy-go-lucky" guy offstage. "I think it's funny to expect someone to be an exact reflection of what they produce," he says. "I'm attracted to sad songs. It just seems people in society behaving strangely can make for far more interesting music."

Thompson, who splits his time between London and L.A., says that he'll go on making just that kind of music no matter how small its audience. "Rather than selling millions, I aim to sell 500,000 records," he says cheerily. "If I sold any more, I would feel guilty and would have to give the money back."

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