Richard and Linda Thompson – “Did She Jump or Was She Pushed?”

Hiya people! 🙂

A very interesting song I have for you today. I got first fascinated and hooked on British folk rock I guess some time in 2015 and it was around then that I first became familiar with this couple’s music, both what they have recorded together and separately. My favourite British folk rock artist from the 70’s is unquestionably Sandy Denny (who almost managed to become one of my major faza people but even though it didn’t happen due to Vreeswijk still standing strong in the dominant faza position I still love her music very much) and thus all of the bands that she was a member of. One of those bands and probably one with which she’s most strongly associated was Fairport Convention, through which I’ve also become acquainted with Richard Thompson’s music, as he was one of the founders of the band, as well as the lead guitarist and songwriter for it. I think he’s a really good lyricist and there are a fair few songs by him that I like mostly because of interesting or otherwise captivating lyrics.

This is one of the very first songs by them as a duo that I’ve ever heard, thanks to Last.fm where I’d made my first British folk rock discoveries, and aside from appreciating Linda’s vocals and the arrangement in general, I got intrigued immediately by the lyrics and every time I listened to these lyrics afterwards I kept wondering, did she jump, or was she pushed? 😀 I don’t like crime novels, detective fiction books, I don’t even read a lot of mystery, I think a lot of it is horribly overrated and just not my thing, but I like lyrics which are like stories. Then later on I was wondering whether “she” was someone specific so I did a bit of research, and no, she’s not, I don’t think so, although in one interview Richard Thompson said that, after writing this, he realised that

“it could be about Sandy Denny”,

or some other people he knew. He didn’t say specifically that it IS, and I doubt he had a clear intention of writing a song about her specifically, also I haven’t heard of her death ever being suspected to be a murder, but, thinking about it in general, the similarity is a bit eerie. Sandy Denny had a lot of mental health issues, a lot of it sounds like she could be bipolar, and one way in which she regularly self-harmed, or, as some people say, tried to get attention, was by throwing herself down from stairs, which was supposed to be something like a party trick. She also abused alcohol and drugs so she experienced a lot of accidental falls due to that as well. One time she hit her head on concrete when falling down a staircase during holidays in Cornwall. She had a lot of headaches afterwards and was prescribed a painkiller which can potentially be fatal in combination with alcohol. In April 1978, she stayed at her friend’s house alone, and was eventually found unconscious at the foot of the stairs. She went into a coma due to brain haemorrhage and died in hospital a few days later. So upon discovering this connection, albeit so dark and eerie, between this song and Sandy, I grew to appreciate it even more.

This song comes from the couple’s last collaborative album before their breakup – “Shoot Out The Lights” – and is the only song on the album and I guess also the only or one of very few songs of the duo to which the lyrics weren’t written solely by Richard but co-written with his then-wife.

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