And Thompson is a very good singer, as is her son, who has toured with her and who made a similar observation about the genre when we spoke about his new album. Perhaps Versatile Heart’s best showcase for Thompson’s voice is “Day After Tomorrow,” which, it turns out, was recorded at one of her rare live performances. Written by Tom Waits and his collaborator/wife, Kathleen Brennan, it’s a protest song that makes its point with love. The lyrics are the letter of a soldier writing home to Illinois days before his hitch is up, and Waits and Brennan tapped their character’s soul.
As Thompson sings in gentle arcs about the soldier’s desire to hold his family and re-embrace banalities like shoveling snow, to reclaim what his life is about in the face of war’s mortal threat, one wishes she’d be less reluctant to take the stage. “But I don’t want to do it this time. I’d like to do more of a book tour, where I go to radio stations and talk and play tracks. I just don’t want to give any live performance right now, although I’m not ruling it out forever.”
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