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The Great Valerio

[ Roud - ; DT GRTVALRO ; Richard Thompson]

Richard and Linda Thompson recorded The Great Valerio for the first time in 1974 for their second duo album, I Want to See the Bright Lights Tonight.

Swan Arcade sang The Great Valerio on their 1976 album Matchless.

Maggie Holland sang The Great Valerio in 1983 on her album Still Pause.

Maddy Prior, accompanied by Martin Carthy on guitar, sang The Great Valerio in 1994 on the Richard Thompson tribute CD Beat the Retreat. She also sang Farewell, Farewell on this album.

June Tabor sang The Great Valerio in 1997 on her CD Aleyn.

Pete Wood sang The Great Valerio on his 2007 CD Manchester Angel. He noted:

Many years ago, I heard Swan Arcade sing this Richard Thompson song at Whitby Folk Festival. It’s been in my head ever since, but it was not until I started playing the piano again that I found a way of doing it myself. But it needed something else. Enter my old mate Tom McConville who, as expected, has raised my efforts to a whole new level. Needless to say, the song is about more than a circus tightrope walker.

Jeana Leslie and Siobhan Miller sang The Great Valerio with the added tune Sky High on their 2010 CD Shadows Tall. They noted:

This song about life, love, hero-worship and relationships uses circus imagery in a masterful way; the effect is superbly visual. Jeana adds a tune with a big-top high-wire feel, inspired by a 2010 visit to a rotating restaurant at the top of the Hyatt hotel, Kansas City.

Eliza Carthy sang The Great Valerio on her 2024 album No Wasted Joy. She noted:

I grew up listening to Swan Arcade singing this. I won’t pretend otherwise, as I just put on Linda and Richard’s recording for the very first time to check and yes, I’m totally influenced by that trio. This was what we heard in the folk clubs in the eighties, at Beverley or Whitby festival, when I was young, just as scruffy as I am now, and courting the idea of becoming a circus performer. The romance amp; drama, the personal politics, all of it. It is included here partly as a result of performing the song solo at the Albert Hall for Richard’s sold out 70th birthday concert, where I was perfectly composed until the second line, when I realised I was singing solo and unaccompanied at the Albert Hall. Cue fear, gratitude that my corset was holding me up, and realisation that the next time I sing there will be on the way down! Wait…’ve sung there before…


Please find the lyrics for this song at Richard Thompson’s website.