"1952 Vincent Black Lightning" as written by and Richard Thompson....
Says Red Molly, to James, "Well that's a fine motorbike.
A girl could feel special on any such like."
Says James, to Red Molly, "My hat's off to you.
It's a Vincent Black Lightning, 1952.

And I've seen you on the corners and cafes, it seems.
Red hair and black leather, my favorite color scheme."
And he pulled her on behind,
And down to Boxhill,

They'd Ride.
Says James, to Red Molly, "Here's a ring for your right hand.
But I'll tell you in earnest I'm a dangerous man;
For I've fought with the law since I was seventeen.

I've robbed many a man to get my Vincent machine.
And now I'm twenty-one years, I might make twenty-two.
And I don't mind dyin' but for the love of you.
But if fate should break my stride, then I'll give you my Vincent, To Ride."

"Come down Red Molly," called Sargent McQuade.
"For they've taken young James Aidee for Armed Robbery.
Shotgun blast hit his chest, left nothing inside.
Oh, come down, Red Molly, to his dying bedside."

When she came to the hospital, there wasn't much left.
He was runnin' out of road. He was runnin' out of breath.
But he smiled, to see her cry.
And said, "I'll give you my Vincent.
To Ride."

Said James, "In my opinion, there's nothing in this world
Beats a '52 Vincent and a Redheaded girl.
Now Nortons and Indians and Greavses won't do.
Oh, they don't have a Soul like a Vincent '52."

Well he reached for her hand and he slipped her the keys.
He said, "I've got no further use...for these.
I see Angels on Ariels in leather and chrome,
Swoopin' down from Heaven to carry me home."

And he gave her one last kiss and died.
And he gave her his Vincent.
To Ride.

Lyrics submitted by ramthar

"1952 Vincent Black Lightning" as written by Richard Thompson

Lyrics © BMG Rights Management

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1952 Vincent Black Lightning song meanings
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  • +3
    My InterpretationNotice how James is an outlaw but he has no regrets about getting killed in a robbery attempt, and his vision of heaven is biker angels coming to meet him? Along with being a Thompsonian subversion of a traditional ballad form, it's a commentary on how passion and commitment win out over playing it safe.

    futatoriuson July 07, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI am so surprised nobody has commented on this song... Richard Thompson has such an amazing ability to tell sad but beautiful stories through his music... this song is a perfect example of his ability. Artists do not write lyrics like these anymore.
    dukeoveron April 18, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentIndeed. A traditional story-song at its best.
    freewneelon May 16, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis is such a wonderful song

    Amazing guitar and lyrics
    Really love it (:

    Richard Thompson is wonderful! i cant believe they have hardly any of his songs on here! They dont even have Beeswing! which is amazing n.n

    Great song
    ZiggyBamon June 12, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis song has been covered by quite a few artists, so far, I like the version sung by Josh Harty the best.
    RonLeeon May 08, 2012   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI always thought that this was Thompson's attempt to write his version of Dylan's "Lily, Rosemary, & the Jack of Hearts." He even snarls like Bob in a few places. But the song doesn't suffer for that... in fact, it's a better song than "Lily" and half as long. I'm surprised that Bob only covered it once it concert, as it's so obviously a tribute to him. Thompson adds a few British touches that lends a twist to the traditional outlaw tale. Great stuff.
    stolenmomenton September 25, 2015   Link
  • 0
    General Commenttrue love
    sdz896542on January 26, 2016   Link
  • 0
    General Comment"Red hair and black leather, my favorite color scheme."

    My favorite verse. You can just see that girl, can't you? And fall hard for her.
    Anarquistadoron June 29, 2016   Link
  • -1
    General CommentSuch a great song. Also, Molly totally turned him in for the bike.
    m00nmanon December 15, 2010   Link

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