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A Life in Songs

Randy Thompson pours himself into the songs on his third CD.

When Randy Thompson writes a song, it comes from deep in his heart and way down in his gut. That's why the lyrics on his new CD, "That's Not Me," are “really personal," he said. "It's a lot like releasing your diary."

Nonetheless, he's opened up his innermost feelings to the public on his third CD, and on Friday, Feb. 27, it'll be released to country radio. Thompson will perform at Iota that night, opening for the band Last Train Home. "It's gonna be packed — that's a real popular band," said Thompson. "I'm looking forward to it; I've always wanted to play there."

His album already debuted on European airwaves on Feb. 1 and, Thompson said, "in just five days, it went to number one on the European indie chart.

This Tuesday, Feb. 17, it was released to Europe's Americana radio stations. "Americana radio is just to the left of country," said Thompson. "It includes everything from bluegrass to alternative rock with a twang to it. Europeans like rootsy American music — a little more country and bluesy, like Emmylou Harris and Waylon Jennings — rather than pop-oriented."

"That's Not Me" hit American stores, last week. The first single off it, "Sound Of The Rain" — a powerful, uptempo number — was released, Feb. 1.

His last album, "Wearin' Blue," first got him noticed in the music industry, but he expects even bigger things for his newest effort. "This time around, I have a record company and a team behind it," said Thompson. And with the help of national and international promoters and distributors, it will be available in Borders and Tower Records and on amazon.com.

Born in Frederick, Md., he's lived in Clifton since he was a boy growing up on Fairfax Station Road, just outside town. His Cub Scout Pack met at Clifton Elementary, and he graduated from Robinson Secondary School. These are his roots — and childhood memories, long-time friends and family are the ties that keep him here.

Thompson played guitar since age 10, mainly acoustic, and played in bands in high school. As for practicing, he said, "I just pick up the guitar whenever I want to. My son Colin, 12, also plays guitar, but I never have to tell him to practice. He just practices on his own because he's got it in him — and he's a phenomenal guitar player. If you're good, you just do it."

Writing songs since he was 12, Thompson loved the music of country legend Hank Williams and tried to emulate what he did. "I used to write at least a song a week, when I was a teen-ager," he said. "[Now], I usually write in the mornings; I have my coffee, pick up my guitar and see what comes out." Drawing his inspiration from real life, Thompson's songs are about "whatever is hitting me, at the time — I write what I feel."

He recorded his first album in 1988, just selling bandstand copies after gigs. Now, he's remastering and will re=release it later this year.

Thompson keeps tinkering with his lyrics until they please him, and he says the toughest part is "just getting the lines to all work together. I've had songs that took me 10 years to write, and some that I wrote in one day.

“I feel like my time is right now, and I feel really good about this album," said Thompson. "I think it's my best ever because I'm coming into my own as a songwriter."