Home Chronology Antwoman Positive Vibrations Mailing List Archives Links

P o s i t i v e V i b r a t i o n s


Odd Stray Thoughts About Robyn Hitchcock And Friends

By Barb Lien
  1. Definitely music for endomorphs (ah, use your dictionary).
  2. Irritating bits 1: Every so often Robyn takes forever to come to the crunch, songwise. 'Cynthia Mask' ambles on for three or so verses before we discover if the man's even going to show up in the damned thing, and another verse entirely to get to perhaps his most gorgeous verse ever, "I'll reach your lungs_"; so beautiful, but it's really annoying to have to listen to this ill-focused twaddle about Napoleon and chickens. And 'The Crawling' doesn't even get to the point until the middle "Why do you ask me?/Why do you touch me?/Because there's nothing there/It's only flesh and blood_". Then, it ends with a brilliant last verse and coda to become one of his best songs, except you have to sit through two pointless verses first. I know some people like to watch him deviate, but, I have a life to lead, so I really prefer people who come to the point by the second verse or so.
  3. Meanest lyric: from 'I Watch The Cars' "I hear you're going to try that too/I wouldn't pay to go to you." As the previous verse is about prostitution and the lines seem aimed at an ex-girlfriend, these lines are, ooh, mean (It's odd, I love them, possibly because of the cruelty in them).
  4. Nice bits 1: RH is genuinely funny.
  5. But he's also a very good serious songwriter
  6. Words I never care to hear again about RH/the SB's: wacky, weird, witty, strange, odd, oddball, cracked, loony, or, and this one really gets on my wick, eccentric.
  7. Robyn wouldn't be Robyn if he didn't write at least one line per LP that didn't make us cringe.
  8. At his best, Robyn is less Dali or Bosch as he is Man Ray or Magritte.
  9. Annoying bits 2 'Agony Of Pleasure' is an awful song. The sound of a cat being neutered. Sadist.
  10. If Nigel and the Crosses or any conglomeration of Robyn and buddies go on stage again to do oldies, I wish they'd respect the audience enough to practice enough, until the numbers are tight. I hate paying good money to see some cult figures forget the words and chords of my favourite songs to somehow prove that they love that music.
  11. Why doesn't anyone but Robyn comment on his wonderful talent for descriptive songs ('Winter Love', 'Autumn Is Your Last Chance')? He can evoke a mood or season better than just about anyone.
  12. Annoying bits 3: Every so often when Robyn plays acoustically he gets up onstage and jokes with his friends and acquaintances to the exclusion of the rest of the audience; he's playing for them, not the rest of us, and we're supposed to be too cool to complain. Screw cool it's goddamn thoughtless.
  13. Everyone knows when you're miles beyond cool you listen to Katrina and the Waves. (Yea, Kim!!!!!)
  14. Not everyone knows Women And Captains First is actually terrific. Really.
  15. I never want to hear comparisons between RH, XTC, Julian Cope and Pat Fish. I like 'em all, but I hate the idea that people want to lock them in the same filing cabinet.
  16. I'm almost positive that the leather coat on Invisible Hitchcock is an exact copy of one Dylan wore in 1965.
  17. Am I the only one who doesn't think much of Hitch's powers as an interpretative artist? His covers just aren't very good. So, he can copy a song note for note.
  18. On the other hand, other people can't cover him. All SBs/RH covers are bad. Me, I want Chrissie Hynde to cover 'Another Bubble'.
  19. Why are my favourite songs not put on record while dross like 'Clean Steve' and 'Wafflehead' clog up valuable time?
  20. Spectre is a much more appropriate name than Respect.
  21. I know form experience that it is possible to find Robyn songs without 'wacky' lyrics and people will like them. If I can do this why can't A&M?
  22. Conversational gambits you should never try with a certain cult figure: "You know, I read NME constantly as a teen and Ian Penman was my hero".
  23. Whatever happened to that chequered suit he wore in '86 another Dylan copy?
  24. A song you'd never know was powerful 'til you heard it live 'Linctus House'. By the last verse, Robyn starts baring his teeth, if not his soul. It's brilliant. Too bad it's lame on Eye.
  25. Does anyone have any idea what Unsettled's about? I'd like to compare theories.
  26. One should not perform Dylan's 'Seor' without knowing all the chords. ( I like Robyn, but Dylan's work deserves more respect. Bob's my uncle, as the British say, but my uncle Bobby came from Hibbing and is my reason for living and becoming a songwriter, so watch it, Mr Hitchcock No more awful versions of 'Went To See The Gypsy', either, okay?)
  27. The main state of the SBs' music wasn't psychosis, it was justifiable annoyance.

This article originally appeared in issue 2 of Positive Vibrations, the Soft Boys/Robyn Hitchcock/Kimberley Rew magazine. It may be distributed freely but may not be sold except with permission of the author or publisher.

Home Chronology Antwoman Positive Vibrations Mailing List Archives Links