Odd Stray Thoughts About Robyn Hitchcock And Friends
By Barb Lien
- Definitely music for endomorphs (ah, use your dictionary).
- 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.
- 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).
- Nice bits 1: RH is genuinely funny.
- But he's also a very good serious songwriter
- 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.
- Robyn wouldn't be Robyn if he didn't write at least one line per
LP that didn't make us cringe.
- At his best, Robyn is less Dali or Bosch as he is Man Ray or
- Annoying bits 2 'Agony Of Pleasure' is an awful song. The sound
of a cat being neutered. Sadist.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Everyone knows when you're miles beyond cool you listen to Katrina
and the Waves. (Yea, Kim!!!!!)
- Not everyone knows Women And Captains First is actually terrific.
- 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.
- I'm almost positive that the leather coat on Invisible Hitchcock
is an exact copy of one Dylan wore in 1965.
- 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.
- 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'.
- Why are my favourite songs not put on record while dross like
'Clean Steve' and 'Wafflehead' clog up valuable time?
- Spectre is a much more appropriate name than Respect.
- 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
- Conversational gambits you should never try with a certain cult
figure: "You know, I read NME constantly as a teen and Ian Penman was
- Whatever happened to that chequered suit he wore in '86 another
- 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.
- Does anyone have any idea what Unsettled's about? I'd like to
- 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,
- The main state of the SBs' music wasn't psychosis, it was
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