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

a woman's shadow

By Dr. Sticky

Fish, trains, vegetables and ghosts!

Anyone faintly familiar with the unique language and imagery in Robyn Hitchcock's songs will be experts on all the above. Let's instead look at a less obvious but frequently recurring theme in the songs, namely the blurring or confusion of the sexes.

"Even Marilyn Monroe was a man" sang the man who named an album Queen Elvis and warned "Girl, you wanna be a man and you will, yeah". Clearly, the question of gender and sexual identity is one of Robyn's favourites! He has at times wished he was a pretty girl (if only to wreck himself in the shower) and sung about the effects of a strange cream on a woman that causes the change to come (to a man?). "The hair grows all over her skin" he cheerfully croons.

The choice of 'Gigolo Aunt' as a cover is another example of Robyn's interest in all things sexually ambiguous (a gigolo being a male prostitute, aunts - in my experience - are usually female).

"The line between us is so thin I might as well be you", "Sometimes when I'm lonely, baby then I'm only you" and "You'll grow out of me just like a plant" are all good examples of identity loss or merging of the sexes. This blending is taken to its ultimate conclusion when Robyn actually imagines himself travelling through a woman's body - no less than H.R.H. Elizabeth II in 'Veins Of The Queen'.

This loss of oneself inside another is presented as some form of salvation in the song 'Satellite' with the line "Next time I get into you I swear to God I won't come out again".

The single 'If You Were A Priest' also carries contradictory sexual statements as Robyn covers the priest's (male?) charts "with decorated hearts" having just imagined him/her as a nun!! (And you still wonder why Robyn never gets daytime radio play?)

'Innocent Boy' confuses the issue more than most. Is it the boy that Robyn sees in his dressing gown? Is it the girl or the boy that is being expected to share? Finally 'Look Into Your Mirror' contains the disturbing line "Your kisses flooded me with joy and then you told me 'I wish I was a boy'". Not having studied Freudian psychology, I shall spare you my own theories on all this. Suffice it to say, most psychologists recognise that we all contain both male and female characteristics to a greater or lesser degree. I would defend Robyn's openness on these matters as brave and much more healthy than the is he/isn't he coyness of the Bowie/Suede/Morrissey school, for example.

So, "the man that mows his lawn" may well "hang in drag before the dawn", and the "girl inside" will continue to haunt the living room and the dressing room of our beloved singer.

Now, I'm off to have a shave and slip my frock on!

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