NEM#181: Robyn Hitchcock Forgets Himself, Sharply

Robyn has been producing a distinctive flavor of very British rock with surrealist lyrics for 35+ albums since 1979, and he describes his technique as no so much expanding the doors of perception but merely not editing the weird things we think, which involves composing without self-consciousness.

We discuss “The Raging Muse” (and close by listening to “The Shuffle Man”) from Shufflemania (2022), “Mad Shelly’s Letterbox” from Robyn Hitchcock (2017), “Television” from Spooked (2004), and “Glass” from Fegmainia! (1985). Intro: “I Wanna Destroy You” by The Soft Boys from Underwater Moonlight (1980). More at robynhitchcock.com, and you can support Robyn and hear demos as they emerge at patreon.com/robynhitchcock.

Watch the videos for “The Raging Muse” and “The Shuffle Man.” And here’s one for “I Wanna Destroy You.” Watch some famous videos from the 80’s: “Balloon Man,” “Madonna of the Wasps,” and “One Long Pair of Eyes.” This was when they were opening for REM on tour with Peter Buck playing as part of Robyn’s band, The Egyptians. Another very poppy one (probably my favorite tune of his) from not too long after that is “So You Think You’re in Love.”

Watch a full live show from 2021. That’s mostly solo with some harmonies by his partner Emma Swift. Here’s a live TV appearance by the initial Egyptians line-up back in 1985. Watch Robyn live in 2012 play “Television” backed by my past guest Scott McCaughey as well as Peter Buck, et al. And here’s the same song live with Gillian Welch and David Rawlings who played on the album.

Robyn mentions his work with recently deceased director Jonathan Demme, who shot a whole live film of Robyn playing largely solo, Storefront Hitchcock, which has been uploaded in part to YouTube. We also talk about his acoustic albums I Often Dream of Trains and Eye.

Interview audio editing by Tyler Hislop. Photo by Emma Swift.

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