INTERVIEW: The British whimsy of Robyn Hitchcock


Robyn Hitchcock, the man who invented himself. [Photo provided]

For the past 20 years, one of my all-time favorite singer-songwriters has been Mr. Robyn Hitchcock. He’s been writing neo-psychedelic pop/rock tunes for four decades now, starting with The Soft Boys and later as a solo artist, with the Egyptians and with the Venus 3.

I’m not usually attracted to psychedelic stuff, but Hitchcock wraps weighty questions about the nature of human existence in a dream-like whimsy that invokes anything from trolly-buses and “balloon men” to glass hotels, Buzz Aldrin and three-legged chinchillas. A review I read the other day said he’s like Bob Dylan as filtered through Doctor Who, so maybe that explains why I love it. His between-song banter at concerts can be hilariously bizarre, too.

I interviewed Hitchcock about 10 years ago, around the release of his Olé Tarantula album. This time we got to chat because he was performing in Ithaca, and I recorded it for radio broadcast. (It aired March 16 on WHRW’s The Signal, and you can read the print version here.)

The 63-year-old musician talked from his home in Nashville (where he’s lived since last fall) about songwriting, zebras, David Bowie and what to expect on his next album. It’s a fun, suitably rambling conversation, and it reminded me again why he’s so fun and thoughtful at the same time. My biggest regret is that I had time for only three songs.

The Ithaca show with Emma Swift (March 24 at the Dock) was pretty amazing – lots of my favorites from the 1980s and ’90s, mixed with especially hilarious stories. Someone taped it, and I can’t wait to experience it again soon.


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