Sunday, May 20th, 2007
The most laid-back of the songs on Moss Elixir is "Alright Yeah". It is a beautiful way to finish the record -- he's sorry to be going but he's sure we'll meet up again -- the lines "I've gotta split/ It's a quaint old-fashioned way/ to say good-bye.../ good-bye..." reliably crack me up, especially because of the beauty of the chord change at the end there, from Bsus4 to E (chords transcribed here). Here is how Mr. Hitchcock introduces the song in Storefront Hitchcock (he has just finished playing "Freeze", from Queen Elvis):
I'll remove the third cone, and there's Captain Keegan and the tomato.
Totally exterior [not sure this is transcribed correctly], and why not?
Um, this is a really comfortable song. It's, it's, it's a musical equivalent of a sofa or a contour-fitted chair. It's unable to cause you any pain whatsoever. I mean, I mean unless actually hearing the harmonics of this kind of thing is painful, but it's designed not to upset you in the least, it's, it's not even bland. You know, you couldn't say "this is annoyingly comfortable." It's like, I was in a lobby once in Minneapolis, and -- the fact is, there was a whole hotel on top of it as well -- and I was in the lobby, and it was icy outside -- there were people with icepicks just hauling themselves along the surface, like they do when, you know, when they turn the screen horizontal. And they were inching their way along Nicollet Mall, and there was a howling blizzard, and inside it was just, there was this Muzak playing in the lobby, and I had a hangover. And I was carrying a meat cleaver, and I went up to the desk, and I said, um, "Could you turn the Muzak down please", and they said "I'm sorry sir, we can't", and... I took my cleaver out... and I said "Why not?" And they said, "because it's pleasing."
Okay... if you start, then I'll follow you.
After Hitchcock and Keegan play "Alright Yeah" -- the performance is if anything even better than on Moss Elixir -- come the credits, along a split-screen shot of Robyn playing "I Don't Remember Guilford".
You know when you think you're right about things, that can make you very -- bitter. And if the rest of the world hasn't happened to go along with your...way of seeing things... and if the rest of the world includes someone you've been close to, then you feel worse.
I don't understand the song but it is a lovely impressionistic piece.
Friday, May 18th, 2007
Today I am 37 -- cool, a prime! I will try and come home early and fix us a barbecue for dinner.
Tuesday, May 8th, 2007
A bunch of records that I had ordered from various places showed up in the mail yesterday, which I'm happy about. They include Mossy Liquor, an alternate cut of Moss Elixir, which I am meaning to give the same treatment I gave Perpex Island -- it is equally great an album. Also two records by Deni Bonet, who playes violin on Moss Elixir and who toured with Hitchcock for a while in the late 90's. And Volume 4 of the Suzuki method -- I have decided to try re-learning the Seitz concertos therein.
Deni Bonet has put up some videos of herself with other musicians on YouTube. Audio and video quality is a little spotty; but I particularly liked Driving Aloud and Arms of Love, with Robyn Hitchcock, and Phillip Larkin, with Kimberly Rew. And if her web site is up to date, she is broadcasting a "Duets with Deni" show every Sunday at 10 pm, at Manhattan Neighborhood Network (Channel 56).
Saturday, May 5th, 2007
More patter!Hitchcock has just finished playing You and Oblivion.
I don't come from anywhere particularly, but inasmuch as I come from anywhere, I come from this diamond-shaped island at the bottom of England, it slots into the bottom as if Great Britain was laying an egg, and it's this diamond-shaped egg, which is the Isle of Wight. And ah, there's some very beautiful bits of cliff and beach there. But it's very soft, the bottom of the island is disappearing at the rate of about ah, ten feet a year. Stuff just goes, and it doesn't seem to come back. And ah, so I worked out that, that the cliffs where I pace, in another hundred years' time will disappear completely, and that my ghost will be fifty feet above the beach. There must be other ghosts out to sea, as the ghosts get further out to sea their costumes get older, so you've got you know, ghosts from the fifties about twenty feet out, and ghosts from World War II ghosts just beyond that, and you've got Great War ghosts with their goggles, and Edwardian ghosts with their mantles and Victorian ghosts with their cravats and canes, ah Jacobean ghosts with their... legs. And it just goes back on, whatever they had, those things to stop 'em smelling too bad. And about a mile out, there must be Cro-Magnon ghosts, clubbing each other to death and grinning. Now I guess there's going to be a few more of those inland as well. Anyway, this is a song from my ghost to those who walk underneath it.
I mean which, which may well be computers actually. If ah, if any of you computers are watching this, in fifty years' time, we're the people that put you here. We're God. We're terribly sorry -- you know, God never apologized to us. He made us bow down and fucking worship him for thousands of centuries. Every time he slapped our face we had to go "Oh, great is thy mercy, Lord! Have another sacrifice, I've chopped off this arm, will a leg do. Elmer, get off the leg!" Ah, so anyway, we apologize, we're not responsible, we created you, we're extinct.
Hitchcock plays Airscape,
Storefront Hitchcock is a beatiful concert film. It is from right around the time of Moss Elixir/Mossy Liquor; a lot of songs from that album are featured. Deni Bonet is playing on a couple of songs and boy is she a fine musician. Tonight I am watching it and I wanted to transcribe some of Hitchcock's patter, which I found pretty fun and engaging, and vaguely apropos to this evening's Mineshaft discussion. He has just finished "Feels Like 1974" and introduced Bonet:
If you stand up properly, it's possible to make yourself -- with this technique, it's called "Alexander Technique", for actors, and people who have, ah, incredibly bad posture but enough money to try and get over it. Ah, you can actually make yourself grow two or three inches by doing it correctly. They align you as if, as if your spine was an, an endless plate of crockery. And kind of line it up properly so it won't tip. Most of our spines zig-zag heinously, and you can go up for miles.
They're planning... as you know, people get taller -- the average human height increases by one and a half inches every hundred years. Most of our an-- Julius Cæsar would have only come up to your pelvis. You could have broiled him, you know. He would have been no trouble -- those legions -- they were just midgets.
I went to an astrologer's house in um, wherever that place is with the rose-colored rocks, ah, Arizona... built for astrolog, sorry astronomers in the fifth century BC, and all the doors were really tiny, they were like the size of cucumber frames. So I pictured all these cucumbers, going into the astronomers' house and like spiraling up the stairs. And um, well what they're planning to do is make people -- not only because people are eating more and more pure beef, which as you know is probably the best possible foodstuff that the world can produce. One of the reasons we were created, that ah Siemens and Glaxo and Virgin and Disney got together and said "Let there be humanity" was, so that we could eat beef... and I'm very proud of our wonderful country that they haven't forgotten that...
Thank you. And ah, let's just hope the conservatives get in again, shall we... And ah, if you're watching this in the future, I come from a time when there was a two-party system, but things have veered toward an inevitable monopoly -- people have complained about the eastern bloc being a monopoly for years. This is exactly what's happened in the west, there's just -- when the final Big Fish fellates the last Medium-sized Fish and, and absorbs it, thoomp like that, there will just be one Big Fish with a distended stomach... Anyway, back to the beef, let's not forget it, ah people are supposed to just be getting bigger and bigger, and as you know, Neil Armstrong was seven foot seven; all those -- you've already been to the Smithsonian, you've seen those capsules, the Mercury Capsule and the Gemini Capsule, they're very tiny, they actually look like the Stonehenge in the Spinal Tap thing, where it comes down on a spider's web. This is a posthumous public relations thing by NASA; in fact these men were giants, cause they were put into a, into a (also actually in Arizona) government site, and fed radioactive carbonated beef for two years until they became very tall. Their capsules were huge, and ah, anyway they're planning for the rest of us to follow suit, and I got so angry I wrote this song:
Hitchcock and Bonet play Filthy Bird.
Yeah, um this is, this is another one. Thing is, people, I don't know why people ever actually introduce songs, because, the song itself is an introduction to itself. It's like if you meet somebody named Martha, they say, "This is Martha"; I mean, you know, that person happens to be known as Martha, just as I might be called Bloomingdale's, or, or you know, Deni might be called Statenisland. But that's really only the beginning of the story. There's a whole mass of molecules, and complexes, and, things bound together by terrifying physical improbabilities, and the truth is, she could fly apart at any moment. Like some terrible pent-up lock that's waiting to snap and spatter her psyche across the universe. God knows... It is disgusting Deni, it's life, and if it weren't for our ribcages, it would just be spleens à-go-go. I mean, you know people are just held in by all this, and then they're called almost insultingly by a single name. And the same with a song, I could say what a song's called, which isn't going to be much of a clue, unless you've heard it before, or I can explain what it's about, and I'm gonna be lying. So in the end it's very much, there's ah not much point in it.
That's interesting, there's some people polishing a gun carriage over there. One of those big brass eighteenth-century things, for storing in time capsules. There's a very thin line between torture and cosmetics. I wonder, now's our chance to cross it. Okay, take a deep breath and yip-a-dang.
Hitchcock and Bonet play Let's Go Thundering.
More transcription another time.
Sunday, April 29th, 2007
The Asking Tree has not AOTW got any lyrics for this tune off of Spooked. In an attempt to remediate that situation:
(crackle crackle, pop.) repeated throughout song
Welcome to the earth, home of the great women and men. We are animals that have ideas. Maybe cats and ravens have ideas too, but they keep them to themselves. Travelers from the whole galaxy throng to our luscious planet with its evolution-friendly climate and nourishing minerals. Take time to locate the exit nearest you. Press 1 for famine, 2 for pestilence, 3 for condoleeza, and 4 for death. Please note that pestilence closes at 6.
(crackle crackle, pop. crackle crackle, pop.)
Okay that was it.
And God said "Oh, ignore him! I've got all your albums"
I said "Yes, but who's got all the tunes?"
I told a friend recently that a good Robyn Hitchcock record to start out with would be Spooked, if you are looking for folksy alternative music, or Perspex Island, if you are looking for rock and roll; or, classic, iconic eighties Hitchcock sound like I Often Dream of Trains or Invisible Hitchcock. I did not recommend Black Snake Dîamond Rôle in the latter category, not totally sure why. Now tonight I am thinking about logical next places to go: respectively depending on which first step you took, it would be Moss Elixir and then probably Eye, either Respect or Olé! Tarantula, or Globe of Frogs.
A Google search for "Brockengespenst" returns no results as of this writing.* But a search for "Brockengespenstphänomen" directs one to two very pretty photos, one of which is not of the phenomenon in question, but the other is. (Oops, actually the search for "Brockengespenstphänomen" returns a bunch of mostly Pynchon-oriented results. But without the umlaut you get those nice photos.)
*Hmmm... Not sure where my head was Sunday night. Blume points out that there are many thousands of Google results for "Brockengespenst", including some very pretty images. Here is one very nice page.
Monday, April 23rd, 2007
Thinking about music -- I am feeling right now like on the verge of some kind of personal breakthrough, one where I suddenly acquire a sense of purpose and a mode of personal expression -- and that listening to and playing music will somehow be the vehicle of this awakening. I keep coming back to the song Ride -- All I have to do in this world, is ride, All I gotta do is ride. That if I listen hard enough I will find a way of losing myself in the song, a way that will work consistently.
Sunday, April 22nd, 2007
I have been experiencing a synæsthetic perception of Robyn Hitchcock's music that is coming into sharper focus over the last few weeks -- I am understanding listening to the music and lyrics as as a kind of movement across a landscape and through tunnels and passageways. I'm wondering if I can expand this into a way to relate to music in general -- I believe I have experienced it before though I have never given voice to it or quite understood what was going on.
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