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(March 2005)

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Improvement makes straight roads; but the crooked roads without improvement are roads of genius.

— William Blake


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Saturday, May 5th, 2007

Patter

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.

posted evening of May 5th, 2007: Respond
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Patter

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,

posted evening of May 5th, 2007: Respond
➳ More posts about Robyn Hitchcock's patter

Sunday, May 20th, 2007

The Musical Equivalent of a Sofa

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.

posted evening of May 20th, 2007: Respond
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Friday, September 7th, 2007

Backup Vocals

It is lovely to watch Robyn Hitchcock's interactions with his backup singers and musicians I am watching him sing "Cynthia Mask" with Grant Lee Phillips right now and see a similar vibe to what I have caught going on watching him with the Egyptians and with Captain Keegan. (A different species of interaction between him and Deni Bonet, a less overtly sexual one I think.)

If you count yourself among the few readers of this blog and I have not yet raved at/to you about Robyn and the Egyptians performing an acoustic version of "Birds In Perspex (Come Alive)", well, I am doing so now by implication. Go watch it, really I can't imagine your thinking the time poorly spent unless you are Sifu Tweety Fish, whose musical tastes are a cipher to me. (And talk to me about it -- regardless of what I said above I would really like to know what reactions people have to that song, including those reactions that are less wholly enthusiastic than my own.)

posted evening of September 7th, 2007: Respond
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Saturday, June 5th, 2010

Music in the fiddle

A mix with some of my favorite fiddle music, and a couple of my own performances... link and notes below the fold.

read the rest...

posted evening of June 5th, 2010: 2 responses
➳ More posts about Fiddling

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