Robyn Hitchcock: Why He’s “Lopsided”

The Soft Boy and abiding eccentric, in his own words and by his own hand.

Robyn Hitchcock Self Portrait

I would describe myself as… the last egg to hatch out from the 1960s. I try to transmit that sense of possibility, which hung so thick in the air when I was growing up. I’m not trying to steer anything back to the old days, it would never get there. My songs are written to old rules but they are from recent times. As a person I tend to be mentally over-developed and emotionally undeveloped. Lopsided. And I have to learn not to take others with me if I capsize.

Music changed me… by giving me purpose in life, a role, a language, and an emotional highway I would never have ventured down otherwise. And I’ve had the joy of getting to know other people who are in the same condition. Peter Buck and Mike Mills are in my band tonight, and in Peter’s too. Playing with musicians like John Paul Jones and Jenny Adejayan is out of this world, and would have been out of my league once.

When I’m not making music… I feed the cat, go to the shops, eat cheese, text, send e-mails, ring for taxicabs, metabolise, chase things that aren’t there and ignore things that are.

My biggest vice… I still like to stupefy myself sometimes. Otherwise, I like to wake myself up. These can both be considered vices in that children don’t do them, and older people get too frail. Officially I’m an old folk now.

The last time I was embarrassed was… the last time somebody held a mirror up to me.

My formal qualifications are… None. I am only qualified to exist, for this short time. But I am a minister of the Universal Life Church of Arizona, and have performed several marriage ceremonies, including Colin and Carson Meloy’s.

The last time I cried… was yesterday. I don’t know when today’s shower is due. Peter is on-stage now singing about monkeys.

“I chase things that aren’t there and ignore things that are”.

Vinyl, CD or MP3?… Vinyl, please. I’m trying to find a vinyl copy of my recent LP, Love From London. Peter has a new 7-inch out, El Rei de Los Monos.

My most treasured possession… is my Fylde acoustic guitar, of which I now have a young duplicate. So that’s possessions.

The best book I’ve read… is The Gormenghast Trilogy by Mervyn Peake.

Is the glass half empty or half full… half empty, and it’s got a nasty crack in it.

My biggest regret is… you can’t change the past but you can re-interpret it. I marooned myself somewhat in my twenties, it took a long time to re-join the party. Regrets are only helpful if they can stop you making the same mistakes again.

When we die… the life flows out of us and into something else. Life cannot die: so inasmuch as we are life, we don’t die either. The dead have no
age. When your story is done, history won’t remember you as a doddery old crock, but as some sleek beast with oily hair and firm shoulders. The afterlife begins when you wake up as you’re being wheeled into an old rock club, pre-smoking ban, that reeks of stale beer, tobacco smoke and disinfectant. Two roadies are pushing you along on top of a flight case, muttering to each other. As you slowly come to, you realise that they are God and the Devil. And they’re talking about you…

I’d like to be remembered… for my songs and pictures, not for myself. My creations are the best part of me. We aren’t remembered for long, but we steer the future long after we’re gone. Art enriches lives, but do artists?

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