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Baker's Dozen

Grit In One’s Third Eye: Robyn Hitchcock’s Baker’s Dozen
Julian Marszalek , February 11th, 2013 11:14

English songwriter and frontman of The Soft Boys, The Venus Three and The Egyptians, Robyn Hitchcock leads Julian Marszalek through his most played LPs


Gillian Welch – Time (The Revelator)
My wife, Michèle, bought Hell Among The Yearlings and then we got hold of this and we loved it. There are records that I’ve liked since 1982 but I suppose new music has mattered less to me in the last 20 years or so. I don’t think it’s bad; I just don’t feel moved to get it. For one thing, it’s free and there are no record shops and I’ve got nowhere to put it. I just don’t have time to listen to stuff except when I’m cooking.

But Gillian and her partner Dave [Rawlings] really got to me. There are many things about this record. It is its own world. You know, there are those records like Astral Weeks, like the third Velvet Underground album, like Dark Side Of The Moon where every record is a mood but this record, from beginning to end, has this strange combination of being resigned and dejected and it sees the world in a very fatalistic way. There’s ‘Ruination Day Part II’ and ‘I Dream A Highway’ which is like, “I’ll be Emmylou and you be Gram” and it has all these characters wandering in and out of it.

I’ve never really discussed with them what the songs are about. I love the way that ‘I Want To Sing That Rock And Roll’ is put in there as a live track and it’s drenched deep in reverb and it’s like almost a cover or the way Simon And Garfunkel have ‘Bye Bye Love’ at the end of Bridge Over Troubled Water. It makes so much more sense as a not particularly well recorded live insert and it’s elements like that that really give some records class and just to do something a little unexpected about halfway through and getting away with it. You just feel as if you’re in this land and the other thing is that there are no overdubs and this whole drama takes place between Gillian and David. She’s the rhythm section and he’s the lead. I’ve watched them and they’re like a jam band. I saw them in Golden Gate Park and there were all these kids in clouds of pot all going ape-shit and Dave took off and Gillian’s hanging her head like a Munch picture. It kind of makes sense as a stoner jam band and they’re even more sober than I am!

They have this image of being plain homesteaders from the Appalachians or something but it’s genius what they do. They let the whole drama unfold between them on record and on stage and this album encapsulates it more than their others. That’s their mood piece and I was very happy to work with them when I did on Spooked.