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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


The Byrds - Mr Tambourine Man
What does this album mean to me? Part of it is a sound and part of it is to be transported back to the age of 12 when Mr Tambourine Man came out. I hadn’t heard Bob Dylan by that point so the first things that I heard were The Byrds’ versions of ‘All I Really Want To Do’ and ‘Mr Tambourine Man’.

There was something very romantic about it; it was very wistful. The vocals were very wistful. They weren’t feisty like John Lennon or Bob Dylan. Roger McGuinn had a wistful voice and David Crosby’s was stronger but ethereal. It was like crystal dipped in honey and then there was the 12-string so the whole thing was magic. I know that Gene Clark was the dominant songwriter in the band but the dominant sound seemed to be McGuinn’s voice and guitar and Crosby who was the dominant harmonist. His harmonies were so forceful and so strong that people thought that was the actual melody. That really set me up for the whole thing.

When I started playing and even up to this day, ‘Bells of Rhymney’ is a song that I’m still struggling to get the harmonies right live but I certainly did that with my art school band and The Soft Boys and I’ve done it with The Venus Three. Peter Buck and I are still wrestling with the middle bit. He says, “Well, this is what McGuinn showed me!” and I think, well, I’m not quite sure about that, but Peter’s very emphatic so we just agree to stay in our own corners over that! Whoever’s playing with us, it all depends on whether Peter shows them the chords or me. It’s all a matter of diplomacy but we’re quite old. But, you know, he’s met McGuinn and I haven’t! It’s like meeting your record collection, isn’t it? But then, I was in Peter’s record collection. But Martin Carthy’s in my record collection and I got to work with him last year.