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October 18, 1990 - Image 7

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The Michigan Daily, 1990-10-18

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The Michigan Daily-Thursday, October 18,1990- Page 7
Hitchcock meets the Great Pumpkin

by Nabeel Mustafa Zuberi
A fter exchanging obligatory
"Englishmen abroad" pleasantries,
* get to the serious stuff with song-
writing surrealist, ex-Soft Boy and
English eccentric Robyn Hitchcock:
The Balloon Man speaks from his
hotel room in Ithaca, New York
where he's in the early stages of a
U.S. tour promoting his latest mas-
terpiece Eye.
America the Beautiful I
NMZ: Do you have cable TV in
your hotel room?
RH: Yes. Last night we saw a
Marlon Brando film, The Freshman.
It was fairly slight but had the por-
tentous Brando in it. Like seeing a
Brat Pack movie and suddenly
Humphrey Bogart appears. Or like
the Tower of London stalking across
Arizona.
Dear Old Blighty
* RH: I was born by the North
Circular [Road]. I lived in Sussex
and Surrey. Very unspectacular.
NMZ: Did this background have an
influence on your becoming a
songwriter?
RH: No. I could have been born in
suburban L.A. It was wealthy and
middle class. The main cultural in-
put was The Beatles. Actually, three
of The Beatles bought houses in my
area [Weybridge], which is the Sur-
rey equivalent of Bel Air. It was
when The Beatles went through the
bourgeoisie loop.... Growing up in
England was much the same as the
U.S. except we didn't have brown
paper bags and as many things.
Give us our daily bread
NMZ: Last time you played at the
Continued from page 5
by bringing in freindship, love and
women's struggles to beat the odds.
The constant intervention of the mil-
itary, coupled with self-reflective
character names ("Whitman" is a
bigoted white man, for example),
- serves to create a two-dimensional
script.
New Times playwright Judlyne
Lilly worked as a radio anchor in
Washington D.C. while working on

Blind Pig someone in the audience
gave you a loaf of bread. How was
it?
RH: Quite dense. We chopped it up.
We came to do the Schoolkids'
Records anniversary show. We flew
from Dallas to Detroit, drove to Ann
Arbor, did the show, and the next
day flew to Tucson, Arizona. So we
were sitting in the sun in Tucson
eating the bread. It was potato bread
and we smeared cheese on it. It was
very nice.
War in the Gulf
NMZ: "Cynthia Mask" is kind of
political in that it mentions Cham-
berlain and Hitler and Poland. Well,
I'm sure there are songwriters out
there hoping there's a war in the
Gulf so that they can write a decent
song? Have you felt the need to
write about the situation?
RH: I just hope it doesn't happen.
There's a lot of terror in the media in
Britain. Actually, I have written a
song about it. The whole thing
reminded me of how people talked
about the long hot summers before
the war. There are great similarities.
The way nothing happened. In
September 1939, there were sup-
posed to be gas attacks and nothing
happened. The leaves were falling;
people knew others were getting
killed in Europe. Then in 1940, in
the space of a few months there was
Dunkirk, the Blitz, and the Battle of
Britain....
I do write political songs, but
they're really dour. I never record
them. I play them and think, 'God,
how depressing. No fun to listen to.'
Vitamin B
NMZ: I've heard that vitamin B
tablets help you remember your
dreams. Do you take them before

you go to bed?
RH: No. I wouldn't want to re-
member my dreams. I'd hate all
those songs which would say 'May
all your dreams come true.'
Addictions
NMZ: When do you write?
RH: First thing in the morning. I sit
down with my guitar and a cup of
tea. I have to write before dealing
with the rest of the day, the rest of
life.
NMZ: What kind of tea do you
drink?
RH: English breakfast tea. I usually
carry my own supply of tea bags and
a portable kettle when I'm here.
We're more apt to make it in
England. Here they make such a
fuss. When they give you tea, they
clutter up the stuff with spoons and
pots of water. It's like drug para-
phernalia. But I'm pretty much a
meat and potatoes man when it
comes to tea: Earl Grey and English
Breakfast. I'm addicted to it.
Robyn Ballbearing
NMZ: Apparently David Lynch ate
the same lunch every day for a year
at Big Boy. Do you feel the need for
this kind of habitual behavior?
RH: He needs to be anchored. The
more parts of you that are all over
the place, the more one part of you
needs to be anchored. I'm very
different. You put me down in one
spot, I'll be there six months later.
Though I might roll downhill like a
ballbearing. I tend to follow the line
of least resistance, though I'm trying
not to these days.
Robyn Grandmother
NMZ: What's your favorite song?
RH: The Byrds' version of "Mr
Tambourine Man." It evokes all that
history, whereas something like

Country Joe and the Fish has fallen
by the wayside.
NMZ: What do you listen to on the
road between shows?
RH: I'm not like Peter Buck. I don't
have an encyclopedia rack of tapes.
I've been listening to Julian Cope
and John Higley [an English
comedian]. Joni Mitchell too. You
know, classic rock.
NMZ: No 2 Live Crew or NWA?
RH: No. It makes me sound like a
grandmother, but I like a good tune.
Lots of God
NMZ: I've been listening to the new
Prefab Sprout album and I wanted to
ask you if you believed in God,
Robyn?
RH: There's a God. The real
question is are there lots of gods?
NMZ: Lots of God?
RH: Yeah, actually. Lots of God...
You look at two kids and you think
there must be a parent. So you look
at human beings and think the same.
NMZ: Do you write about God?
RH: I'm burbling on about God in a
lot of my songs, but its never 'An
Essay On God by R. Hitchcock in
Verse.'
America the Beautiful II
NMZ: Do you get to see a lot of the
country when you're traveling
between shows?
RH: Not really... Yesterday we went
to this pumpkin ranch - the
Intergalactic Farm. Though it wasn't
the hippie commune it sounds like.
They had great scenes from fairy
tales with pumpkins in them. Like
Goldilocks and the Three Pumpkins.
ROBYN HITCHCOCK will be free
associating at the Blind Pig tonight.
Doors open at 9:30 pm. Tickets are
$15 in advance available at
Schoolkids (plus an evil service

Robyn Hitchcock's guitar whispers its dreams into his ear.
charge) and Ticketmaster (plus a larger evil service charge).

Need the hot news fast?
Find it in the Daily.

her MFA. at the same time. Her
honors include the 1990 Lorraine
Hansberry Award from the American
College Theater Festival. Patterns,
the winning play, deals with a
woman's attempt to open an all-
Black private school in an urban
area. New Times has also garnered
awards for Lilly including a first-
place finish in a national playwriting
competition sponsored by Source
Theater in Washington D.C..
Director Mary Resing, a doctoral
student in theater and drama and

named Best Director for her staged
reading of New Times at the Wash-
ington Theatre Festival, says, "I've
read hundreds of scripts, and I
thought [New Times] was great. It is
one of the most thought provoking
plays I've read in a long time."
NEW TIMES will be performed by
the RC Players in the Residential
College Auditorium in East Quad
tonight through Saturday at 8 pm and
Sunday at 2 pm. Tickets are $4 for
students and $Sfor non-students.

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