Raymond And the Wires - Robyn Hitchcock

from the album Robyn Hitchcock (2017)

When you think of psychedelic music, what images come to mind?  If you are like me, your head fills with imagery of 1960's poster art, filled with phosphorescent and iridescent colors, surreal objects, and other assorted tripped-out stylings.  And the music you hear likely borrows from the tools of the time: fuzzed-out effects, space echo, early synthesizers.

I wonder if we do ourselves a disservice thinking of psychedelic music this way?  Are we cheapening the art form, making it a caricature of itself?

When I think of The Beatles, and their pursuits in creating this genre, it was an intellectual pursuit that manipulated the tools of the era - multi-track recording tape - and eclectic global instruments to create new sounds that conveyed truths not attainable through traditional techniques.  It was high art.  It was abstract.  Not too dissimilar from the art of Willem Do Kooning and Jackson Pollack.

The Beatles - primarily John Lennon - then took this art form to an even higher level through the creation of psychedelic lyrics, introducing us to tangerine trees and marmalade skies.

Ultimately, I feel that psychedelic music is a form of abstract art, the purpose of which is to convey truths and evoke connections that traditional art cannot.  The purist in me feels that "psychedelic" musicians who do not share this aim are rubbish.  Posers choosing style over intellect.

In this context, Robyn Hitchcock is one of the most important recording artists performing today.  For nearly forty-five years, he has been creating surreal masterpieces.  Songs like Balloon Man, Madonna Of The Wasps, and Full Moon In My Soul each takes you on a surreal journey that strikes at real world truths.

On his new, self-titled release, I am really drawn to the song Raymond And The Wires.  For me, it is all about what he accomplishes with the lyrics.

The song focuses on double-decker busses drawing power from overhead electrical lines.  However, it is really a song about his relationship with his father.  Taking a tangential approach through an inanimate object, permits him to say things that might be difficult to directly address.  It is a powerful technique, and in a master's hands it is most effective.

I urge everyone to dive deep into Robyn Hitchcock's music.  He makes art through music.

Click Here to watch the official video of Raymond And The Wires.

Click Here to read my August 2014 blog post on Robyn Hitchcock's cover of The Ghost In You.

Click Here to read my March 2013 blog post on Robyn Hitchcock's Strawberries Dress.

Comments