We've been checking in with musicians to tell us about what they've been doing during COVID-19 lockdown, and this one comes from the great Robyn Hitchcock. "I’m painting a lot now, now I’m finally off the road - this keeps me on the sane side of things, and is something I’ve been meaning to do for years," Robyn tells us. "I used to draw and paint whilst listening to music, and then the music took over. Now the pictures are coming back..." He's also told us about the books, albums and films he's been digging. Records include Sharon Van Etten, Lucinda Williams, Brendan Benson and more. Check out his list of "mind fuel," complete with his thoughts on each, below.
Meanwhile, Robyn and his partner Emma Swift have been been performing twice-weekly on StageIt via their Nashville home, and some of the shows have been themed. Last week he performed songs from Syd Barrett's second solo album, and this week -- tonight (5/13) at 9 PM Eastern and Friday (3/15) at 3 PM Eastern -- they're doing an all-request David Bowie sets.
Check out Roby's quarantine list...
ROBYN HITCHCOCK - WHAT I'M READING/WATCHING/LISTENING TO IN QUARANTINE
The Unlit Lamp - Radclyffe Hall
A lesbian romance played out in a dreary English late-Victorian seaside town. I wonder if this triggered Morrissey writing ‘Every Day Is Like Sunday’?
Beatlebone - Kevin Barry
Barry imagines John Lennon going to Ireland in around 1978 to investigate an island that he bought there 10 years previously. A fascinating meditation on what Lennon’s state of mind might have been around then.
Virginia Woolf In New York - Maggie Gee
In which a British author is on a plane struck by lightning on the way to give a lecture on Virginia Woolf in New York. This causes Virginia herself to materialize, still damp from being fished out of the River Ouse, but alive and beautifully at odds with the world 70 years after she left it.
Talking It Over - Julian Barnes
Three voices narrate their version of a collapsing marriage; the better they know each other, the less they like each other. And yet they become even more entangled. Set in 1980s middle-class London, it’s a time-capsule, it’s funny, and it’s sad.
Portrait Of Lady On Fire
Every frame in this is lit like a painting; seldom have I seen a film that so loves the eyes. A slow love story, simmering on a French island in the mid-19th century. It’s as romantic as it is sensual.
Dear Life - Brendan Benson
Brendan the composer meets Brendan the musician, Brendan the producer, and Brendan the singer: and they all come out on top. By turns it’s edgy, cool, beguiling and scary - but always vital.
Hejira - Joni Mitchell
More than 40 years on, I’ve taken the time to marinate myself in this labyrinth that Joni constructed for us in the mid-1970s. Jazz bass tendencies apart, it’s a dream from outside its time. You can see the songs as well as hear them, the airborne elegy that is ‘Amelia’ most of all.
Car Wheels On A Gravel Road - Lucinda Williams
Another album that’s been around a while, gradually nudging its way into my scattered focus, courtesy of my partner, Emma. To celebrate is to mourn is the lesson I get from here: the songs are immaculate, the playing bursts out of its wrapping, and Lucinda’s voice just makes me cry. Fuckin’ genius!
Remind Me Tomorrow - Sharon Van Etten
Tomorrow never stops, but beneath the beguiling science fiction production - like the future actually *did* happen - these songs, to me, have a lot of the wide-screen intensity of Bruce Springsteen. They hypnotize you without making you numb. And I bet most of them would sound great with just an acoustic guitar or piano - thumbs up, Sharon!
Mythical Britain at its mythiest, Hugh Grant at his funniest: all poised to win the American heart, with snow and sunshine and just the right measure of eccentric underachievers - for which we are justly famed. In this case the American heart belongs to Julia Roberts, who gives as good as she gets from us rickety Limeys. England was never like this - now it’s even less so. Perfect nostalgia viewing for us locked-down expatriates.
Meanwhile, listen to Robyn's most recent album, 2017's self-titled, below: