The Psychedelic Menagerie of Robyn Hitchcock
Robyn Hitchcock is one of popular music’s most enduring artists. With a career heading into its fourth decade, his fertile imagination and fluid musical incarnations have produced an impressive body of work, comprising dozens of albums and EPs and over 500 released songs. His influence is also notable, with artists like REM, Neko Case, Wilco, The Decembrists, Guided By VoicesmGillian Welch & David Rawlings, and others citing Hitchcock as having materially affected their own creative work.
It is surprising, then, that as of this writing there have been no sustained scholarly efforts to examine Hitchcock’s rich lyrical output. Most discussion of his work is from the popular press, and here we find a common trope regarding Hitchcock lyrics–that he is obsessed with animals (notably, insects, spiders, fish, reptiles, and amphibians). This perception is so prevalent that the one major documentary on Hitchcock is entitled Sex, Food, Death…and Insects (2008). Moreover, this predilection for faunal metaphors is often depicted as merely surrealistic for its own sake, with no underlying aesthetic perspective or approach.
It is the purpose of this paper to remedy this perception of Hitchcock’s writing, as well as begin a serious examination of his canon. Through close textual analysis of the animal imagery within his lyrics and recently conducted primary interviews, the author seeks to illuminate the rich meanings of Hitchcock’s lyricism that lie just underneath his vivid depictions of animals, and the cosmological and emotional foundations that inform them.
Eddie Ashworth is an educator, producer, musician, and writer. Born in Inglewood, CA on 8 August 1955, he received his undergraduate degree from UCLA in English Literature in 1978 and was awarded a master’s degree in Music History & Advanced Sound Design from Ohio University in 2007. Since 1987 he has been continuously active in the music industry, recording artists such as Sublime, Pennywise, The Long Beach Dub All Stars, dada, Slightly Stoopid, Unwritten Law, Tommy Shaw, Great White, and Izzy Stradlin, amongst many others. He has produced and engineered recording sessions in England, Ireland, Denmark, Japan, South America, Australia, and throughout the United States. Joining the Scripps College of Communication faculty at Ohio University in 2003 (where he currently holds the rank of Associate Professor) Ashworth teaches courses in music production, recording industry, lyric storytelling, and audio preservation. He served on the Editorial Board of the Journal on the Art of Record Production from 2011-2015 and is a member of the International Association for the Study of Popular Music (IASPM), the Audio Engineering Society (AES), the Association for the Study of the Art of Record Production (IASPM), and the Producer/Engineer wing of the National Association of Recording Arts and Sciences (NARAS). In 2018 he formed Hardy Mums, a psychedelic folk-rock band that recently released their first single. As a songwriter he is affiliated with BMI and continues production work at his Oxide Shed recording studio outside Athens, OH.