Round Robyn

English pop's square peg finds a new circle

On "Antwoman," the singer describes his ideal of femininity. "Oh she rises and she hops and then she eats you," he sings, and "I ain't gonna argue with a dame like that." But oddest of all is "The Cheese Alarm," a paranoid lecture on the dangers of the cheeses that lurk in your refrigerator that comes off like a more anxiety-ridden Ogden Nash. "Rough pecorino and moody Ram Hall," he snarls. "Stop me before I just swallow it all." When I ask Hitchcock what he was thinking about when he wrote a song that shamelessly glorifies "Roquefort and Gruyère and slippery Brie," he warns that the tune, true to form, is not as whimsical as you might think. "European cheese is much stronger than yours, and probably something more to obsess about," he says. "Some people are powerless before cheese. It's a serious song, serious in terms of what happens to you as you put things through yourself. In the end, you're just an appetite. You're appetite on legs. That's all that's left of you. Discipline is the moral of that song."

It's hard to believe that a man who has tirelessly created and performed so many songs over the years would have problems with discipline, but apparently cheese isn't the half of it. "I never sit down and write songs," Hitchcock confesses. "I always figure I should be doing something else. To me, writing songs is an indulgence. I do it when I sort of sneak off from whatever it is I'm supposed to be doing." While he says he doesn't know exactly what that might be, he says songwriting is one of his lowest priorities. Among other things, he is busy managing his career and finishing his first novel, The Ballad of Jacob Lurch. "There are always many obligations. Writing songs to me is never an obligation. I would never tell myself I had to write another song. I think if I felt like that, I'd never write another."

 

Robyn Hitchcock will perform solo on Monday and Tuesday at First Avenue as part of the1999 International Music Against Brain Degeneration Revue featuring the Flaming Lips and Sebadoh. Doors open at 8:00 Monday, 4:00 Tuesday; (612) 338-8388.

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