Robyn Hitchcock - Joe Boyd
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Robyn Hitchcock & Joe Boyd:
Live & Direct from 1967
"Chinese White Bicycles"
1967 was my psychedelic bar mitzvah. As I turned 14 that March, Pink Floyd released 'Arnold Layne', Jimi Hendrix put out 'Hey Joe', The Beatles were recording Sgt Pepper's, and The Incredible String Band were working on, for me, the album of the year: 'The 5000 Spirits Or The Layers Of TheOnion'. As a teenager in a mediaeval cloistered academy in the shadows of Winchester Cathedral, I experienced this music as someone behind bars might see the moon: it gave me something to aim for, something to live for. Bob Dylan had planted the seeds in my ear the previous year, as he had casually done with so many other youngsters; now other musicians that he had 'turned on' were doing the same to me.
When I looked at the record labels on these vinyl ambassadors, the phrase 'Produced by Joe Boyd' kept recurring. His name also appeared on the Fairport Convention and Nick Drake albums at the decade's end. As the 1960s dissolved into the hangover of the 70's, the seeds that Dylan had carelessly sown began to swell and split in my head, and I began to create my own dystopian psychedelia in the Soft Boys. When the subject of a producer for our first record came up, I asked for Joe Boyd - but nobody in Cambridge in 1977 had his number. We finally met in 1985, introduced by none other than Peter Buck in Wood Green, London. Peter, awestruck by Joe's 1960's roster, had asked him to produce REM. So, I asked Joe, what was it like working with the Incredible String Band?
Starting that night, over toxic lager in the flourescent-lit kitchen of Livingstone studios, and thereafter at chance meetings over the next 20 years, Joe told me about the momentum years of 1965 to 1970: him stage-managing Dylan at Newport, meeting and nurturing The ISB, Fairport, Pink Floyd, and Nick Drake; running the UFO Club, matrix of the London 'underground' scene; working on the Jimi Hendrix movie and more. Eventually, he wrote it all down and published it in his memoir - White Bicycles. As that era has now crystallized into the Arcadia of pop/rock, Joe and I have been drawn together by our perspective on how it shaped our lives: his as a young man, mine in teenage limbo. Joe had a hand in creating a world that revolutionised mine. If he is Dr Frankenstein, then I'm his monster. Or one of them...
In this show, Joe tells excerpts of his story, largely reading from 'White Bicycles': I sing the songs he worked on or was involved with, the songs I grew up with - I also ask him questions and interrupt, like a kid that wants to be part of the story. The story is a big part of me.
- Robyn Hitchcock
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