Magical aural moment: Robyn Hitchcock’s “Raymond and the Wires”

Music saves my life again. I’m headphoning Hitchcock’s latest of many (his 2017 self-titled) while despairing over work, and I reach Track 8. I remember to check out the title – “Raymond and the Wires” – and notice it is short, probably a throwaway. A rasping low cello, hand claps or finger clicks, hard to tell which, and a chiming, high guitar figure grabs me, and then “my eyes have seen the trolleybus,” his voice utterly Bowie/Alex Harvey (why doesn’t he sing like that all the time?), “on her pneumatic tyres.” Magisterial chords. “Vamping down the high road, drinking from the wires.”

Swoon. Turns out the song is a trip down memory lane, about his dad half a century earlier, six pungent verses. Listen: “You miss the love you never had, the needle skips the grooves.” Adding to the allure, I can’t decipher five of his words and badly need to. Two and a quarter minutes of longing nostalgia that could have come from the mouth and guitar of a nineteen-year-old.

After 148 listening days of my Rock Music Big Year, for the first time I flip “Raymond and the Wires” onto repeat and absorb over and over.

(Robyn Hitchcock photo from his website)


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