Robyn Hitchcock with Emma Swift Live From Sweet Home Quarantine (all requests) Part 22
“Whatever I am, I’m something from the distant past.” Said Robyn, wearing his top hat and Lennon specs, looking like a crazy undertaker, then launching into ‘Serpent At The Gates Of Wisdom’ from 1993’s Respect, a very Lennon-esque song. Emma commented off camera after that “oh that hat makes you extra creepy” and Reg switched to his Telecaster (electric) and did ‘The Abandoned Brain’ from Invisible Hitchcock, a surprisingly sad and sweet song I’ve never heard him play live.
“Please welcome Miss Emma Swift, from the 21st century,” said Reg, and the duo did ‘The Yip Song,’ also from Respect and as Robyn explained, was about “the death of my father.” The duo sounded great on this one. Emma remarked that that one was both “poignant and inane.” Next up was a magnificent version of ‘Glass Hotel’ from EYE, played beautifully with a bit of raga guitar, this is one of Robyn’s finest songs and Emma sang marvelously on it.
Finally the top hat came off, and they did a song from Emma’s Blonde On The Tracks, her (at that time) upcoming Bob Dylan covers LP (tinyurl.com/zubblonde). She sang ‘Queen Jane Approximately’ from Highway 61 Revisited. She made this into a lovely tale, with her sweet vocal, unlike Dylan’s snarl. Robyn spoke very highly of the new Emma record, and she then left to find a cat. Robyn said he was playing a new song that he dedicated to a fan who had just lost her beloved cat. The song was vaguely positive and folkie, I think it was called ‘It’s Been Scheduled,’ and Reg dropped some of the lyrics.
Em returned with Ringo the cat, who was quite docile tonight, and the duo did ‘Mad Shelley's Letterbox’ from the recent Robyn Hitchcock, kind of a surreal Beatles mashup but obviously a Robyn Hitchcock song. This one was a real highlight. Perry the lobster appeared, and Em commented on how Reg was more and more insane each week. Reg played electric, solo on ‘Sayonara Judge’ from the same LP. It was a sad, slow meditation augmented by Emma’s singing off camera. After he asked for “Swifto” to come back, they talked about making Tiny Ghost Records guitar picks and Tubby socks. Next was ‘Airscape’ from Element Of Light, another one of Reg’s strongest tunes. Beautifully played and with wonderful lyrics:
Your perfect lover's never there
And if she was, she wouldn't be
And neither, though, would you
Save your illusions
For someone else
Save your illusions
They mentioned the Wednesday Groovers Facebook group, and that the following week Emma will be promoting Blonde On The Tracks, so no Wednesday show then. They used the last minute or so to do Adventure Rocket Ship, for just a minute or so. Another great show from Reg and Em!
Robyn Hitchcock with Emma Swift Live From Sweet Home Quarantine (the Social Distancin’ 1990s) Part 23
After a week off, I was really missing Robyn and Emma. I did get the 1 of 50 Blonde On The Tracks cassettes this week (already got my orange vinyl LP) so that was super cool. Nashville had a bad storm and the power was out for a bit, delaying the show for one hour.
Reg appeared wearing “a surviving shirt” from the 90’s (black with white polka dots, natch), and started with a Grant Lee Buffalo tune, ‘Fuzzy’ where he got to sing the chorus very high. Emma then appeared and announced they would do a Tanya Donnelly song (a Belly song) ‘Feed The Tree.’ Em sang backup and it was lovely. Emma spoke about her Lee purple corduroy flares and silver Doc Martens she wore nonstop in the 90’s. Em introduced the next tune as “grim” while Reg said it was one of his favorites. Emma sang Radiohead’s ‘Fake Plastic Trees’ solo and wonderfully, an amazing song that’s not easy to sing. Em said that The Bends was still her favorite Radiohead LP.
Em went out of shot and Reg played a fairly straightforward version of ‘Man In The Moon’ from R.E.M. Emma sang off camera in the choruses. Very well done, Robyn seemed really into these covers tonight. Emma returned and they discussed other R.E.M. covers and the first polka dot shirt Reg saw, worn by Ringo! (Starr, not their cat). Reg called Em “the Bob Dylan of wives.” Next up was Mazzy Star’s ‘Fade Into You,’ Emma singing solo in her lower register. It’s a very pretty but very repetitive song.
Reg held up a picture of Stonehenge, actually a coaster. They discussed doing a “dismal Neil” tune, and played ‘Unknown Legend’ from Neil Young’s 1992 LP Harvest Moon. Their voices worked really well together on this one. After, they discuss doing ‘Candy’ by Iggy and Kate Pierson. They then did a knockout version of Prince’s ‘Nothing Compares To U,’ Emma just killing it on the vocal.
Perry the stuffed lobster appeared, and they discussed Sinead O’Connor, and they said they were going to Manchester. Em said she was Noel and Reg Liam. They did a great, playful version of ‘Look Back In Anger’ which was also quite touching. They ended up with a few verses of a mostly a cappella version of ‘If You Want To Be My Lover’ by the Spice Girls This was hilarious and fun, and a great way to end the show. Good to have them back!
Robyn Hitchcock with Emma Swift Live From Sweet Home Quarantine (Blonde and Silver On The Tracks Edition) Part 24
The show opened with Robyn offering hellos to his “blurred and beautiful friends,” saying in honor of Emma Swift’s new LP, Blonde On The Tracks, (tinyurl.com/zubblonde) they would be going to “Lake Dylan” and he launched into a pleasant version of ‘Desolation Row’ from Highway 61 Revisited. This is a song with a lot of lyrics and Robyn did well with it, playing in a drop-D guitar tuning, with the addition of round-the-neck harmonica. Emma then appeared reading some of the StageIt comments, and thanking the folks for the success of Blonde On The Tracks. Emma sang ‘Sooner Or Later (One Of Us Must Know),’ from her new record and originally on Dylan's Blonde On Blonde. Emma’s version had a SoCal singer-songwriter feel, with perhaps a touch of Linda Rondstadt in there (tinyurl.com/zublinda). Robyn complimented Emma as a singer, and went into ‘Country Pie’ from Nashville Skyline, using his ‘Elvis’ voice in bits. A bit heavy on the corn -pone, it wasn’t the strongest Dylan cover. Next up, Reg played ‘Ring Them Bells’ from Oh Mercy, a nice folkie, stripped down version.
Emma returned and sang ‘Going Going Gone’ from Planet Waves, Emma delivering a meditative and torchy vocal. Only she could bring a torch vibe to a Dylan tune. Germaine the female (stuffed) koala appeared, they discussed the differences of E. Swift and T. Swift to get Blonde On The Tracks into the Australian charts. Emma sang ‘Things Have Changed,’ Dylan’s contribution to The Wonder Boys soundtrack. Reg and Em appear to know all the Dylan songs.
Emma was off again and Robyn did a slow, stately version of ‘Senor (Tales Of Yankee Power’) from Street Legal. Beautifully picked and sung by Robyn, it was very touching. When Emma returned, they did ‘Tangled Up In Blue’ from Blood On The Tracks. Very well done but Emma goofed the lyrics (reading on the phone) but they got it back together. They played out the last minute with ‘Tiny Montgomery’ from The Basement Tapes. This was a bit of a chaotic show, with a first song over eleven minutes long, but with Reg and Em we would not have it any other way.