Robyn Hitchcock’s fertile mind

Psychedelic folk legend returns to Tel Aviv next week.

Robyn Hitchcock (photo credit: Courtesy)
Robyn Hitchcock
(photo credit: Courtesy)
The term ‘cult hero’ wasn’t invented to describe Robyn Hitchcock but it certainly fits him to a T.
The 66-year-old British singer/songwriter has made dozens of articulate, tuneful albums of everything from Beatles-influenced idiosyncratic power pop to dark folk songs and jangly psychedelia, since his emergence in the 1970s as leader of The Soft Boys and later Robyn Hitchcock and the Egyptians, college radio favorites with catchy ‘hits’ like “So You Think You’re in Love.”
The cult of Hitchcock has spawned numerous manifestations over the years, including a side project called Venus 3 with REM’s Buck and their quasi-member Scott McCaughey; a 2007 documentary called Robyn Hitchcock: Sex, Food, Death... and Insects; and Storefront Hitchcock, a 1998 concert film by late director Jonathan Demme, who went on to use Hitchcock in acting roles in 2004’s The Manchurian Candidate and 2008’s Rachel Getting Married.
After subsequent appearances in Tel Aviv in 2011 and in 2012, the latter with Venus 3, Hitchcock is returning to Israel for  two shows, on February 1 and 2 at Levontin 7 in Tel Aviv. The first show sold out instantly, but tickets are still available for night II.
The sterling 2011 shows at Tel Aviv’s Ozen Bar marked the first time Hitchcock had been back to Israel since spending time as a kibbutz volunteer 50 years ago.
“It was warm and sunny, the food was great, everybody was receptive and the shows went so well. I was amazed at how many people turned up,” said Hitchcock at the time to the Post. His CDs and albums have long been a staple in the music showroom of Ozen Hashlishit, downstairs from the Ozen Bar.
“I guess the Third Ear has been kind of an outpost for me for quite a long time without my even realizing. Apparently, it’s some kind of magnet for the general psych folk scene in Tel Aviv, which, I’ve been told, is the genre I am.”
He recalled his few months on kibbutz Givat Haim fondly, but admitted that he wasn’t that aware of what was happening in the country.
“I had a wonderful time on the kibbutz,” said Hitchcock. “But we were foreign volunteers and were sort of self-contained, so I didn’t learn too much about the country. At that time, I didn’t know much about Judaism, and what it meant to the Jewish people to be back in Israel. It was the beginning of an education for me. And as a result, I’ve been more sensitive, more in tune with Israel over the years.”
Hitchcock’s performances showcase material spanning his career, and include many impromptu, often surreal between-songs witticisms and shaggy dog stories.
“In a way, they’re just word solos, a way of connecting to the audience,” Hitchcock said. “I think that any performer talks to the audience to make things more comfortable. Basically, if you can make people laugh, then you’re not a threat to them and they’re not a threat to you.”
In recent shows, Hitchcock has been accompanied by his life partner, Australian singer/songwriter Emma Swift, who has joined him for harmonies on his material and some well-placed Bob Dylan covers. But even if she’s not there next week in Tel Aviv, an evening with the fertile mind and prodigious talents of  Robyn Hitchcock is an event not to be missed.