Say It's Your Birthday: Robyn Hitchcock

When Robyn Hitchcock, born in London on this day in 1953,

formed a group called the Soft Boys in 1977, he was so out of touch by what was

happening around him that it seemed almost willful. Viewed from a distance this

willful weirdness now seems like the perfect punk act. English punk has

succeeded in clearing out a lot of rock's boring old fart dead wood, but then

immediately began replacing it with what can only be called boring new fart

dead wood--lunkheads like Sham 69 who were suspicious of anything the Sex

Pistols hadn't thought of first. What could possibly be more obnoxious--and

therefore more punk--than taunting these Neanderthals with Byrd's chords and

Syd Barrett's whimsy. Needless to say, it didn't make the Soft Boys many

friends at the time. Those who got it, however, got it permanently, forming the

backbone of the cult that would support Hitchcock thorough fifteen solo albums

beginning in 1981. Most of these have been re-issued by Rhino over the last

eighteen months, but in the nostalgic mood we're in we'll direct you instead to

the Rykodisk reissues of the Soft Boys catalogue. The 1980 album Underwater

Moonlight is an excellent place to begin. Other birthdays today are

Tone-Loc, Willie Chambers of the Chambers Brothers, and Mike Pender of the

Searchers.