Yesterday I went to London with a friend and we were wandering around Soho, I went to a record shop and was looking at the records through the window when all of a sudden Robyn Hitchcock comes up beside me to also have a look at the records in the shop window, I was a little surprised and caught off guard, but I did stop and say "hi" and tell him I was a fan of his music.
The reason I was a little shocked was, during this week, I've been listening constantly to Robyn Hitchcock's seminal solo album 'I Often Dream Of Trains' from 1984.
'I Often Dream of Train's' is a pretty important album to me, it was one of the LP's which I listened to a great deal during my formative years. I particularly listened to this album when I was briefly doing a college course in Guildford way back in 2003. I spent a number of moments wandering around the Guildford area (still do to this day) trying to go into the past via my imagination. It is great and was a fab time doing all of that in my mid-teens however all I can remember of that time in 2003 was how it was bitterly cold all the time and how it was constantly raining and grey.
I also remember I used to listen to a bunch of albums over and over back then, such albums include Love's 'Forever Changes', The Kaleidoscope's 'Tangerine Dream' and this album, 'I Often Dream Of Trains' by Robyn Hitchcock.
As someone who has been a huge fan of Syd Barrett, British History and the British Sense of Humour, not too mention being a slightly Melancholic, Eccentric and Strange kinda guy myself, 'I Often Dream Of Trains' was sure to make some sense to me as a slightly psychedelic 16 year old suburbanite.
As mentioned during the time I was heavily influenced by this LP, I was based in Guildford and spending a great deal of time there, alone and socially, this album seems to make even more sense as there is reference to nearby things including a 'Cathedral', which in Guildford overshadows the town and is constantly there as a kind of weird pain-in-the-arse, it's both beautiful and ugly. Also on the title track of the album there is reference to catching a train to Basingstoke or Reading, Guildford being in between these two towns.... It kinda all seemed very apt to me and my life at that moment in time.
The Album is a great continuous piece and is honest and brilliant, the album has a strange trippy melancholic feel throughout and this is extenuated by Hitchcock's tender vocal and a lovely array of acoustic guitars, electric guitar and piano, it's a minimal album but is genius because of the song writing.
Please dig my 3 favourite tracks from the album below...
Cathedral - As mentioned above, whilst I was in Guildford, the prominance of the town's Cathedral leaves you with a static feeling that it's always there and consuming your energy, I actually feel it's a bit of an albatross around the town's neck. For people who live in Guildford, it's part of the furniture so to speak, but for me it's a great energetic and mental annoyance. So I used to always listen to this song whilst walking up the Town's Cobbled Street and think to myself "I can barely understand myself, what the hell is the meaning of this world and why is it such a messy place??? and when I got to the top of 'The Cobbled Street', I would look out over the valley and there it was, the bloody Cathedral making a mockery of me and my head space... "Cathedral Of The Mind'... I think Robyn Hitchcock kinda got what I was feeling.
Trams Of Old London - I just love this song because it is a wonderful song and I love the song writing. I am also a history nerd and am interested in historical things especially things in London and the Tram system of Victorian -1920s London does interest me. Such a song is a good example of the true essence of 'Folk-Music' and I dig that about Robyn Hitchcock's song writing.
I Often Dream Of Trains - This track is simply sublime, it's a great piece of lyrical and song writing genius, I have always loved this song, it resonates highly with me and my mindset. It's totally psychedelic and I guess I have a trippy head space, I love the ironic sense of humour in this song and the weirdly melancholic feel of the song. Once again this song reminds me a great deal of Guildford and my time spent there.
Go and buy some Robyn Hitchcock albums or even go and check out his band prior to becoming a solo recording artist, 'The Soft Boys' (who pretty much invented the neo-Psychedelic Paisley Underground scene here in the UK)