Saturday, July 17, 2010

Hand Claps: Birds in Perspex

Robyn Hitchcock and the Egyptians: Birds in Perspex


Posts happen. Sometimes they happen by accident. I wasn’t going to post any more songs for our Hand Claps theme. In fact, I took out my copy of Robyn Hitchcock’s Perspex Island because I was considering this song for my Bird Songs post on Oliver di Place. There was just one problem: the song isn’t particularly about birds. But there, in the middle instrumental break, were those hand claps. I had completely forgotten they were there.

Birds in Perspex is a perfect example of Robyn Hitchcock’s uncanny pop instincts. There is the wonderfully jangly guitar sound, like the Byrds at their best. And there are the Beatle-y vocal harmonies. This one is easy on the ears, and sounds like a hit. But this is also a perfect example of why Robyn Hitchcock never made it big. Birds in Perspex is probably a love song. It feels that way to me. But the lyrics are a collection of dreamlike images and ideas that make less sense the more awake you become. In his later career, Hitchcock has become a more direct lyricist, but he has become less interested in making pop sounds. He’s always worth paying attention to, but he probably never will have that hit. And I think he’s OK with that.

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