I've been re-discovering my love for Robyn Hitchcock in recent days, and it occurred to me that I've probably never devoted any space here on Flaming Pablum to "Storefront Hitchcock," the Jonathan-Demme-directed film from 1998 that put Robyn in,....well..., an empty storefront right nearby on West 14th wherein to perform a full, largely acoustic set. Using the same bare-bones approach he applied to "Stop Making Sense," Demme lets Robyn Hitchcock's singular wit and lushly illustrated songwriting take center stage, strangely offset by indifferent by-passers on West 14th between Fifth and Sixth Avenues. Even if you've never heard Robyn's music, the film is bound to make you a fan, given its intimate setting and Robyn's undeniable (and endearingly bizarre) charm.
I'm not sure what I was doing when this was being shot, being both a massive fan of Robyn's and a resident of the very neighborhood this was filmed in, but I do wish I'd been there. If I'm being honest, I don't honestly recall the business that occupied the storefront in question prior to Demme's utilization of it, but I believe it may have been just another cut-rate retail outlet of the variety that dots virtually the entirety of 14th street (the longest east-west running street in Manhattan, don'tcha know, catching the island at its widest). Somewhat ironically, the space Robyn's seen performing in is a giant Guitar Center today.
Here's a quick clip from the film, which you'd do well to seek out. Though Robyn's songwriting is arguably more renowned for its penchant for absurdist surrealism (ever-garnering lazy comparisons to Syd Barrett), "The Yip Song" is a comparatively straightforward composition, concerning the illness, invasive surgery and death of Robyn Hitchcock's father. In typical fashion, Robyn jettisons the notion of making this poignant eulogy a sombre affair, turning it instead into a jubilant, giddy celebration of his dear parent's life. Having just lost a parent myself in similar circumstances, it was this single song that drew me back to Robyn Hitchcock's music anew.
Play it loud and tell your loved ones how much they mean to you while you still can.
Oh, and watch 14th street reveal itself at 01:31. Incidentally, this wasn't the first time Robyn took his music to the streets of NYC.