Robert Wyatt's soundtrack of his life
October 28, 2014 3:51 AM Subscribe
When I’m not watching Russia Today, obviously, I’m watching pop TV. Even my son’s embarrassed by the infantilism of my tastes, but there’s some good stuff out there now. Pharrell Williams’s Happy– that’s absolutely fucking knockout. Williams is as good as any 60s soul singer and the song is brilliantly put together. It’s a great drum track, and there are only four chords or so, but they’re just enough. It’s really subtly done, absolutely spot-on. My granddaughter tells me I should totally disapprove of that other song he did, though. With someone else... something lines? Blurred Lines! That’s the one. Take it from me that I don’t like that one at all.Robert Wyatt talks to the Grauniad about The Soundtrack of his Life. (Robert Wyatt previously)
A short bio of Robert Wyatt, for those who don't know him:
He started out as a jazz drummer in the early sixties in the Daevid Allen trio, before moving on to the Wilde Flowers, the Canterbury based pop group that would launch a thousand Canterbury Scene prog rock groups. When that broke up, Wyatt joined Daevid Allen in his new band, Soft Machine (named after the Burroughs novel, natch). He remained with the group for their first two albums, through which he expressed his interest in pataphysics:
Wyatt was introduced to ‘pataphysics in 1967, when Soft Machine—already established, alongside Pink Floyd, as darlings of the London underground scene, and about to tour the States with the Jimi Hendrix Experience—performed a live soundtrack to Ubu Enchaîné at the Edinburgh Festival. By the time of their second album, Wyatt was introducing the band as “the official orchestra of the College of ‘Pataphysics,” going on to prove these credentials by singing the letters of the alphabet in reverse.Wyatt was both drummer and vocalist in the Softs, but artistic differences between him and other members of the band led him to leave and set up his own, Matching Mole (a pune, or play on words, which if pronounced the right way, sounds like Machine Mole, which is of course French for Soft Machine) in which he set out to explore his own experimental music to great critical acclaim. Until, dead drunk, he fell out of an upstairs window during a friend's party and was paralysed from the waist down.
That didn't stop him however, though Matching Mole was disbanded. He came back with the 1973 solo album Rock Bottom and actually had an hit with a cover of the Monkees' I'm a Believer. Of which he has said:
There was a bit of mischief there, too. I didn't like the fact that hierarchies had developed between what people thought was "serious" rock music and pop music-- that was all rubbish. I was very uncomfortable with that. That was exactly the kind of situation I thought our generation had got rid of. I've always admired pop music, because I think it's the modern post-industrial folk music. Everybody can join in, you don't have to be a specialist. You can sing along with it. But there's not much room in pop music for all the things I want to do. It's a bit like food: I like all kinds of interesting food, but in the end, I can just sit down with an egg sandwich and really feel great.Since then he has been working steadily on both solo projects and collaborations with other musicians, including Björk and Hot Chip. For more on Wyatt, the BBC4 documentary on him from a few years back is essential viewing.
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