Happy Holidays! Since it’s the first year of my blog, and since it’s the last year for my Annual Holiday Show on my little 20-year-old 80s radio program, STUCK IN THE 80s (on WMPG community radio in Portland, Maine), I wanted to present to you THE 31 DAYS OF 80s XMAS SONGS, or, 31 of my favorite 80s holiday musical treats.
The song for Day 3 of the 31 DAYS OF 80s XMAS SONGS is “Chinese Water Python” by Robyn Hitchcock, although technically, it’s not a Christmas song at all (or even an 80s song; it was released in late March 1990 on the album, EYE).
My dear friend Spindle introduced me to Robyn Hitchcock in the late 80s (THANK YOU!), and sometime in 1990, he put this mixtape together of Robyn Hitchcock songs – solo, with The Soft Boys and with The Egyptians. The mixtape was called PLEASURES OF THE ACHING VOID, and it looked so much like a bootleg, when we met Robyn Hitchcock at a show in October 1990 at Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine, Robyn – and himself – even asked if it was a bootleg. Quite the compliment if you ask me!
That was the first of three times I’ve met Robyn Hitchcock, and all three times, he couldn’t have been any nicer. He is an amazingly gifted singer, songwriter, musician and storyteller. I’ve seen him perform (at least) solo twice, once with The Soft Boys for a reunion tour in the early 00s, and once with the Alt-“supergroup,” The Venus 3 (with Scott McCaughey of Young Fresh Fellows, Bill Rieflin of Ministry, and R.E.M.’s Peter Buck) in the late 00s.
Also in 1990 (maybe?; the memory is a bit fuzzy on the actual date), Spindle made a holiday-flavored mixtape featuring Alternative hits of the day, with some Xmas tunes new sprinkled throughout the mix for good holiday music cheer. It was on this mix that he included “Chinese Water Python” from EYE (his fourth solo album away from The Egyptians; also, the tour of which I first saw Robyn Hitchcock perform).
I don’t know much about the history of the lovely, acoustic 2-minute instrumental. I read from one person’s review online that the gentle “Chinese Water Python” ‘could have originated from the court of Henry VIII.’ I could see that. Spindle told me this afternoon that he used to put it on his Winter mixes because “it always sounded like a not quite Christmas song,” which is kinda funny, because in a way, to me, it did (and still does). Xmas-flavored or not, it’s still one of the most beautiful pieces of music I’ve ever heard.
Thank you, Robyn Hitchcock, for continuing to make incredible music and on your terms and for the sheer love of making music. And, thank you, Spindle, for introducing me to such a treasure all those years ago. Of all the musicians and bands you introduced to me over the years, it’s Robyn Hitchcock who I’ve loved the most. Tonight’s last Thanksgiving Beggars Banquet (11.27.2016) on the show is programmed by Spindle and features the music of Robyn Hitchcock, and I’m dedicating the show to you both…