Over at the Robyn Hitchcock mailing list – a redoubt of mostly middle-aged guys with beards and glasses – we were discussing which Hitchcock songs we’d like to hear other artists cover. I mentioned that I’d always thought “Listening to the Higsons” had a sort of Gary Numan feel to it…and then I realized, wait – I live in the twenty-first century! There’s no need to have Numan actually cover Hitchcock, or vice versa – we could simply defy the Republican zealots and marry them digitally. (I’ve discovered the mashup – partay like it’s 2002.)
Und thus: “Are ‘Higsons’ Electric?” by Segway Army. You can ignore the rest of this post if you’d rather have tedious musical discussions disappear, or at least wait until after you’ve heard the song.
(Some complications: despite a similarity of chord structure, the songs were in two different keys a fourth apart. I experimented a bit with Strawberry Fieldsing them together, but the result made Hitchcock sound like a munchkin and Numan’s track sound like it was being performed underwater. So instead, I realized: hey, the melody mostly works in its original key against Numan’s key – just on different scale degrees. The “Higsons” I used was the until-recently-rare studio version (on the new Hitchcock box set), and that bizarre clanking (literally) underwater percussion became a bit of a noise problem (it fades out during the first verse in the original, too). My philosophy? Make the vocal track noisier, so it sounds as if it’s coming through a trucker’s dispatch microphone and one of those grease-stained plastic speakers from the ’60s – noise to hide noise, hooray! Same thing with that guitar part, which was chopped and channeled from its original key and wrung through the tremoloizer partly to provide a sort of noise bed to disguise the leftover guitar bits dangling around the tweezed corpse of Robyn’s vocals. I like it – but then, I like spicy music.)
Segway Army “Are ‘Higsons’ Electric?” (Numan/Hitchcock head-on collision)