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Monday, 30 September 2013

ROBERT WYATT: Scaling musical heights

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'Towering genius disdains a beaten path," Abraham Lincoln once said. "It seeks regions hitherto unexplored."
Robert Wyatt hasn't physically been able to go too far in his wheelchair but his music – the stuff of towering, bona fide genius – has taken him, and us, to emotional regions hitherto unexplored.
A major influence on the likes ofThom YorkeJarvis Cocker andDamon Albarn, among many others who consider themselves innovative in their field, artrock prog-behemoth Wyatt is possibly one of the most wilfully dogmatic artists in British music.
Born Robert Wyatt-Ellidge on January 28, 1945, in Bristol, "at the end of theSecond World War," he says, adding, as a consequence that his first "awareness of the zeitgeist was this sense of elation I could see in the adults around me. For the previous five years, they thought they were going to be bombed, and their neighbours had just been bombed, and they weren't sure who was going to win. The idea of being overrun like Holland or France or Austria was very, very scary for them. People say we were poor then, but that sense of relief put a spring in people's step, I think."
Anyone who listens to Wyatt's canon – his version of Elvis Costello's anti-Falklands War masterpiece Shipbuilding from 1982 is one of my favourite songs of all time – could argue the gifted curmudgeon has put a spring in people's step with his often-brilliant music.

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