The End: Richard Hawley on Endings and Death | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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The End: Richard Hawley on Endings and Death

"[I'd like to be reincarnated as] a very old guitar, owned and loved by many."

Feb 05, 2016 Photography by Steven Gullick Issue #55 - November/December 2015 - EL VY
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To end out the week, we ask Richard Hawley some questions about endings and death. The Sheffield, England-based singer/songwriter/guitarist recently released his seventh solo album, Hollow Meadows, on Warner Bros. Following 2012’s noisier psych-rock excursion, Standing at the Sky’s Edge, Hollow Meadows sees the crooner somewhat return to the sound of his earlier albums, such as his critically acclaimed, Mercury Prize-nominated breakthrough third album, 2005’s Coles Corner, referencing vintage rockabilly and featuring beautifully arranged ballads. Hollow Meadows is also a very personal album (does Hawley write any other kind?)-on album closer “What Love Means,” for example, Hawley reflects on the pain and parental pride that came with his daughter growing up and leaving home. It’s another gorgeous and stirring collection from the ever-dependable musician. Read on as Hawley discusses his favorite movie ending, his least favorite TV series finale, how he’d like to die, his ideal of heaven, and his famous last words.

How would you like to die and what age would you like to be?

Imagine you can overhear a conversation in the future between two of the regular customers in the pub that I go to and it goes a little like, “Hey, you know that 165-year-old guy who always sits in the corner drinking Guinness playing his guitar every night?” “Yeah?” “He died.”

What song would you like to be playing at your deathbed?

“I’m Shakin’” by Little Willie John. I probably will be shaking anyway but at least I’ll go out vibing as well.

What song would you like to be performed at your funeral and who would you like to sing it?

Jesus, you guys don’t fuck about, do you? How about “Fire” by Arthur Brown? Or maybe “Livin’ On” or “May the Circle Remain Unbroken” by The 13th Floor Elevators. In our more morbid moments we might be tempted to imagine all kinds of scenarios but in reality it won’t make a lot of difference to the poor bastard in the coffin so I guess in all honesty it’d be good if the folks who turned up might sing along all together. It’d make the wake a little less awkward.

What’s your favorite ending to a movie?

That’s easy: Harvey with James Stewart. He spends all his time in the local bar getting drunk in a relatively pleasant and civilized way with his “imaginary” seven-foot rabbit called Harvey who is actually an invisible Pookah that only James can see. In mythology he’s a playful spirit who messes with our sense of reality. The Irish called it a Pooka, in ancient Welsh it was Pwca, Thoth in Egyptian legend, Hanuman the divine in Hindu folk tales, and the Coyote comes into it in [Native] American folklore too, and so on and so forth. I digress. James Stewart’s family are well-to-do and are embarrassed by him so they convince him to go to a lunatic asylum-he is accused of lying, etc. The last scene is the gates of the asylum opening with no one apparently there and James Stewart says, “Thank you, Harvey, after you.”

What’s your favorite last line in a book?

Well there’s a couple I would like to mention if I may?

“I took her hand in mine, and we went out of the ruined place; and, as the morning mists had risen long ago when I first left the forge, so, the evening mists were rising now, and in all the broad expanse of tranquil light they showed to me, I saw no shadow of another parting from her.” Great Expectations by Charles Dickens.

“Oxen and wain-ropes would not bring me back again to that accursed island; and the worst dreams that I ever have are when I hear the surf booming about its coasts, or start upright in bed, with the sharp voice of Captain Flint still ringing in my ears: ‘Pieces of eight! Pieces of eight!’ Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson

“After William and the gang had looked after a neighbor’s baby, she thanked William and expressed her undying gratitude. “...but that was before she saw the baby!” Just William by Richmal Crompton

What’s your least favorite series finale episode of a TV show?

Now I am not a TV kind of person at all but on tour the band and crew got heavily into Lost some years ago and the last episode left us all scratching our heads, to say the least. In truth I was scratching mine from the beginning, but after that series I just thought, “What the fuck am I doing watching this shit for?” I have never engaged with anything much on TV again since that day. I read books insteadit’s far better for your mind. I have my own movie set in there.

What’s your favorite last song on an album?

“May the Circle Remain Unbroken” by The 13th Floor Elevators. It always stops me in my tracks and takes me to another place in my mind where I prefer to be.

If you were on death row, what would you like your last meal to be?

A couple of packs of cigarettes, three bottles of fine whiskey, and as much Guinness as they’d let me have. I’d be just about in the right frame of mind after that. “Do not go gentle into that good night,” as the great man [Dylan Thomas] said.

What’s your concept of the afterlife?

Read the above.

What would be your own personal version of heaven if it exists?

Read the above, above, with the addition of a little stage with a few instruments for making occasional music and a permanently open bar filled with civilized folks who like a drink, with no shitty piped-in music. A jukebox would be wheeled in on Friday and Saturday nights in between live music and dancing, but mostly just allowing the subtle murmur of the rise and fall of natural human conversation, between the raucous and the intimate, to be our guide to how to be and how to behave.

What would be the worst punishment the devil could devise for you in hell, if he exists?

Oh he exists…he is The X-Factor.

If reincarnation exists, who or what would you like to be reincarnated as?

A very old guitar, owned and loved by many. “Lame,” you may say, but it’s my reincarnation and that’s the way I want it.

What would you like your last words to be?

“Oh I forgot, I’ve got something really important to tell you…!”


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