After reaching prominence in the late 1970s with The Soft Boys, Hitchcock launched a prolific solo career. His musical and lyrical styles have been influenced by the likes of Bob Dylan, John Lennon, Syd Barrett and Roger McGuinn. Hitchcock's lyrics tend to include surrealism, comedic elements, characterisations of English eccentrics, and melancholy depictions of everyday life.
He has recorded for two major American labels (A&M Records, then Warner Bros.) over the course of the 1980s and 1990s, and was the subject of a live performance/documentary film (Storefront Hitchcock) by major motion picture director Jonathan Demme in 1998, but despite this, mainstream success has been limited. He has earned strong critical reviews over a steady stream of album releases and live performances, and a "cult following" for his songs.