on life, music etc beyond mainstream

2022 2 Mai

Jonathan Richman

von: Manafonistas Filed under: Blog | TB | 1 Comment

Although I knew Jonathon Richman and the Modern Lovers through Roadrunner, Ice Cream Man and Egyptian Reggae, which I heard around the time of the first punk explosion, for some reason I never really listened to him very closely until about three or four days ago, which is quite a long time to allow such a great treasure to escape from your life … I can’t even remember the chain of aleatoric thoughts that lead me to him again, but I find myself becoming ever more captivated by his enchanting music.

What I find so great about him is that unlike a band like Coldplay and countless others who need to express BIG emotions and big sounds, which ultimately end up feeling limited and constrained  because of the scale of their ambition, Jonathon Richman’s music is small and homespun in its sound and in its lyrical interest and yet manages to seem limitless in the possibilities it suggests of its possible meaning and its spiritual yearning.

Whether he is writing about being a mosquito or about honey bees or parachute jumpers, whether about the joys of driving along a New England freeway or dancing in a lesbian bar; however small or parochial the nature of his concerns, the expansive nature of the joy that the lyrics give rise to in the listener and the vibrancy and ebullience of the music are such that any one of his songs could charge you with sufficient energy to single-handed build a pyramid, fight a Roman legion (assuming there was one in the vicinity of the pyramid) and still have room to counter the next wave of misery that is an inherent part of the human condition, but which he manages to somehow dissipate through his songwriting.

Although there are so many of his songs that are great, I particularly love ‚Twilight in Boston‚ because it expresses the joy of the mundane – of the prosaic, with precisely the deftness of touch that avoids slipping into the mawkish (of course, this is subjective). It happens to refer to Boston, but this could be an experience that anyone could have, anywhere in the world – at any time. It’s sung with that gleeful sense that enjoyment comes from the here and now, from the smallness of things, which at the same time are connected to something greater.

(bob. t. bright, 2013)


imagine a summer campfire feel, all
along tracks of purity and wit, and a hat
for bo. now imagine these songs being
even more naked than you thought they
were in their salad days, rocking
in quite nonchalant ways. as
a last step, imagine a room with
a flower, a shadow of the disappeared,
and strum simple, strum, strum – the guitar.



This entry was posted on Montag, 2. Mai 2022 and is filed under "Blog". You can follow any responses to this entry with RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

1 Comment

  1. Michael Engelbrecht:

    Mark Smotroff in „audiophile review“, the other day:

    „Next up on your party playlist should be Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers’ final studio release, Modern Lovers 88. Celebrating its 35th anniversary, the album was remastered in an all-analog process from the original tapes by Kevin Gray at Cohearant Audio and pressed on opaque “Hot Nights Sky Blue” vinyl. The notion of an audiophile treatment for Jonathan’s music might seem counter intuitive given the simplicity of his band and arrangements but it is exactly that factor which might make you want to pick this up even if you aren’t already a fan.

    This album-closing version of “The Theme From Moulin Rouge” is quite haunting a beautiful and might even be a good demo disc for some of you audiophiles out there as it is simply a vocalese arrangement backed with rich, jazz-flavored, warm electric guitar. Many of the song titles underscore Jonathan’s alternate universe, good time sensibilities such as “When Harpo Played His Harp” (a tribute to the late harp-playing Marx brother) and “California Desert Party” (which lovingly pokes fun at social norms out of those living in Desert regions). Again, fun stuff here…„

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