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2013 27 Mai

Jonathon Richman

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Although I knew Jonathon Richman and the Modern Lovers though 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. So as I listen to it, I can celebrate the wonderful reaction of Jurgen Klopp to Subotic’s goal line clearance, walking past Tonbridge castle in the late afternoon sunshine and at any of these times, feel connected to an Egyptian slave who is in love with Cleopatra (my interpretation of Abdul and Cleopatra)!

(Dedicated to the inspiring BVB team)

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