Friday, May 15

Jonathan Does Casablanca

Check out Jonathan's latest activity on the stage...
A huge casting coup for this local adaptation was in the role of Sam—a black piano player in the movie—who is played here by world-renowned singer/songwriter Jonathan Richman (listed in the program as Michel DeMenilmontant but properly credited on the cast’s wall photos). Richman, who now lives in Chico, provides low-volume incidental French-accented guitar music throughout as well as one featured number sung in French, in addition to a touching rendition of the film’s iconic theme song, "As Time Goes By".

Wednesday, May 13

You’ve got mail, from Jonathan Richman! Also Summer Tour 2015

Debbie Gulyas of Blue Arrow Records recently contacted us to request questions Jonathan Richman might answer on Jojoblog!  We are honored that he agreed to this arrangement and happy to see he chose to illustrate his handwritten communication with drawings! 

For years Jonathan faithfully replied to his fan mail, taking it seriously and delighting countless fans with “old school” letters that would be mailed from wherever he happened to be on the road.  This letter to Jojoblog readers continues the tradition in the same genial spirit:  an echo of the past, present in the now.

Blue Arrow Records released the recent vinyl records "O Sun" backed with "Wait Wait Wait" and "Keith" backed with "The Door to Bohemia."  Have a look around their web site and read their story here:

Nugrape sent a numbered list of questions and Jonathan responded to number 5, which is why the letter begins with the number 5.

This is the email Debbie sent to go with the letter:
Greetings to everyone! I am pleased to send you the first answer to one of your questions that I received in the mail today from Jonathan. It's perfect timing, since he and Tommy will begin their summer West Coast tour in June! I am also attaching the poster Jonathan made for this tour.

You are free to post these on the blog as long as you let people know that Jonathan does not use the internet or own a computer and these are being sent through me to reach his fans.

Enjoy! I will send another answered question in a month.


As you can see, the other big news is summer tour for Jonathan Richman and Tommy Larkins beginning in June for West Coast USA and Vancouver.  The itinerary with details is on High Road Touring:

The tour poster artwork (see down below) by Jonathan is like a song in progress, you can envision the energy and feel the beat, dark of night and spotlit stage- it’s wonderful.


This is the content of the letter from Jonathan Richman, for those who need to run it through a translator:

5. How has touring changed?

Ya still throw the gear in the back and drive just like when I was 19. The U.S.A. isn’t the same place so that’s changed.

Highways used to look like this:

Here a great mural type drawing, intersections of a bustling highway with crowds of people, cars and lots of one-of-a-kind neon)

Whereas they now look like this:

Here a sort of sterile depiction of modular interstate scene/vanishing point that could be Anyplace, USA)

But playing the shows is sometimes more fun (
here something marked out straight through) than it ever was, anyway.

Tommy and I both love the way things have been going with the audiences these last most recent years. I wouldn’t trade. I have also changed. I don’t have the chip on my shoulder I once had. (
here a passage scribbled out in coils like a Jackson Pollock painting).

So I just like “now.” The past is past: give me “now.”
The past was cozy and had color everywhere. “Now” is bleak, but even so, give me “now.”

Tommy drives about 70%. Me the other 30%.

But I’m the one who always pumps the gas, for some reason.

Click images to see original size.

Sunday, April 19

Not Yet Three

Another fun and inspired cover video from Eytan Mirsky. Subscribe to his YouTube Channel for a ton more...

Monday, April 6

New Single: "O Sun"/"Wait Wait"

Check out Jonathan's new single!
Also, a review from

Checkout Jonathan's High Road Touring page to hear "Wait Wait"

Tuesday, March 3

Con El Merengue

Here's a nice cover sent in by José Otero. Thanks José!

Con El Merengue

Wednesday, February 25

I was Dancing in a Lesbian Bar covered by They Might Be Giants

They Might Be Giants have released a cover of Jonathan's "I was Dancing in a Lesbian Bar". Both the cover and a Lauren Flax remix have been posted to their youtube channel.  I am a big TMBG fan, but I can't say these particular covers really do it for me on the intial play. We will see, a lot of TMBG stuff grows on me over time even if I didn't care for it on the first pass. (disclosure: they are one corner of my triumvirate of all time favorites)  I have that reaction to a lot of covers if it is a song I have listened to many, many, many, times, and certainly I've enjoyed many variations and live performances of IWDIALB here on the jojoblog.

The cover

The Lauren Flax Remix

Jonathan is cited in many little blurbs as an influence and inspiration for They Might Be Giants – but I couldn’t find an actual interview quote or primary source.  It makes perfect sense given TMBG’s long and strong position as Brooklyn’s ambassadors of love and considering their timelines.  However, the ubiquity of the wording makes it seem a little copypasta, so I wanted to outline some thoughts and dig around to find some actual direct quotes.

Common Traits:
Singer songwriters – check
Two man core setup – check (no to downplay the collaborative live band that modern TMBG is)
Strong sense of Americana and New England – check
Lyrics that are playful and have a free association vibe – check
Lyrics that drive at our human motivations, fascinations, joys, loves, fears – check
Known for a purity or innocence of spirit - check
Genre defiance – check
Still playing after all these years – check
Not content to ride a vast catalogue but constantly creating new work – check
Often both sited together as an influence on other artists – check
Strong appeal to self-identified nerdy or quirky crowds – check
Largely independent – check
Crossovers in bands that cover them in tribute( – check
Have an album or album’s worth of material that is kid delightful - check

Apparently there is a new book describing the movement they belong to as “Twee” (  This idea is new to me.

I went a dozen pages deep in google links and found no directly attributed quotes of one discussing the other, but TMBG do appear to have been playing the song since at least 2013 for in studio appearances per their tweets.  TMBG do a LOT of press and have been very active in online media and the internet from very very early on, so there are a lot of hits for them, maybe someone with stronger SearchFu than me can find a nice interview discussion of the subject but it may be lore that is only covered in physical zine or print and now is just an established internet fact.

When they come to SF in May I will see if I can get a few words from both Johns on their Jojo thoughts.

So there is a lot going on there.  They share similar geographic roots.  They came of age in the same sonic generation.  They have similar cohorts in the punk/new wave explosion.

What do you think?

Awoo, Awoo.


Tuesday, February 24

(Naz Malik) Outliers: Jonathan Richman Loved His Parents

Naz writes in a thoughtful essay you should read:

I think we’re honing in on what Tolstoy broadly defines as art. Namely, a transmission of “emotional infectiousness”:

“A real work of art destroys, in the consciousness of the receiver, the separation between himself and the artist.”

This Moment Again and Again

Last month year we heard from This Moment Again and Again, an art collective in San Francisco, while I can no longer find the original email I did find the post-it note stuck to a years worth of undone to-do lists and tax papers so here it is, listen to this amazing couple, I wouldn't have held onto that slip of paper if I didn't think it was something special:

Many apologies to Ari Gelardin and Jacob Palmer.  If you know them please let them know I finally came through.  Many heartfelt apologies.