I would like to present a truly rare "lost song" from very early on in Jonathan Richman's career: "Boston Boston USA".
This was sparked by a comment left on a blog post a few months ago.
Back in the mid-70's Jonathan had done a pre-announced radio appearance on either WBCN or WBUR.
A song from this performance stood out to the commenter and he reached out to see if anyone else knew of it.
This song is an ode to Boston in the musical spirit of "Willie and the Hand Jive".
I could see this fitting in on an album like "Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers" which came out roughly two years later in 1976. Kind of like a sister to "Back in the USA" or "New England", as it has a primal, anthemic feel.
There is a mention of this song in the book "There's Something About Jonathan" starting at chapter 4 which I used for most of the information below.
In 1973, the Modern Lovers were busy recording for their tumultuous 1st album and had driven out to California. (This was after the infamous Bermuda trip). Ernie Brooks recalls them feeling very out of place there (too "sophisticated" for the west coast!), especially Jonathan who was not adjusting to the weather well.
I wonder if that is when (and the context by which) Jonathan wrote this song.
They played some shows on this trip, one of them at the Long Branch Saloon (they had played there previously, I'm not referring to this show) with a set-list that still included most of the old "punk" songs, but with a tamer sound.
As an opening song, accompanied only by bass (Ernie Brooks), "Boston, Boston, USA" was performed.
If a copy of this show exists (as the text from the book seems to indicate with it's detail), please let me know!
A few months later, on February 23 1974, back in Boston, at the "Boston Center For The Arts" the song was performed again, this time with a full band accompaniment.
A recording of this show exists but the sound quality is very poor.
To try to share a more audible copy of the song, I made an edited version using the Audacity software.
I increased the volume, and with the "EQ" tool I increased the "highs" a bunch, and slightly lowered the "lows".
Here is the recording: http://icecoldnugrape.com/bostonUsa_mod_1974Feb23BostonCtrForTheArts.mp3
I also tried scribing the lyrics down. It was quite a chore due to the sound quality of the recording!
Here's the best I could do, please comment if you have any corrections!
Well I know a girl from Mattapan
I go up the hills and down again
Well I like to walk up Blue Hill Ave
and run all around with the legs that I have
Ok, what you say, modern dance floor
Boston, USA (oh, yeah, yeah)
I know a girl from Roslindale
Said Boston winters get cold as hell
I love to ride on the MBTA
Gonna run around Boston, USA
All right, here we go now
Boston, USA (oh, one more time)
Well, now, Cleveland Circle, Mattapan
Norwood, Newton, Framingham,
Allston, Saugus, Jamaica Plain
I love Boston USA
(need help with this verse)
I know a girl from Cambridge, Mass
Make good sense from a place like that(?)
I want to fly in the open street (?)
Boston, USA (one more time)
Saturday, July 16
A review that is as idiosyncratic as the reviewee. I recommend using bloggers zoom function (or CTRL+ or similar) to raise font, sorry.
Posted by Emmett McAuliffe at 7/16/2016
Tuesday, June 7
Jonathan Richman - Walk Around The Town from 50 Feet of Song on Vimeo.
Isn't that a lovely video above by 50 Feet of Song?
Thank you to those who cared enough to send supportive emails.
We are all confused together.
To clear up a bit of confusion as to authors of blog posts, I am requesting that all future posts include the author's name. As I have time and ability (which is severely limited) I will be going through past archives and adding people's names to the blog post titles, by which I mean however they are shown on Blogger. The reason being that many people now read Jojoblog on a feed reader, which generally shows the author simply as Jojoblog. So if you see old Jojoposts showing up on your reader that's why. If someone writes to me and asks me about it, I will be sending the link to this post with no further explanation.
There are 62 plus or minus authors for Jojoblog. Any of these people can post to the blog. I plan to go through the list to delete some who have never posted or commented, or have never been heard from since they joined, and whom I no longer recognize.
Therefore if you might be one of the mentioned mysterious authors and want to remain on the blog team, but still don't want to post anything or comment, let me know so I don't delete you. This is just for housekeeping, not a purge.
Another good reason to stay in the blog authors is if you wish to comment without being moderated. Any Jojoblog reader who wants to join for this reason is welcome. Let us know. I am going to change the comments to unmoderated for a while and see how that goes. Sometimes I go for days without the ability to check the computer. If clickbait spam comments with evil links show up again before I catch the infestations, please use common sense and don't just click randomly. If the spam becomes a problem again the moderation will resume.
Emmett McAuliffe has kindly agreed to help out with administration duties so perhaps there will be more to say about these things. Together now there are me (RB or Rosebud), Nugrape, and Emmett. Contacts will be updated on the sidebar soon.
When Jojoblog first arose from mailing lists (3 of them) many did not know what a blog was and the concept had to be explained. However the structure was intended to continue the mailing list type interaction which was to remain a collective effort.
Times have changed and now many former bloggers are past and over blogs and into all the other million scattered social media advertising surveillance short attention span splintered shiny trending things. If you look on the sidebar at the widget called 'Other Jonathan Richman Destinations' you will see there's a lot of other places you can visit. I urge you to take advantage of those resources and if you find a good one that isn't listed please do share, if you are so inclined.
Also over there on the sidebar is an address for Blue Arrow Records, who is taking fan mail for Jonathan Richman. I include it here for the feed-readers and email subscribers and mobile users who no longer visit the blog the old-fashioned way:
Blue Arrow Records
Attention: Jonathan Richman
16001 Waterloo Road
Cleveland, OH 44110
Blue Arrow Records has a nice Twitter, and they share things there all the time. If you are on Twitter, follow them and retweet them. Here's a recent item of interest regarding a Jonathan Richman Agony Aunt column in Rough Trade Shops magazine:
You can buy issue 2 here, not sure if issue 1 is still available but the pic in Blue Arrow's tweet above has the column:New issue of @RoughTrade magazine means a new #jonathanrichman column! Pick up the May issue now! pic.twitter.com/Ciwj6c1xmh— Blue Arrow Records (@BlueArrowMusic) May 17, 2016
The art for the column is done by this guy:
Jojoblog has a Twitter too, it was run in the past by me (Sisyphus, oops I mean Rosebud) but Nugrape now tends to it. Follow, retweet, repeat!
High Road touring is showing some California dates:
and it looks like Jonathan Richman is playing at Woodsist (Big Sur) in July:
Village Voice got an interesting letter from Jonathan Richman last November:
Here's an old Tumblr called 'a plea for tenderness' that is fun to scroll through:
Read this appreciation by Duglas Stewart of the BMX Bandits:
How did I find these things? I used Google. You can do this too! Be empowered! With the browser of your choice of course.
Sunday, February 7
Thursday, January 21
Good news via Debbie Gulyas of Blue Arrow Records in Cleveland, Ohio:
Jonathan Richman's new release is ISHKODE! ISHKODE!
CDs will be available to purchase on the Blue Arrow Records website February 8, 2016. LPs may be pre-ordered, but won't be available until April-May.