Thursday, December 29

Los Abandoned To Vapor

Vapor Records has signed "Los Abandoned". The band is currently in preproduction for their Vapor debut.

"Los Abandoned are leading the new wave of pomo, post-punk, Latino LA. Summoning the mighty ghosts of Los Prisioneros, Romeo Void, and Selena all in the same breath, they do an electric, art-school mash-up of SoCal and Chile, English and Spanish.

Tiny Tim beware: they have a ukulele and aren't afraid to use it."

-Josh Kun, columnist, SF Bay Guardian/Boston Phoenix

Thursday, December 22

Season's Greetings

Saturday, December 10

"I like to play stuff..."

Jonathan Richman on Morning Becomes Eclectic

2 April 1997 realaudio 27:13

via happyweasel

Jonathan talks briefly about sports, being buff, his Epiphone archtop guitar, Late Night with Conan O'Brien, audience response in SoCal and Japan and Europe, playing with Tommy Larkins, Neil Young, Andy Paley, the film Starmaps, film scores, Mexican cinema, the film Liar Liar, authors T.E. and D.H. Lawrence...

The piece starts off with "French Style" from Surrender to Jonathan, and Jonathan performs great versions of "Rooming House on Venice Beach", "My Little Girl's Got a Full Time Daddy Now," and "Surrender" live in studio.

Thursday, December 8

vintage 1996

From: Jonathan M
Date: Mon, 17 Jun 1996
Subject: Jojo & Neil

A few folks have been pondering the unlikely association between Jonathan Richman and Neil Young. Consider the following.

Both came to fame as members of groups, Buffalo Springfield , The Modern Lovers, before embarking on solo careers.

Early collaborators have gone on to the big-time: Stephen Stills, Jim Messina, Nils Lofgren, Rick James (pre-fame "The Mynah Birds") with Neil; Jerry Harrison, David Robinson with Jonathan.

Both have crossed musical genres, sometimes infuriating their own fans. Neil has released rock, country, blues, rockabilly, grunge & technopop albums. Jonathan has been a punk influence, recorded a country record and been influenced by musical forms as varied as surf, children's music, and foreign language ballads.

Both play either acoustic ('unplugged' if you prefer) or electric shows.

"Roadrunner" was performed by the Sex Pistols. Johnny Rotten has been mentioned in a Neil Young song.

Both have performed unaccompanied and with a band.

Both have said they do not do drugs.

Unlike many bandleaders, they both play lead guitar.

Both have had label problems. Jonathan had his well-known run-in with Warner Brothers early on, and has had trouble finding a label. Neil has been sued by his record company.

In the spirit of a recent request for a little controversy, I will mention that Jonathan & Neil both took stands on Ronald Reagan's Central American policy. Jojo against & Neil (this may surprise you) in favor.

Forgetting the above factoids, both have produced great original music without bending to the music industry's trends of the moment.

-- Jonathan M

Note: This is a vintage post from the old list.

Tuesday, December 6

new jojo list

Hi everyone,
Most of you already heard, probably,
but here's for those who missed the buzz:

The jojo list on Topica was suffering some technical difficulties,
and that's why, a couple of weeks ago, Super Simon created a brand new happy jojo list, replacing the Topica one.
If you want to join, subscribing is easy:
just click here to subscribe, and pop in your mail address.

Perhaps we'll see you on the jojo list :-)

40 Watt Athens, Georgia

Sunday, December 4

Christmas with John and Jonathan

John Waters by Greg Gorman
John Waters portrait by Greg Gorman

The Fillmore (San Francisco) Wednesday, 14 December

Rio Theatre (Santa Cruz) Thursday, 15 December

this blurb from Rio Theatre:

a John Waters Christmas LIVE!
featuring special guest Jonathan Richman

Legendary filmmaker John Waters (“Pink Flamingos””Hairspray””Serial Mom”) performs a very developed one-man show at festivals, universities, and clubs across the world and has since the 1970’s. In it, he details his groundbreaking career in a rapid-fire stand-up comedy format (akin to high-brow comics and monologists such as Spalding Gray, Janeane Garofalo, and Margaret Cho) plus conducts a Q & A afterwards. He is also available for special VIP meet-and-greet sessions beforehand.

The show has played to sold-out audiences in Boston, San Francisco, Tucson, Pittsburgh, and beyond.

As a director, actor (he is featured in the new Halloween “Chuckie” horror film), graphic artist with showings at galleries across the country, creator of the wildly successful Broadway musical “Hairspray”, Gay/Lesbian role-model, author of numerous books, and even his being immortalized as a character on “The Simpsons”-- not to mention being the man who catapulted Johnny Depp from pin-up idol to critical acclaim-- Mr. Waters is a renaissance man of almost unprecedented cultural influence.

Jonathan Richman has been writing songs, making records and performing live for most of his life, winning fans and making friends around the world with his guileless honesty and playfully catchy compositions. He's revered by countless fellow artists, and has built a remarkably loyal international audience through his tireless touring. His deceptively straightforward songs embody timeless qualities of humanity, optimism, emotional insight and a boundless sense of humor, untainted by cynicism or transient notions of hipness.

Jonathan will play solo this evening.


New Line Records: A John Waters Christmas: Eccentric Christmas Album Curated by Legendary Film Director Readied For Holidays

John Waters tells Terry Gross about his Christmas CD on NPR's Fresh Air

John Nova Lomax muses on Christmas music

A John Waters Christmas at (reviews and song samples)

ps. Happy anniversary to Dreamland News!

Thursday, November 24

Reno Reno Reno

That line about Reno
Reno Gazette-Journal

Even the country-music challenged can probably anticipate the "I shot a man in Reno just to watch him die" line in Johnny Cash's "Folsom Prison Blues." Here are some other songs that name-check Reno. The trend is that most of them are unflattering.

Bruce Springsteen: "Reno." The song about time spent with a prostitute doesn't mention our city in the lyrics.

Grateful Dead: "Friend of the Devil," has the line "lit out from Reno, I was trailed by 20 hounds."

Beck: "Loser." "Baby's in Reno with the vitamin D," the line says.

Woody Guthrie: "Philadelphia Lawyer," with the line "Way out in Reno, Nevada, where romance blooms and fades, a great Philadelphia lawyer was in love with a Hollywood maid."

R.E.M.: "All the Way to Reno," about an aspiring celebrity.

Hank Snow: "I've Been Everywhere," which name-checks dozens of cities, including Reno. Johnny Cash covered this song.

Doug Supernaw: "Reno," with the line "lady's a lot like Reno, she ain't got a heart and she don't care when you're down." Ouch.

Jonathan Richman: "Reno," with the repeated line "Reno, Reno, Reno, honey, Reno."

Fairport Convention: "Reno, Nevada"

Too Much Joy: "Thanksgiving in Reno," with the line "at the $5.99 buffet, in Reno on Thanksgiving Day, nobody seemed to care why anyone else was there."

... and then there's former attorney general Janet Reno, and that Mike Reno guy from Loverboy, but he never actually sang about the Biggest Little City.
I Eat with Gusto, Damn! You Bet

Tuesday, November 15

Folk-Punk Chesnutt Spins On Music

Vic Chesnutt claims he would need to release somewhere around four albums a year to truly satisfy his songwriting jones. He says he's always either at the piano, with the guitar or whittling down lyrics. The 41-year-old has even taken to recording songs on his computer while in transit from one tour stop to the next.

"It's something that I've been doing since I was a kid . . . at any time I'm dying to put out a new record," Chesnutt said over the phone from Minnesota, where he just wrapped up a stint with Jonathan Richman the night before. "I realize, though, that's just not the way things work."

Chesnutt is a Southern-reared folk punk with a wicked wit and profound vision.

There's a stoic - almost didactic - quality to his music, which flows through a variety of channels. He's just as at home delivering moody stripped-down numbers that sound like they were recorded on a four-track in a bedroom as he is playing with a string and horn section.

His most recent effort, March's "Ghetto Bells," features jazz icon Bill Frisell helming guitar duties and multi-instrumentalist Van Dyke Parks on everything from accordion to piano.

"With that record, I really went into the studio with the mind-set of just trying to be a player in the band," said Chesnutt, who's been in a wheelchair since a car accident paralyzed him when he was 18. "When you're with musicians as good as those guys, you just want to let them do whatever they feel is best for the song."

However, at the heart of all of his songwriting - grandiose arrangement or sparse - is a sense of melancholy and introspection. Though he says he's often been accused of being a stream-of-consciousness writer, nothing could be further from the truth.

Ever the craftsman, Chesnutt admits he pores over songs time and time again until he feels the lyrics convey exactly what he wants. He says his rural upbringing plays a large part in the imagery behind his phrasing, but inspiration can strike from anywhere.

Whether it be one line that he's trying to build around or a specific topic he wants to touch upon, his songs are weighty and below the surface. The listeners might completely miss his point upon first listen, but that's part of the fun.

"In a short song, you've only got so many words to work with, so I try to make sure that every single one of them is loaded," he said. "The goal is to make the songs dense enough to last forever. . . . There's got to be some kind of hidden second meaning that might not be apparent until it's been heard on several occasions."

Chesnutt will play solo during his upcoming Southern California appearances at the request of tourmate, mercurial songbird Rickie Lee Jones.

"I love playing solo; it's a completely different experience to playing a band," he said. "It doesn't matter to me if I've recorded the songs with a complete arrangement, they all started off with just me."


Wednesday, November 9

Les Etoiles


(click on the song's name on the site to play)

Friday, November 4

Revolution Summer & Love and the Monster

Jonathan's involved with writing the music for a new film, Revolution Summer by Miles Montalbano, which is in post production right now.

This'll be the second time that Jonathan has assisted this director; apparently a couple of years ago he wrote the score for an 11 minute black comedy... 'Love and the Monster'.

The Bostonians #7: Nancy Neon & Billy Borgioli

It is a true pleasure for me to introduce you to two true
modern artists who played and/or interacted up to today
in Boston's music scene.
Nancy Neon is an impeccable editor. reviewer, journalist
she contributes regularly to "the NOISE" , the alternative
Boston mag. I have always appreciated her flawless taste
and her witty remarks. Like me she is a die hard Lyres and
Zombies fan. And she is Billy's muse. Nancy gets mentionned
in Kenne Highland's cult song "Pundjabi daba".

Nancy and Billy (courtesy of BGN)

Billy Borgioli was in the Real Kids first line-up and his
contribution to the sound of the band was essential.

The Real Kids: John Felice, Alpo and Billy (Billy B. collection)

Billy later co-lead the Classic Ruins with Franck Rowe
and eventually both of them duetted on their vintage
Les paul guitars in the awesome Varmints.
I highly recommend the CD "Assorted Varmints
1989-1997" , it is the genuine missing link between the first
and the second Real Kids albums. There is this perfect line
in the opening song which goes "I don't wanna die like Elvis.."
Billy nowadays is also doing painting.

- What was the first Jonathan song you ever
heard? when was it?

Billy Borgioli:I first heard "Roadrunner" on the radio
in Boston when it first came out.
Nancy Neon:I ordered BESERKLEY CHARTBUSTERS because of a
write up in CREEM in 1975. It had a hard rock band called Earthquake,
a pop combo called the Rubinoos, and future pop star of "Jeopardy"
fame,Greg Kihn. Much more to my liking were the 4 Richman cuts
"It Will Stand","New Teller", "Government Center", and "Road Runner".
I must admit I had never seen or heard anything like Richman,
a short haired, clean cut rebel who sang like he had some adenoid
condition. I liked the whole dichotomy of nostalgia for the
old world and romanticism of the new world. He was clearly cut
from a one-of-a-kind mold and I was pleased to find that he also
had a kick ass lil rock'n'roll combo as MODERN LOVERS on the same
label paid accurate testimony.

- Did you ever see the original Modern Lovers on stage ?

Billy:I never saw them live.
Nancy:I would have loved to have seen them before he decided
David Robinson should bang on a pot or whatever as opposed to
playing drums. I was in high school in NC when they were playing
the Cambridge Common and that sort of thing. Are there any good
videos of some early, rockin' shows I'd like to know.

- Your favourite album and favourite songs ?

Billy:"She Cracked" off the John Cale produced MODERN LOVERS
on Berserkley.
Nancy:In my mind,there isn't a flaw in this rock 'n' roll
treasure trove-MODERN LOVERS on Berserkley. "Roadrunner" is
a brilliant rock 'n' roll love song to the Boston area. Since
he's from Natick, it's probably about the excitement of driving
into Boston or Cambridge from his home in the suburbs,Natick.
"Astral Plane" is great,too,a different deeper sort of love song
where you meet your soulmate in another dimension.
"Old World" and "New World" show Richman's love for antiquity
and modernity(?)."Pablo Picasso" has one of the funniest lines/rhymes
in music "Some people like to pick up girls and get called asshole/
But that never happened to Pablo Picasso."

(Jacques : one of my favourite lines in that album will always be :
"I go to bakeries all day long/there's a lack of sweetness in my life")
"She Cracked" is the wildest rocker of the bunch. "Hospital" has
some of the most moving lines and Richman really uses that nasally
vocal to underscore the depth of his emotion
"I don't care what you do.. I'm in love with you eyes"
"Someone I Care About" combines rock and romance. Though I dig
"Girlfriend",he's let the goofy element start to slip out.
But overall,this album is grade A all the way.

- When was your first Jonathan concert ?

Billy:I haven't seen any of his shows.
Nancy:I'd go see him if I could jump into ye olde
WAYBACK MACHINE and see them in the Cambridge Common.
when it was David Robinson, Ernie Brooks, Jerry Harrison
with Jonathan Richman. I'd also like to see Richman when
he was playing with John Felice .

- Are you familiar with his recent CDs ?
Do you like the way his music has evolved?

Billy:I'm not familar with his recent CDS.
Nancy:Yeah,I haven't followed Richman's career,but as far
as the cool,vintage stuff there's a wonderful bootleg called
SONGS OF REMEMBRANCE. The choice of songs are top notch and
the performances, from several venues and dates ,are blazing!!!
Highly recommended if you can dig it up somewhere.

- any comments about his cameo appearance
in "Something about Mary" ?

Billy: I thought it came across as goofy. I thought it was
pretty funny when he got shot out of the tree.
(Billy's memories are confused as it is at the end of the movie nearby the sea that
Jonathan is shot)
Nancy: Well, old Jo Jo has certainly aged well-it must be
all that clean living he sung about and from what I've heard
he is the real thing. Straight edge before straight edge!!
Richman still has that odd charisma that comes through even
in that cameo. If he comes across like that live, I'd be
interested in seeing a current show.

- As you are close to the Boston rock scene how do
you judge Jonathan influence on the local musicians ?

Billy:It is hard to say because the music scene here is so
diverse and so the bands' influences are also extremely diverse.
Nancy: I'm sure that Richman inspired a lot of people to put
a band together for the first time in a similar way that Lou Reed
made kids want to write and play music. There's a realness and
honesty to Richman's work that is inspiring. As far as influencing
the sound of the bands' music, that is more subtle. I can see where
the rock'n'roll bands around here seem more directly influenced by
the New York Dolls and the Stooges.

- In his songs, Jonathan often refers to Boston,
do you recognize that Boston or do you think
that Jonathan memories are only fed by nostalgia
for a city which does not exist anymore ?

Billy:The things that Richman writes and sings about still exist
because Boston still exists.
Nancy:Hey,Jacques,that is an excellent question. Firstly while on
one level, I agree with Billy that the Boston of Richman's songs
still exists. People still drive into the city from the suburbs on
Route 128. People still drive past the Stop And Shop.(One of the
first things I did when I moved to Boston was to apply for a
Stop and Shop discount card!) The Government Center is still here.
People still enjoy Impressionist art like Cezanne at the Museum Of
Fine Art. Yet, the way you ask the question lets me know that you
already know the answer and that is to a certain extent the Boston
of Richman's music exists in his heart and mind. This may not be
the best analogy,but one I think is somewhat accurate. You know
the Manhattan of Woody Allen movies. Well,the Manhattan of
Woody Allen movies on one level really exists. On a deeper level,
the Manhattan of Allen's movies is his own creation. When you love
something like Richman loves Boston, you paint it with a certain
patina that a photograph could not capture. Richman's Boston
is a romanticized version in my opinion. And this is the Boston
I fell in love with when I first visited here in 1976.

- Have you got any anecdote related to
Jonathan to tell us ?

Billy:The drummer of the Nervous Eaters,Jeff Wilkinson(RIP)
knew Jonathan Richman.

Jeff Wilkinson

He introduced Alpo and me to Richman.
When we were talking to him we mentioned we didn't want to do
covers anymore,but between Alpo and I ,we didn't have that many
originals. He said he knew a songwriter who was looking for a band .
Richman introduced us to John Felice and we started the Real Kids
with the original drummer Kevin Glasheen.
Nancy:My anecdote also involves the great,departed drummer,
Jeff Wilkinson. I heard that when Jeff was married to Gail,Richman
fell in love with Jeff's wife and used to camp out in their front yard.
I heard Jeff turned the garden hose on Jo Jo!! Better than a cold shower,
but evidently it didn't cool Richman off for long. He ended up
stealing Gail and eventually marrying her. He even has a song
"Gail Loves Me". I must say that Richman sunk in my estimation
when I heard this especially in the light of how well loved
Jeff was and what an interloper Richman came across as.
By the way,.Jeff's son,Jason,I think it is, has a band now and
is also a drummer. Check them out on the internet, the Lonely Kings,
I've gotta double check this.

- What cover of a Jonathan song would you like
to be performed by a Boston band today
(I can imagine Mr Airplane man covering
"astral plane" , but I am not sure that Mr Airplane man
still exists)

Billy:I prefer bands to do their own songs.
Nancy: For comedic effect,I'd like to hear Little Hippie
Johnny Felice sing "I'm straight".

Thursday, November 3

Elsa Dorfman

copyright elsa dorfman 2005 all rights reserved
copyright elsa dorfman 2005 all rights reserved

Elsa's Portraits of Jonathan Richman and Tommy Larkins (and others!)

Wednesday, November 2

The Bostonians #6 : Bob Colby - part 2 -

Following the first part,
the link to which being listed below thanks to R_b,

here we find Bob confronted to Jonathan twice and
learning from him about attitudes and little insects...

Bob and friend

- Have you got any anecdote related to Jonathan to
tell us ?

I never got to know Jonathan all that well on a
personal level, but I do have two little stories.

One day (this must have been around '72 or '73)
I tagged along with John Felice on a visit to Jonathan.
All I remember about the location was that it was
somewhere on Beacon Hill.
As someone who had recently began to outgrow hippiedom,
I had developed a bit of an attitude.
That day, Jonathan fixed all that.
I noticed that he had this gospel album out (I think it
may have been a Jamaican gospel group, but I'm not
sure), and I opined that
they looked a bit, well, lame.

Jonathan responded with
"yeah, not like real *tough guys* like *you*".
And you just had to be there to hear how he said that.
It was about two weeks before I could feel more than
two feet tall.
So if you ran into me a few years later and thought
I was somewhat less attitudinal than your
average punk fan, you may have
Jonathan to thank for that!

Now we go forward to mid-75.
I was briefly (about a month) roommates with Felice that year,
and this time it was Jonathan who paid a visit.

Let me say right here that I don't share Jonathan's
warm feelings toward little insects (or big ones
either). We were having problems with some flying
ones, and I'd put up a pest strip, this sticky thing
that hung from the ceiling and that the bugs were
supposed to fly into and get stuck.
Jonathan was having none of this.
He picked up the pest strip and carried it downstairs,
all the while making up a little song
about how he was going to get rid of nerve gas
(my memory tells me that he was playing his guitar
while he was doing this, but perhaps my subconscious
is just over-elaborating).
After disposing of it, he walked back upstairs
singing about how he had just*gotten* rid of nerve gas.
I was too dumbstruck to say a damn thing.
(to be continued .. yes... )

love that dirty water*

I know this is a little late but I wanted to point you to Modern Kicks again to listen to songs by some Bostonians, Willie Alexander and The Lyres. MK, besides being in the teensy state of Rhode Island, and in the ultra-cool town of Providence, likes all the things we like, including art and philosophy, food and poetry, cats and New England, music and beer.

Our very own Jacques has been assembling a fine series on The Bostonians. If you're new to Jojoblog, or want to read them again, here they are:

The Bostonians #1: Willie "loco" Alexander

The Bostonians #2: Jeff Conolly (The Lyres)

The Bostonians #3: Alex Piandes

The Bostonians #4: Brett Milano

The Bostonians #5: Blowfish

The Bostonians #6: Bob Colby

Jacques' remarkable Modern Lovers Tree traces the relationships between the Bostonians and the Modern Lovers:


PS. Buena Día de los Muertos

(link via Five Branch Tree)

*Dirty Water Lyrics

Friday, October 28

Bring Back Springtime to the World of Nature*

Well now, nature itself must be sighing,
Watching all the animals, the way they’re dying…
Well there’s different kinds of birds won’t be there no more,
You can watch them, the whole kinds are dying.

I just don’t like the way that they’re tearing down the world,
Coz now folks… I love the world more and more,

It hurts my heart when they’re tearing up whole groves of trees,
Coz I love trees more than I ever did before,
So I say to god… god I want to help bring back the springtime of nature,

Meanwhile nature itself must be sighing,
Seeing different kinds of animals that it loves dying,

Well now there’s whole kinds of fish and birds that are there no more,
You can see them the way they are dying,
And it hurts my heart when they’re tearing down the world,
Now that I love the world, more and more,

I just don’t like the way they’re tearing up trees,
Coz I love trees more than I did before,
So I say to god… bring back springtime to the world of nature.

*An unreleased song, performed at Jonathan Swifts, Boston, 1982.

The plight of the Passenger Pigeon...

Last year we were visiting Edinburgh, and went into the Royal Museum. Among the many exhibits was a display of extinct species of birds and mammals. Looking into the displays of creatues & and reading their reasons for extinction was both sad and moving.

Coming away from Edinburgh I wanted to find out some more, especially the story of the Passenger Pigeon, which though I'd heard its name before I knew nothing of its plight. Maybe its story is told in some schools, but not in mine in the UK; anyway here's some of what I found out...


Passenger Pigeons were once the most common bird in North America, probably outnumbering all the other birds in the world, their numbers were estimated to be up to 5 billion birds (yes, thats 5 billion) flying in the skies in enormous flocks.

They were quite an impressive looking bird, larger than you might think, about the size of a large dove, males with a bright red chest plumage.

Flocks could number many, many, millions of birds, flying together up to 1 mile deep, 5 miles wide and 100's of miles long... so vast were the numbers said to be that that they took several days to fly overhead, reportedly making the skies turn dark...

So, if they were so numerous how did they become extinct?

Enter mankind... and unchecked hunting.

Unregulated hunting seems to be largely responsible for the death of the Passenger Pigeon, and removal of their roosts for breeding too. Because they were so common they were also very easy to hunt, for food or feathers, hunters used nets, guns, poles, and smoke to suffocate nesting birds (100's of birds nested in each tree were an easy target) plus many other methods.

In the 1850's it was becoming apparent that the numbers of birds were reducing but nothing was done to outlaw their hunting... 'because they are so common they need no protection'.

They were seen as a cheap food for growing cities, whole trainloads of many thousands of birds being shipped daily to New York, Michigan and other cities. One operation in New York is said to have harvested 18,000 birds each day throughout 1855.

Indiscriminate hunting and loss of seed trees eventually took it's course, setting the birds into an extinction vortex, and by the 1890's adverts were being placed asking for sightings of wild passenger pigeons.

The last passenger pigeon, Martha, lived alone in the Cincinnati Zoo, for a while the zoo had been offering $1000 to anyone able to supply a male passenger pigeon for mating with Martha, unfortunately the reward was never claimed.

In 1914 Martha died, the last of her entire species.

"Men still live who, in their youth remember pigeons; trees still live that, in their youth, were shaken by a living wind. But a few decades hence only the oldest oaks will remember, and at long last only the hills will know."

"We grieve because no living man will ever see again the onrush of victorius birds, sweeping a path for spring across the March skies, chasing the defeated winter from all of the woods and prairies."

"There will always be pigeons in books and in museums but they are dead to all hardships and to all delights. They cannot dive out of a cloud, nor clap their wings in thunderous applause. They know no urge of seasons; they feel no kiss of sun, no lash of wind and weather, they live forever by not living at all."

from A Monument to the Pigeon.

Aldo Leopold, 1947.

Saturday, October 8

40 Watt Club, Athens

last night at the 40 Watt Club in Athens, Georgia

:: set list ::
Give Paris One More Chance
(?) the song about how he loves with his body not with words
Springtime in New York
"this is not a song this is just fooling around"
In Che Mondo Viviamo
Let Her Go Into the Darkness
Corner Store (by request)
Summer Feeling
Pablo Picasso
Older Girl
19 in Naples
Her Mystery Not of High Heels and Eye Shadow
Les Etoiles
Vincent Van Gogh
My Baby Love Love Loves Me

Walter Johnson

Friday, October 7

FWIW: Quiet Please

Allentown (PA) Morning Call
October 6, 2005

"When Jonathan Richman performed at Philadelphia's North Star Bar in 2003, he and the crowd quarreled throughout his 85-minute show over the sound level. Many wanted singer-acoustic guitarist Richman and drummer Tommy Larkins to play louder, but Richman stubbornly insisted the audience make less noise or move closer.

"On Tuesday, the battle will no doubt resume when the 54-year-old performer with the childlike persona and fierce punk-rocker's heart will play at Philadelphia's Theatre of Living Arts. The multi-lingual Richman likely will be performing some songs in Spanish and French -- he may even do the sublimely silly "Couples Must Fight," where he replicates a quarrel in five languages. And there will be those extended acoustic guitar solos, and repeated outbursts of spastic dancing padding the performance.

"But despite his many eccentricities, Richman is one of a kind, with a wealth of wonderful, whimsical material that dates back a quarter-century to his days fronting the Modern Lovers. No one is capable of songs such as "Pablo Picasso," "Roadrunner," "Back inYour Life," "Rooming House on Venice Beach," "I Was Dancing in the Lesbian Bar,""My Career as a Homewrecker," "Give Paris One More Chance," "Vincent Van Gogh,"etc.

"Now, if only he would play them."

Monday, October 3

Erasing Clouds... Yesterdays music is still alive.

This is rock and roll, no matter what music history books will tell us. What, you can't write a rock n' roll song about how much you love New England? Or dedicate a rock song to an insect? Or base one around the idea that when Martians come to earth, the first thing we need to ask them is what flavor of ice cream they like the most? The vision of life on Jonathan Richman & the Modern Lovers is as unconventional, within the contexts of rock music, popular music in general, art, and life, as those of beloved eccentrics like Syd Barrett and Captain Beefheart - and it's just as subversive and rebellious, perhaps even more so.

Read the rest at:

Friday, September 30

M. Ward

M. Ward is recognized as a guitar virtuoso, particularly for his finger-picking style. He attributes his distinctive wisp of a voice to practice and recording habits as a child when he tried to sing without waking his parents.

via All Songs Considered

Listen to M. Ward (with The Shins and The White Stripes) live in concert

Wednesday, September 28

New England

Get this little song by Billy Bragg here

Monday, September 19

The Bostonians #6 : Bob Colby

Bob "the boob" Colby has been a witness of the Boston musical scene since the seventies. He has kept his enthusiasm to discover new and interesting sounds until now. Like Jonathan and many of us, the Velvet Underground triggered his taste in music. Notoriety caught him when his friend John Felice composed and dedicated him a song, a favourite of the Real Kids repertoire, called "do the boob !". Bob has been kind enough to answer my questions at length, so this interview will be published in several parts. He is the first person I know who actually saw the Modern Lovers live, the original ones ..

Pic courtesy of Linda G.

- How was the music scene in Boston in the seventies ?

When I first came to Boston in 1970 (at age 18), there
was very little of the much-hyped "Bosstown Sound"
left. I think I saw one of the last shows the Beacon
Street Union played (and sometime later saw the
onetime leader of Ultimate Spinach playing in an awful
blues band called Crossroads). For the most part, it
was a wasteland for original rock music.

One little exception was a show I saw sometime in the
winter of '70/'71, at the YMCA in Cambridge. I had
gone because of the reputation of Peter Green, former
lead guitarist of Fleetwood Mac (before their
pop-success days), who was headlining. Even though my
tastes were still pretty hippieish (with the exception
of all the VU, MC5 and Stooges I'd gotten into shortly
before leaving home), I was not too impressed by the
hour-long guitar solo that constituted his entire set.

Much more interesting was the opening act, The Highway
Dance Band, featuring this guy who was like nothing
else I'd seen. His plainly-told tales of teenage
relationships were a marked contrast to everything
else around. And as a Velvet Underground fan, I
couldn't help but notice the influence, and appreciate

Of course, my hippie friends had exactly the opposite
reaction - they loved the hour-long guitar solo, and
hated the non-hippie with the compact, funny songs. It
was an early clue that I was beginning to go a
different way than the rest of my generation.

I was too shy to go up and talk to that man, and since
I didn't know his name, or that of any of his
bandmates, or any of their songs, I filed it away in
the back of my mind and almost forgot all about it.

- That was the earliest line-up of the Modern Lovers, did you see them again ?

Local music continued to not be all that exciting,
although I tried to like what I heard because there
wasn't much of an alternative. Until one day in '72 (I
think), when I was attending an antiwar rally on
Boston Common. I had had about all I could take of
laid-back folk-blues for one day, so I turned my back
on the stage and was heading home when behind me a
blast of astonishing sound erupted from the speakers.
It was everything I'd been missing in rock, all
wrapped up in one package. I immediately rushed back
to the stage, and there was that guy from the YMCA!
But now his band was called The Modern Lovers.

I don't know exactly what songs they did that day
(except that they ended with "Don't Let Our Youth Go
To Waste"), and I'm not sure if John Felice was
onstage - I was too busy being completely taken over
and awestruck. Finally, there was something in town
worth following.

And I did. Just about all of the gigs I saw in that
period were at the Stone Phoenix coffeehouse (I think
that was somewhere near Berklee), although I'm pretty
sure I saw at least one Cambridge Common set. There
were usually about 25-30 people there, and I felt I
had stumbled upon this incredible secret. How could
people not know this was the most exciting band in the
world? (Somewhere in this period, WBCN began playing
"Roadrunner", but I never noticed a big effect on
crowd size.)

the Howard J. FENWAY near route 128

But if you looked around, you knew that there was a
buzz growing that was reaching far beyond this town. I
always got there early enough to grab a front-row
table, and ended up sharing that table with some
fairly significant out-of-towners. One night there was
David Geffen from Arista (now a billionaire, but
looking more like a homeless person on that particular
night), and another night Kim Fowley (sporting a huge

- How do you recall that period of time now, considering how Jonathan changed in his way of singing ?

That was a true Golden Age for me, even if it was only
one band - I didn't need much more. As everything
does, it ended. By the time the Cale-produced album
came out, Jonathan had decided that the volume in his
music might hurt young childrens' ears, and the
electrifying intensity of those gigs was replaced with
a much more gentle approach. I came to appreciate that
approach over time, but it when it happened it was
disconcerting. I've seen him a number of times over
the years (although not in recent years), and I like
what he does, but *for me* it can never have the same
impact as that day on the Boston Common, and the days
that followed.

- some of us had been dreaming of a Modern Lovers reunion , even the Velvets did it, do you think it could happen ? (I asked directly Jonathan once some years ago, he did not answer, just smiled..)

I know some people would like to see the "classic"
Lovers lineup reformed (even if just for one night),
but Jonathan is in a very different place now, and I
don't know if he could give it all his heart. And if
not, why bother?
(to be continued ..)

Tuesday, September 13

tour dates update- Autumn 2005

note: see sidebar for known current tour dates

Fri Sep 30 Denton TX rubber gloves rehearsal studios

Sat Oct 1 Austin TX The Cactus Cafe

Sun Oct 2 Austin TX The Cactus Cafe

Tue Oct 4 Birmingham AL Moonlight Music Cafe

Wed Oct 5 Memphis TN Hi-Tone Cafe

Thu Oct 6 Nashville TN 12th & Porter

Fri Oct 7 Athens GA 40 Watt

Sat Oct 8 Asheville NC The Orange Peel Social Aid & Pleasure Club

Mon Oct 10 Baltimore MD The Funk Box (8x10)

Tue Oct 11 Philadelphia PA Theater of the Living Arts

Wed Oct 12 NYC NY Bowery Ballroom

Thu Oct 13 Providence RI The Hi-Hat

Fri Oct 14 Somerville MA Somerville Theatre

Sat Oct 15 Albany NY Valentine's

Sun Oct 16 Millvale PA Mr. Small's Theatre

Mon Oct 17 Athens OH Donkey Backstage

Tue Oct 18 Columbus OH little brother's

Thu Oct 20 Ferndale MI Magic Bag

Fri Oct 21 Bloomington IL The Castle Theater

Sat Oct 22 Chicago IL Abbey Pub

Sun Oct 23 Madison WI Orpheum Stage Door

Mon Oct 24 Milwaukee WI Shank Hall

Tue Oct 25 St. Paul MN Turf Club

Always confirm show info locally!

Jonathan and Tommy are touring with Vic Chesnutt

from rubber gloves:

Prolific, profound, and ever full of potty-mouthed piss-and-vinegar - Vic Chesnutt is Prometheus in a wheelchair with a battered guitar – a freak-folk trailblazer, spilling his heart and soul and spleen into the microphone, with a sly drawl, dripping humid, Southern gothic imagery in calamitous, sometimes comic songs worthy of a Greek tragedy.

Monday, September 12

Boston show

Sid Sowder (Too Much Rock) has pictures and video from 16 June 2005 at The Middle East downstairs (Cambridge)

Sunday, September 11

the fans

Richman's fans are as fervent as KISS fans and as nice as your grandma, and that's saying something. Indeed, I saw a middle-aged man standing behind a speaker column the entire show -- dancing, pointing, shaking, lost in the music -- and from his vantage point he could never have even seen Richman's face.

-- Ryan S. Henriquez

Read the rest at PopMatters

little petals all around

Listen to "Down in Bermuda" (from Rockin' and Romance) mp3 at lastnight an mp3 saved my wife

Lyrics and chords here

Saturday, September 10

New Orleans Musicians

Our hearts go out to New Orleans and to everyone on the Gulf Coast who was affected by Hurricane Katrina.

Preservation Hall has set up a fund to help New Orleans musicians.

Listen to "People Say" by The Meters on Home of the Groove

HOTG also has a list of resource links for New Orleans:
The sites below all have forums or message boards with contact information, lists of musicians who are known to be safe and those unaccounted for.

via Modern Kicks

More resource links from House of Blues

Wednesday, August 31

Sexsmith & Kerr

Calgary Sun, 8-30-05:

"Most of the best memories -- the simple, ingrained and timeless memories -- are summer memories. Coffee on a sundeck. Slurpees in an NHL collector cup. Slip 'n' slide. Sidewalk chalk drawings. Hand-holding.

"All of those memories and more -- tennis courts, playing catch, lemonade stands, etc. -- come flooding forth listening to Destination Unknown, the new disc from Canadian songwriting treasure Ron Sexsmith and his longtime musical collaborator Don Kerr.

"The two friends catch -- to quote Jonathan Richman -- "that summer feeling" as effortlessly as a moth in a jar with this refreshing collection of acoustic songs ripe with melody, infused with harmony and sweetened with an innocence that would be cloying if it weren't entirely and utterly believable.

"'Miracles all around, you've only to follow the sound,' Sexsmith sings on the album's opening track. And when you do, the path will take you to a destination known and not forgotten -- back to those summer memories, those simple memories, the best memories."

Tuesday, August 30

summer shows revisited

Jonathan Richman at the Outland
words and pix by promootheus

Here's Jonny!
words and pix by roargh

Both of the above by way of the rockin' shopping center

and then there's this gem: The concert by Phantom Scribbler

Monday, August 29


:: Yaya favourite tunes ::
Thanks to JC Brochard via the Jojolist.

Tuesday, August 16

one more time

Download mp3: Billy Bragg covers "Ice Cream Man"

(3.56 MB) Thanks to Brian for this! Hurry, this link will disappear soon...

Lyrics and chords for "Ice Cream Man" here

Monday, August 15

vintage 1996

From: kk
Date: Thu, 2 May 1996
Subject: Jojo is sexier.

Ladies, please, no need to make excuses for a sexy tangent. Sexy is as sexy does. Besides, I know a whole hell of a lot of men who'd say the same. But I don't think it means that everyone wants to leave their significant others for JoJo. I think he just represents something that is very appealing to many of us. There's a frank sex appeal that just seems to be part of his personality. Maybe it's because he is down to earth and goofy. Maybe it's because he seems to share his vulnerability with his audience while still maintaining a bit of mystery. Or maybe it's the way he dances with that trademark combination of self-consciousness and oblivious-ness. In any case, I don't think you have to be a woman to appreciate that. And I do think it's worth discussing.

To stray a bit from the topic, I also find Jonathan to be strange and distant in person, like his mind is always somewhere else. Granted I've only spoken to him after shows and when he visited our offices, but still it was odd. I think that because I relate so much to his music and his style, I was expecting to relate to him one on one as well. But maybe I've just had bad timing.

- -kk

p.s. I had a great time at both of the Noe Valley Ministry shows in SF. There were quite a number of kids there and highlights included "I'm a Little Airplane" complete with the dance. Friday night he did a touching version of Maurice Chevalier's "Paris Je t'aime." Actually, I am always surprised at how few people actually dance at his shows, especially considering what a dancin' man he is. The Noe Valley shows were even dubbed "a dance party" but the floor was covered with chairs. I don't get it.

Note: This is a vintage post from the old list. If you spend any time at all on an email mailing list, you will assuredly come across a flame war at some point, and some of them are more interesting and less wince-inducing than others. This particular thread was an affectionate jousting over Gary Numan v. Jonathan, arising from Numan's being billed over Jonathan at a "New Wave" festival in the UK. Some of the points hashed over were: which musician was the pioneer, what is new wave music anyway, who had the better hair, and is it a UK v. USA thing? Of course the important matchup was in the sex appeal arena, where there was no question as to who had the advantage.

Wednesday, August 10

Gig Posters art

While there are still some interviews with musicians and artists concerning Jonathan which I will publish in the Bostonian series, Summer seems a good time to look at pictures, here are some gig posters along the years which, I think, are a pretty good reflection of Jonathan's music and mood at the time.
First part concerns the photographers who always seemed to enhance the gloomiest side of our man.

This one does not need any comment, it is the classic shot of the Modern Lovers at Gloucester High gig, angry young men led by a stubborned Jonathan, they are creating both punk music and attitude but they don't know it yet.

Years later, after the "confusion" tour, Jonathan is darker than ever and this poster is a tribute to punk art (the shoes, the lettering, the de-structured picture design) as well as a try to show Jonathan as a mixture of Richard Hell and of Tom Waits. The guy looks unhappy.

Look at this ! Mr Jonathan Richman with THE Amazing Tommy Larkins, this has been clearly designed after beginning of the Irak war, the "not in my name tour". Colours are vivid red and black only. The video screened photograph displays a musician singing in Hell cave among burning fires.. apocalyptic and scary ..

The illlustrators usually sorted out the funny and playful side of Jonathan to inspire them, there are posters with dinosaurs and cappucino mugs. Here I have selected three untypical posters which again are on the edge of something darker.

A poster for a gig in Montreal, Quebec. The girl inspired by J.Cl. Forrest's Barbarella looks decided and unimpressed. She has just done her shopping, having found a musician she just stuffed in her paper bag, Jonathan as a ready to consume item.

This second poster is ambiguous. From a short distance you see peaceful birds embracing a girl's legs with a delicate banner. From a longer distance, this banner looks like the girl is losing her knickers and they are around her knees.

This is one of my favourites. The drawing a la Charles Burns and the girls displaying a picture of a young Jonathan whom they love as being the perfect guy. But have a look at those girls eyes, they do not look to be in love at all. These girls are more likely to wrap Jonathan in a paper and put it in a bag like on the first poster. Great art anyway.

Tuesday, July 19

My Heart was won by a Girl *

Now you’re a very pretty girl, you know…
And I’m glad you came backstage, that’s right,
Glad you came backstage, glad I know you,
But I don’t think you want to do, what you think you want to do,

Since my heart was won by that girl from Forestdale…
I love the world more than I did before, ohh - ohh!

Okay I love the world more, than I did before I met her… that’s right,
My heart has not slowed down… I never close the door,
To me that’s not what falling in love was put there for,

Since my heart was won by that girl from Forestdale…
It goes soft for the world, ohh - ohh…

Now you’re a very pretty girl, I’ll go further than that dear,
You’re a sexy, sexy girl…okay,
Glad you came back stage, glad I now know you,
But don’t think you really want to do, what you think you want to do,

My heart was won dear, by a girl from Forestdale…
And when my heart is in making love, that’s what I want, honey…

So, now, you’re a nice girl too, yeah,
Some boy should cherish you, okay?
The boy who wakes up next to you,
Should thank god above... that he’s slept next to you,

The way I get with my girl from Forestdale…
My heart was won by a girl… Ohh-ohh… Ohh- ohh!

Performed at Mississippi Nights, St Louis, 5th May 1982
(among other places)

*Unreleased Song

The Best that I have Got *

A short unreleased poem performed at the end of the show...

I care not much for clothes,
For clothes can be bought,
If I let you see my body,
I show you the best I have got,

I care not much what cover me,
May be pretty, may be not,
If I want people to discover me,
I show them the best I have got,

The best that I have is just plain honest,
(See the idea of these shows, is… you know)
The best that I have is just plain me,
The more that you add upon it,
The less you’ll see what I want you to see,

When I am naked in my heart,
When I am naked of all thought,
If I let you see my naked body,
I show you the best I have got,

Not only do I call myself the Modern Lover,
I’m bragging enough to call myself, the nature boy of rock and roll,
My name is Jonathan Richman… see you later.

Performed at Mississippi Nights, St Louis, 5th May 1982

*Unreleased Poem

Monday, July 11

Live Tapings

There can be a world of difference between what is recorded in a studio and what a band can actually pull off on stage. There are far too many bands out there known for the studio productions only, which to me is about the same as only enjoying a movie for the special effects, all gloss and no substance.

-- Brian

Read the rest at Five Branch Tree

Review: 20 June 2005 9:30 Club Washington DC

Jonathan came to the 930 Club in Washington DC last night in fine form. He seemed happy and he looked good in his green shirt, and even Tommy was smiling off and on. There were some interesting new features to the show--- some good and some bad.

-- Sarah

Go backstage to read more

Pictures from this show

Saturday, July 9

2003: Old Ironsides (Sacramento)

So now, without comparing him to anything or anyone, let me say that Richman is both a gifted and skilled performer. Nobody can teach the way he twists rambling phrases into musical stories. Yet, it takes years of playing to large and small crowds on a regular basis to become so skillful at connecting with an audience and creating such full music from an acoustic guitar with simple rhythm accompaniment.

-- wKen

Read the rest at

Thanks to Adam Sarasota for this!

Thursday, July 7


Well, but to me this ain't funny
To me this is real
So I thought I'd tell everybody
How I feel
About affection
I said affection.

-- Jonathan Richman

Lyrics from Ramon's Jonathan Chord Pages

Herman Düne likes "Affection," from Back in Your Life (thanks to Adam Sarasota for this)

Herman Düne website

Download mp3: Live "Affection" from 1983 Penthouse College Tour 10.26 MB

Download mp3: "Affection" from Back in Your Life 5.63 MB

Thursday, June 23

Kansas City: Lover's Lane

Seems she stayed with a couple in Brooklyn who had all of Richman's work, from his time with the Modern Lovers to his time with Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers, through his country period and his Latin period. The couple also had a CD burner when no one else did, and this is how our friend was baptized into the cult of Richman, which she has since found to be a pervasive and enduring religious fixture across the globe...

-- Sarah Smarsh

read the rest at The Pitch

Monday, June 20

Thursday, June 16

The Bostonians #5 : Blowfish

Paul "Blowfish " Lowell is in the Boston rock milieu since 1975 as he explains it on his web page ( .

Blowfish and the Count

He is also contributing to the famous Boston Groupie News, the ultimate punk rock fanzine which has been edited since 1977 by the dangerously attractive Miss Lyn. Nowadays the BGN is still existing in an on line format , it is of course the page to read to get the most sophisticated news about Boston music nowadays and also be able to read the vintage interviews from the golden age. Blowfish has many interesting stories about Jonathan as you will read on his own page, but for now here are his answers to my questions :

Hi Jacques,
These questions have been fun, first off you should read this.....

- What was the first Jonathan song you heard ?

Roadrunner. Just like many people in Boston. Probably on WBCN. It was way before the LP was put out. It was just a tape for many years before it got on vinyl.

- Did you ever see the original Modern Lovers on stage ?

No. Wish I did.
- When was your first Jonathan concert and how was it ?

I actually didn't see Jonathan until the early 80's. Just missed a few quest shots he did a few times.
It seems to me that Jonathan's concerts have been pretty consistent for many years. He puts forth his personality and songs and it just never misses. The crowd is always receptive.
- Your favorite album and favorite songs ?

Album: Outside of the original Modern Lovers LP which is hard to beat and obvious pick, I would say the Rock and Roll Lp then the Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers
Songs: Girl Friend, New England, Abominable Snowman, Summer Morning Vincent Van Gogh, That Summer Feeling, Back in Your Life, New Kind of Neighborhood, Affection, Chewing Gum Wrapper. know I just love tons of them.
- When Jonathan plays today in Boston, do you go to see him ?

I try. I don't catch him as much as I want. Last time he played the Somerville Theater and a union strike happened in the interim and screwed up the whole affair.
- Are you familiar with his recent CDs ? Do you like the way his music has evolved ?

I missed the last one I think. But I have liked him all along. The big change happened way back with him letting go of the ROCK thing. I love the fact that he has made his own space. He's in his own universe. I like the way he writes his songs and his guitar playing and the feeling he gets in his songs and playing live.
- As you have been part from the Boston rock scene from its very beginning , how do you judge Jonathan influence on the local musicians then and nowadays ?

BIG influence early on. Direct influence on the musicians he played with that stayed in town..John Felice. Asa Brebner, Andy Paley, Beth Harrington, Ellie Marshall, and David Robinson.
Let's go back into the way back machine...before 1974. Those who would be punkers latter were around town and were very aware of Jonathan and his gigs on Cambridge Common. He was a musician they looked to and thought I want to do that or we could do that and play. Regular outlets (like rock clubs) only wanted cover bands or wishy washy rock. All the early punkers would site Jonathan as an influence...Rassler, Willie, Monoman...just everybody.
Now, I don't see much influence at all with the current crop of musicians. Does anyone else see his influence? I would love to be corrected.
- In his songs, Jonathan often refers to Boston , do you recognize that Boston or do you think that Jonathan memories are only fed by nostalgia for a lost city..

I think he captured the city pretty good. Roadrunner really gets that Rt 128 thing to a T. That's part of his genius to me. He soaks up the ambiance around him. Chewing Gum Wrapper does this. It's an existential grasping of the quotidian. In this song he partakes of the time and space around him. The mundane subject matter helps you to get the point. The whole universe is in everything even the lowly gum wrapper. He does this time and again. I wish everyone could get this point.
- Have you got any anecdote related to Jonathan to tell us ?

Again I would go with

- What cover of Jonathan songs could you imagine done by the Downbeat 5,Lyres, or Kenne Highland ?

Number one of course is the fact they could ALL do Roadrunner (and probably have) and do it great, but that's too obvious so.......

Kenne Highland : To hear him do Ice Cream Man or Abominable Snowman In The Market would be a howl. I think he would take them and add all sorts of side comments that would just be the funiest thing.

Lyres: Important In Your Life - I'd love to hear the organ on this. I think they would streamlike it like Johnathan does the solo section and pump it up. Also, This Kind of Music has a great groove that the Lyres would excell at.

DB5 : I love to hear Jen belting out New England. Also, they could run with Fender Stratocaster.

Kenne Highland and Asa Brebner among other friends of Jonathan's

Sunday, June 12


I encourage you to scope out the links in the sidebar; all the Jojolinks are muy bueno, and all the Neighbors in the Neighborhood are ultra cool (and some are even old old friends and denizens of Jojoland).

MOISTWORKS is an excellent MP3 blog, and this is a fascinating account of musical connections to Elvis Costello's Armed Forces, written by Franklin Bruno. No Jonathan Richman here, but everything is related, right?

Friday, June 10

The Fenway

The Fenway

And there's a silence to that place
as you stand there in the sun
and there's also this haunting silent sorrow,
Cause the glory days have gone
And there is silence in the Gardner Museum
Where's that?
Well, it's on the Fenway, where I've dreamed my dreams
Boston's Fenway, where I've dreamed my dreams....

-- Jonathan Richman, from "The Fenway"

Jonathan played "The Fenway" at the Earl in Atlanta Thursday night and it was a moment of rare beauty. Although it was really really hot in there you could feel the crowd all getting goosebumps at the same time.

More later.

Tuesday, June 7

I don't write it, I just make it up...*


It's Jonathan Richman. You've seen him maybe on Late Night With Conan O'Brien where he has been their most frequent guest. Or maybe on the documentary about rock music on PBS, where they had him talk awhile. You might have heard his songs even if you don't know who he is because movies like Repo Man have used them and people like Joan Jett have made recordings of them. The same goes for his guitar playing which they've used as score music on a network TV show or two. In fact, even your children may know him from Sesame Street, when they play "I'm a Little Airplane."

He's never had a big record or CD here in the USA. But he did have two Top Five in Europe back in the 70s, namely "Egyptian Reggae," the biggest, and "Roadrunner," the one Joan Jett recorded, among others. "Egyptian Reggae" [was] an instrumental tune that was a big disco hit in the summer of '77 everywhere from Finland to Spain...

Richman likes singing and playing in front of audiences the most, as opposed to some musicians who enjoy recording the most and only tour to "support" their record. He has not had a vacation from touring longer than two months in maybe 15 or perhaps even 20 years. Since no records of his were released between 1979 and 1983, it was rumored in the European press that he had taken a sabbatical from showbiz during this time, but not so... He's been averaging 130 or 140 shows a year these past few years.

Considered surly by the music press, perhaps not with reason, Richman is reluctant to talk in print. Usually he avoids the big music magazines and is more likely to talk to the daily papers. Some reporters for these leave an interview less than satisfied with his (usually) short answers. Richman says, "I have a hard time answering a lot of their questions, especially when they ask me what a song is about. O-o-h-h I hate that! Or if they ask how I write my songs. There's nothing to tell them! The songs just come to me."

He's usually nice enough to his fans though, and is one of the pop singers who tries to personally answer his fan mail.

He's a veteran international performer right at home in front of audiences who don't speak a word of English. He sings some in Spanish, French and Italian and has translated some of his songs into Spanish. Among his favorite countries to play in are Spain, Greece and Japan. He loves French singers too and is a big fan of Maurice Chevalier as well as Charles Trenet, Charles Aznavour, and Edith Piaf.

Among his other favorites are Van Morrison, Eric Burden, Nana Mouskouri, John McCormack, Marty Robbins, Pedro Infante, Sam Cooke, John Lee Hooker, Etta James, Nicholas of the Gypsy Kings, and Evan Dando.

He eats bread and olive oil. He loves Japanese food. He likes cheap red wine when he's in Spain, Greece, or Italy and enjoys the occasional cigar. He drives a car but would rather be riding his bike.

In the future, he'd like to get into scoring movies and before he quits showbiz some day, he'd like to sing in Central America and South America.

-- Press release from Vapor Records 2 August 1996

*Jonathan Richman on his songwriting process

Friday, May 20

The Bostonians #4 : Brett Milano

Brett Milano is a rock critic based in Boston, writing in various newspapers and magazines. He wrote a fascinating book two years ago, "Vinyl Junkies" a journey in the world of record collecting. Where Nick Hornby's "High Fidelity" was a novel, this is the real world with famous characters like Monoman and peter Buck among others.

It is a funny book too. Brett is a true connaisseur of rock music and particularly of what has and is happening in Boston.

He wrote the liner notes to the DIY CD dedicated to Boston in the series. He spent time to answer my questions for which I am grateful to him.

- What is the first Jonathan song you ever heard ?

I was in college reading rock mags (Trouser Press especially) in 1977, so I bought the second album (easier to find than the first). So the first song would've been "Rockin SHopping Center." After reading descriptions of the first album I was pretty surprised, I was expecting punk rock! But I was into Genesis, etc, so I never realized a rock record was supposed to be that much FUN...

- What is your favourite album ?

Got to be the first, though I'm also partial to Back In Your Life and Jonathan Sings.

- When was the first show of his you attended and how was it ?

I moved to Boston in 1980 (after graduation) and he was pretty visible around then. Lots of acoustic and small=band shows. By then I knew all the albums and was a pretty big fan, so I loved it-- remember being especially into songs like Vincent Van Gogh and SUmmer Feeling which hadn't been released yet. Around the same time I went to a friend's wedding and the late D. Sharpe was playing drums in the wedding band. We kept shouting for Ice Cream Man but the rest of the band didn't know it.

- What is your favourite period in his musical career ?

I'm always going to be partial to the original Modern Lovers-- they were a great band and every song is pretty much essential. I also really love the first batch of troubadour-type albums where he was upending everybody's expectations of what he was supposed to be doing. There was a great in-your-face aspect to this..He got a lot more comfortable once people came around to what he was doing.

- Do you think he has or had an influence on the Boston music scene post 1978 ?

Absolutely. He'll always be really well thought of here. Boston loves good songwriting and he's still thought of as a Boston artist, even though he hasn't lived here in a long while. He plays here at least once a year, usually for two or three nights in a club or a theater, and always draws good crowds.

- Are you familiar with his most recent songs and what do you think of them ?

I missed the last couple of albums, but caught up with the live DVD that came out this year. I'll admit I started losing interest after many years of the troubadour thing, it seemed he was getting a little too cute sometimes and overdoing the sweet sensitivity and the jokes. But parts of the DVD really surprised me...both for the political song and for how powerful some of the new songs are. I think "The Night is Still Young" finale is incredibly life-affirming, the kind of moment he's been trying to do for years.

- How do you appreciate Jonathan evolution from the Modern Lovers rock
sound to nowadays troubadour ballads ?

Seems he found his direction after the original band split up and never looked back. I admire his persistence for never cashing in with a Modern Lovers reunion touor...though I would certainly be there if he ever did it.

- Are you sensitive, as you have been living in the Boston area for a
long time, to the way Jonathan describes in his songs the Boston
surroundings ?

I moved to Boston in 1980 (went to college in western Massachusetts), so for awhile I kept idenitfying references in the songs-- "Hey, I'm in the Lonely Financial Zone!" Still find myself singing :Modern World" when I walk past BU. Also, a lot of us who went to school in Amherst really loved the local references in the "Roadrunner Thrice" single.

- I found that the last album reminded much of the Velvet Underground
for various reasons. Are you also aware of VU references in Jonathan's
music even nowadays ?

Like I said, I missed the last couple of albums (the last one I own is I'm So Confused). I am surprised that he is still referencing them though. I know the song he wrote about the VU in the 80s, but otherwise he seems to be in a different place from them. Think he nailed it when he played the VU song once and said "I had more fun playing that than they ever had."

- Any anecdote related to Jonathan ?

I've never met him and am not sure I want to...I know people who've met him and found him to be rude and dismissive; and I've heard of him being bristly in interview situations. Always hate when that happens with people you admire..but you've probably met him so I would be curious to hear your experience.

- What Jonathan song would you think as pertinent to be covered by the
Lyres , the Real Kids and the Downbeat 5 ?

There's a great garage band iin Boston called the Prime Movers who are doing "She Cracked." I would love to hear the Real Kids do "I'm Straight" but I'm sure that will never happen (John Felice is Hippie Johnny, right?). I can hear "Stop This Car" with Lyres organ, easy! Asa Brebner still does "Roadrunner" on a pretty regular basis and it sounds great-- He does the full throttle rock version that they never did when he was in the band.

Tuesday, May 17

june 2005 tour

Thu Jun 2 Tucson AZ Club Congress
Sat Jun 4 Houston TX Continental Club
Sun Jun 5 New Orleans LA One Eyed Jacks
Mon Jun 6 Gainesville FL Common Grounds
Tue Jun 7 Tampa FL Skipper's Smokehouse
Wed Jun 8 Orlando FL The Social
Thu Jun 9 Atlanta GA The Earl
Fri Jun 10 Huntsville AL The Crossroads
Sat Jun 11 Athens GA 40 Watt Club
Sun Jun 12 Chapel Hill NC Local 506
Tue Jun 14 Philadelphia PA The Khyber
Wed Jun 15 Natick MA Center for the Arts (w/ Pop Kids)
Thu Jun 16 Cambridge MA Middle East Club
Fri Jun 17 Brooklyn NY North Six
Sat Jun 18 Brooklyn NY North Six
Sun Jun 19 Brooklyn NY North Six
Mon Jun 20 Washington DC 9:30 Club
Tue Jun 21 Youngstown OH Nyabinghi Dance Hall
Wed Jun 22 Akron OH The Lime Spider
Thu Jun 23 St. Louis MO Blueberry Hill
Fri Jun 24 Springfield MO The Outland
Sat Jun 25 Kansas City MO The Hurricane
Sun Jun 26 Norman OK Da Opolis
Tue Jun 28 Boulder CO The Fox
Wed Jun 29 Salt Lake City UT Kilby Court

Always confirm show info locally!

Les Gripkey will be selling Jonathan Richman authorized merchandise online soon.

flying saucers rock'n'roll

"Up in the Sky Sometime" mp3 at Modern Kicks
from Rockin' and Romance

also "Telstar" by the Ventures

listen before they disappear

Monday, May 16

happy birthday jonathan!

happy birthday jonathan!

from Jonathan's pen:

"Mr. Richman was born in Boston in 1951. He started to draw pictures all day long from the age of 5. Played baseball all day long from the age of 9. This would not leave time for anything else, would it?

He took up guitar at 15, started playing in public at 16, and by 17 had caused many people to leave coffee-houses... quickly... with their hands over their ears, and by 18 was sure he wanted to sing professionally. He promised himself that if it ever became work instead of fun he'd quit that day. And... if it ever does, he will.

He left home at age 18, moving to New York. Since he was ten years old and first was taken there by his parents, he wanted to live there and also his favorite rock band The Velvet Underground was there along with the artist Andy Warhol (since deceased). Now this band we just mentioned... they had a big effect on young Richman. Yes, he admired their sincerity, their dark sound, and their ability to improvise both lyrics and music onstage. "

read the rest at

a warm Thank You! to dh at