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