Friday, November 4

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".

1 comment:

  1. Yeah great times....seen him at the cambridge common