Saturday, May 16

Happy Birthday Jonathan!

Happy Birthday to a man who, I have learned, has obviously touched all of us in different but very tangible ways. Happy 58th birthday, and may you have many more.

I thought the best of all possible things for us to on Jonathan's birthday is post some of the many responses about why we love Jonathan, and how much he's affected us.

"After a day on the road we pulled into the rear parking lot of The Highland Inn. As we were getting out of the car I could see the curtains billowing from one of the rooms open windows. Through the open window I could see the silhouette of a person playing a guitar. Look, I said to Cindy. There's Jojo in his room playing his guitar! Haha. I joked.
As we were checking in I looked up and there stood Jonathan Richman. Jonathan Richman, I said aloud. "Yes, and who are you?" he replied. After introducing ourselves we exchanged pleasantries for about three minutes and went our separate ways.
The man just radiated a genuine graciousness, sweetness, and intelligence that touched my heart." - Joe

"I found the album "Jonathan Sings!" in my friend Jake's kitchen when I was sixteen. It was his mother's record and he put it on and told me that this was the godfather of punk.
We listened and got down to that whole album standing on the linoleum floor, taking breaks from huddling around the boombox to dance by the stove.
When it was just ending his Mom came in and started laughing and dancing too. She was thrilled that we were interested in the Richman way and told us that she used to follow him on tour in her college days. That night she sent me home with a pile of albums and I'll never be able to thank her enough." -Max

" I love JR because he speaks the truth to me in his songs. He brings a smile to my face when I can't smile. When I hear Jonathan sing I smile on the inside and the outside." - Jerry

"After his final song, I began to walk across the grass to find the rest of my friends, when, Jonathan and I met eyes. Slowly, we walked toward one another, and without a word being said, he gave me a giant hug!!!!!!!! I knew no words needed to be exchanged, and so I simply said, "Thank you, thank you so much." Jonathan looked me straight in the eye and thanked me right back. My thoughtful friend, Nathan, asked to take our picture, and afterwards I said thank you again, and again to which he said, "I'll see you!" And that was it. Never in my life have I felt so many butterflies! I still feel jittery! " - Dani

I love Jonathan's outlook on life. His music makes me feel something that no other performer's can." - Chris

"I've never been lucky enough to meet Jonathan to have a chat but recently managed to see him perform at Dingwalls, and that performance highlighted exactly why I enjoy his music so much, as he seems to exude an incredible amount of happiness regardless of the scenario he's speaking/singing about and at least for me, manages to keep me a feeling little more cheerful even when the world around us seems to be turning to shit. Also I love his dancing, I wish I could get away with that in social situations, but I imagine I'd be laughed out of whatever building I attempted it in as opposed to being given a standing ovation by an adoring crowd." - Steve

"I'm a fan of Jonathan's because he exhibits a poignant vulnerability that welcomes his listeners to let go of their emotional reservations and share in his music. He has an undeniable ability to touch people with his awesome grace and charm. The delight he takes in playing his music is infectious - when one attends his performance, one simply cannot help but reciprocate Jonathan's openness by dancing, singing, laughing and clapping along. It's an incredibly unifying, heartwarming experience. The idea is to express yourself - be yourself - regardless of what other people think. Always rebelling against the norm, Jonathan makes no apologies for being himself, even after drawing accusations from critics of being "silly", "childlike", or even "weird"; coincidentally, those are the qualities that make him most endearing to us. " - Tiffany

"When you would meet Jonathan he was always, and still is largely, perpetual motion. I remember sprinting against him in a foot race through downtown St. Louis. The first time I met him was at the Royalty Theater in the Spring of '79 in London. This was the beginning of the "downhill slide" from British hit maker status. Of course he didn’t care. He was solo and unveiled some beautiful songs, including Shirin and Farad. Afterwards he talked to people as long as they wanted and seemed very interested in getting to know his fans" -Emmett

" So, that’s my first time – Jonathan was great, lots of humour, plenty of
rapport with the audience who had loads of requests throughout the show, but
the best part of the night for me was finally getting to a JR concert and
discovering that lots of other people also loved his music!" - Bob

"have told this already but here it is again. I am used to meet Jonathan after his concerts as he enjoys discussing with his fans. In 2007 though, he had his throat problems and stayed backstage. The journalists who were introduced to him were confronted to a mute Jonathan who was communicating with them writing on a note pad. So they quickly got bored and left. I was waiting outside of the venue, having been pulled out by the security guards and was chatting with Tommy who was laughing telling me what was going on with the journalists inside. Eventually Jonathan appeared, carrying his guitar case. I went to meet him and told him that I had brought him a CD copy of the Velvet Underground acetate which had just been found in a NYC flea market. I had this copy thanks to Patrick, and was explaining to Jonathan that the production of the record was different from the regular banana one, rawer. Jonathan put his guitar case on the ground and hugged me, thanking me and actually speaking to me. He said he had seen the the Velvets about 150 timesin concert and loved that band." -Jacques

"But my favourite story about Jonathan happened 2 years ago. He played at the town where I live now. The theatre was outside the city center, and after the show I was waiting at a bus stop to return to my home. After a while, a car stopped and honked. And there were Jonathan, Tommy and the Spanish manager (I talked to him several times during all of these shows). They took me back to the city center, and during the trip I was talking with Jonathan about the soundtracks that he recorded, his preferences about the venues, and songs, etc. It was a great moment!"- Alberto

" I saw Jonathan a lot of times live, but met him only once, here in Evreux, late 2003.
There were the 4 of us (my wife and 2 kids are bonafide Jojo fans too) and Jonathan kindky accepted we go to chat in the backstage room. I told to him that my 1st son is called Jonathan, that he was 4 when when bring him to his 1st Jojo show.
We also talk about all the other songs I'd like him to play live, a lot I got on bootlegs but never saw him play. He answered that I got much more albums of him than he got, ahahah
I talked about kids, her little girl ...
I also said to him that for me it's a pity that he's not more succesfull. I mentioned that I thought it would be huge recognition after the success of "There's Something About Mary".
He answered that he probably doesn't deserve a large successn that's all, and he added that he's happy for a guy like Eminem who sells bazillions of records.
I reckon that success is strange, and talked about Bruce Springsteen and Elliott Murphy : one hasto be the new Dylan - CBS picked up Bruce but it could have been Elliott ...
Jonathan said he didn't agree with that, that for Bruce it was a matter of life or death, and Elliott when he has to work apart of music, can have a job as an accountant (in an interview to jacques, Elliott denies).
I told to Jonathan that he's a peachy guy and a wonderful human being to react like that, no jealousy or else ...
Then Jojo and Tommy signed our show tickets, we took a few photos and let them have a well deserved rest." - Patrick

And what about me? Well, I have loved Jonathan and been a huge fan of his for years, even as I dropped some things in favor of new ones, Jonathan always stayed. His music is all at once complex and simple, but always beautiful, and, I find, has this unique ability to bring people together. I cannot tell you how many times I have been in the car with a group of friends, and "I Was Dancing in a Lesbian Bar" comes on, and it is an instant sing-along dance party. His concert performances show his almost talmudic way of looking at music - lyrics are always different, nothing is static. I think he's absolutely wonderful.

The time I finally met Jonathan was in a cold, cold venue in Olympia, the trip where we got trapped in a snowstorm on the way home and had to wait to drive on. He finished his set, and sat down by the side of the stage. I was surprised how many people did not immediately approach him, but chose instead to meander out the door into the even colder night. I was very nervous, and actually almost pussed out, had my friends not been practically shoving me. I love them for that. I have never been a shy person, but in that moment, I had nothing to say. I thought everything I could possibly say would be stupid and trite, and I wanted to be somewhat intelligent sounding. Too bad for me. I managed to barely whisper out that I had been listening to him for years, and that we drove all the way from Montana to see him play. He looked surprised and genuinely touched, and exclaimed "Really?" I nodded, and he gave me hug, and I asked if I could take a picture with him. He said yes, asked me where in Montana we were from, and chatted a bit. I slipped away shyly, jittery, and smiling like mad. He was the nicest man, and I will remember that for as long as I live.

So again, Jonathan, happy birthday, and thank you.

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