Tuesday, June 30

I love Alexandra Molotkow

Seriously. I want to be her best friend. Some of this may be that she titled her article "What Would Jonathan Richman Do?", one of my daily reminders to myself not to be such a sassy twit and actually try to be nice to people. Or it may be that she also mentions "Not Just a Plus One On The Guest List Anymore" as one of the happiest songs about all the reasons someone is leaving you. Ir maybe I'm really jealous of the fact that she got to have dinner with Jonathan. Or I love the way she writes. In any case, I felt lucky when I stumbled across her piece at the Walrus Blogs today.

Jonathan Richman doesn’t believe in air conditioning. He doesn’t think that our comfort is worth expanding the ozone hole for, and he feels that “when we refuse to suffer,” we “cheat feeling.” Fair enough, but the motionless ceiling fans above the Great Hall in Toronto, whose floors are slick with sweat, are a bit of a kick in the ass. Sandwiched between my boyfriend and a pair of loudmouthed forty-somethings who are yelling out song requests and botching the titles (”play Summertime Feeling!”), watching Jonathan make eye contact with the audience and wiggle through his dance routine, I’m torn between primal rage and tears of joy. Don’t get me wrong—I take Jonathan’s words as gospel. Living them is a different story.

JR was one of the great discoveries of my life. One of the hardest parts of growing up is realizing that life is actually pretty good, that what seemed like serious pain was really boredom and sexual anxiety. At sixteen, having obtained a fake ID, and, with much effort, convinced someone to sleep with me, I was content. It wasn’t easy. For one thing, I could finally see my musical heroes for what they were: petulant children with undiagnosed personality disorders. Nevertheless, my record collection remained a monument to unwarranted self-pity. When I found Jonathan, I found the idol I should have started with. Whereas most rockstars’ songbooks read like manuals for fucking up your life, JR’s is the ongoing autobiography of a satisfied person.

Jonathan called me the following evening. My mother asked me who it was and what he wanted; I told her that the middle-aged singer from There’s Something About Mary had invited me out for supper. She panicked. Of course, she didn’t need to: Jonathan is the only fifty-something I can think of who could go for dinner with a couple of teenaged girls in absolute innocence. I sat to the left of Jonathan and ate hunan tofu on rice. He talked when he had something to say and smiled otherwise. When the meal was over, my fortune cookie read, “Stop looking forever—happiness is sitting right next to you.”

I spent the following year in a state of apple-cheeked optimism. It was the simple fact that people like him existed, that it was actually easier to be happy than to be hung up on petty disappointments. I prided myself on my positivity, and took heart in the fact that Jonathan Richman would have disapproved of all the jerks who gave me attitude.

Go read the rest over here. Not if you want to, just go read it.

Pictures are stolen in the dead of night from the talented Mr. Forester of flickr.

If you have any reviews or tips for me, email me using my address from the button in the sidebar. However, I will be GONE Thursday through Saturday to go see Jonathan in Salt Lake (!!!), so don't be offended if I don't get back to you right away :)

Monday, June 29

Another question

It was brought to my attention that some people's favorites might be a function of nostalgia. True enough, my favorite album for a long time was I, Jonathan, which was the most random present I was ever given.

What was your first Jonathan album?

I, Jonathan was given to me as a gift, an obviously used CD from the shop in town. A used CD of a guy I had never heard of was not the sort of gift I thought I'd like, but I accepted it graciously and moved on. The promises that he was someone who seemed up my alley didn't tempt me until I was bored about a week and a half later. From the moment I put it on, something about him grabbed me. By the time I finished the album, I had to have everything he'd ever made. And so we find ourselves here today. ANyone else have any good "How I obtained my first Jonathan album" stories? Or just memories of the first one you had?

Edit: Holy Crap, I had no idea so many people started with The Modern Lovers. Am I just too young? Or did you come in on it years later, like some indie music acquaintances of mine?

Sunday, June 28

To satisfy my own curiousity...

I noticed, while going through the entries for the contest, that a vast majority of you prefer Jonathan's much older stuff. Most of the votes were for albums from before 1990. First, to catch most people that come here, and not just those inspired by the promise of stuff, I have created a poll:

Which Jonathan album is your favorite?

Secondly, those of you that do prefer Modern Lovers-era Jonathan, I have a question. The man no longer plays anywhere close to that style (although the "When We Refuse to Suffer" redux took me by surprise), and live, he hardly ever plays anything from that time, though "Pablo Picasso" and "Egyptian Reggae" being exceptions. So, what keeps you coming back? Has he managed to catch you with any of his new stuff?

I'm just curious being as I'm an exception to this trend, and prefer Jonathan recent work much more, and in fact hardly ever listen to anything older than Modern Lovers 88. As for the first Modern Lovers album, my roommate actually commented the last time I was listening to it, it's so rare. I think Not So Much To Be Loved As To Love is nature's most perfect album, and if I could only listen to one Jonathan album, that would be it.

So let me know! I'm curious!

Saturday, June 27

Nugrape Here Again!

Hello Jojo World,

Time for another installment of great unreleased Jonathan Richman songs.
Why do I want people to hear this stuff?

Well, you see, I am of the belief that Jonathan Richman is the most underrated artist of all time. You could fill ALBUM'S of his unreleased work and they would stand just as tall as anything he officially released. There must be people like me who for years only heard the offical albums. And they are so great! They are truly special! And they are so good, that one could become content with them.
But there is more to the story!

As proof, I submit a couple more essential Jojo songs to turn you're heart a-flutter. Don't be afraid to love these song's, because they are as good as they sound! And there are many more song's that hopefully I will be able to post in the future that are just as special as these songs.

It is just too unfair for these songs to only be listened to by the fortunate few who have "trade bait" to obtain them.

It's time for these songs to be freely available to any JR fan who checks this blog to enjoy!

So, here's a few more, and if they mean as much to you as they do to me, then "Tell How You Feel"!

Ice Cold Nugrape(3-19-83 Santa Monica, CA McCabe's Guitar Shop)
Bundle Of Joy(5-18-78 Herentals, Belgium)
My Heart Was Won By A Girl(1980-The Lost Tapes)

ps: I just started my JR webpage, and it has links to the songs that I have posted so far. Soon it will have all sort's of cool stuff!

Monday, June 22

More reviews from the road

From reader Sarah, regarding Jonathan at the 9:30 club in DC:

I had the pleasure of seeing Jonathan last night at the 930 Club in DC. And
I do mean it was a pleasure, because Jonathan was happier, and more playful,
and more dance-y than he has been the past few times I have seen him. He
even took a couple of requests and I don't think he has done that too often,
at least where I have seen him.

He had a whole bunch of new songs, and so I don't know the names of them, so
I guess I will try and describe them. His new songs seemed to follow the
theme of making fun of elitist or modernistic things, and included such
subject matter as "gated communities", "affected accents" (one of the
funniest ones), and cellphones (as in "I don't wanna get a cell phone").
These songs all had very funny, satirical lyrics and they got the crowd
laughing. Vic Chesnutt preceded Jonathan and he sang some very funny,
satirical songs too, but his angle is somewhat darker and more cynical than
our Jonathan, but I did laugh quite a bit at his songs. I liked Vic a lot
and thought he was a great compliment to Jonathan's show. Also, it looks
like Vic and Tommy and maybe even Jonathan have made a CD together, so Tommy
accompanied Vic during the latter half of his set.

Jonathan did my favorite "I Was Dancing in a Lesbian Bar", which was the
best version of that song that I have ever seen, complete with lots of
dancing, lots of cowbell, lots of jingly bells, and many false endings, only
to come back with another verse or two. Needless to say, the crowd went
wild! I never get tired of that song.

In fact, he did several extended versions of songs, with Tommy doing drum
solos, and Jonathan doing cowbell and jingly bell solos, and flirting and
dancing towards the crowd. Tommy did a lot more complex drumming than I
have seen before also. After the show had finished, we asked Tommy about
some of the new songs we hadn't heard before, and I believe he said they are
not even on an album yet.

A tiny snippet from Backstage at the Narrows:

Your humble blogger went to talk to Jonathan Richman "backstage" at the Narrows about a half hour before showtime Friday night. There he was--a musical hero to your humble blogger, asleep on the couch.

I left, resisting the urge to snap a photo.

We chatted later, working out how I was to introduce him and his drummer Tommy Larkins.

He put on a quirky performance, picking up his guitar then putting it down constantly, picking up bells and dancing, wandering away from the microphone, re-arranging where the audience was sitting, etc. And the quirky crowd positively adored him.

The pictures are from the lovely Brooklyn Vegan

If you have anything for us over here on the Jojoblog, let me know!

Sunday, June 21

Hi, NuGrape Here!

Hello Jojo World,

Thanks to the admins for letting me post.
So, I'll tell you this:

For years all I had were the albums. I'm in my 20's, and I wasn't really around to get most of his records as they came out, so this was a pretty hard task! Getting the more rare albums like Jonathan Sings, Rockin' and Romance, and especially "It's Time For...", was such an awesome journey! And they're all worth it!

In fact, I can't say that I've ever been let down by this guy's music.
It's changed me. And challenged me.

"It's Time For..." was the hardest to get. I remember seeing on message boards every now and then, someone would ask for someone to make a copy for them. These people wanted it, but couldn't find it. Or couldn't pay 200 bucks for it on ebay!
When I finally got "It's Time For..." (on tape off ebay for 40 bucks(!)), I thought that my JR voyage was about over as I had pretty much everything he had recorded.

Well I was wrong. I saw something called "The Lost Tapes" over at Ramon's lyric and tab site. It had all these song's I had never heard before! Well, some extremely nice person on the Net actually gave me a copy for free, even though I didn't have anything to trade, and through this I had a means to trade and discover the underworld of Jonathan Richman.

I discovered that there were HUNDREDS of other JR recordings, whether it be live shows, unreleased studio takes and songs, radio stuff etc.
And it's all great, most just as beautiful as the albums that I had listened to so many times over!

Well, I'm gonna share some cool stuff on the Jojo Blog because I get a kick out of everytime Bob posts songs. It makes my day, and I want to spread more of that joy.

So, here we go, a few songs to enjoy:

Update 2016: To hear a bunch of rare songs, check out the home page at icecoldnugrape.com

Friday, June 19

More Bowery reviews

Something about the Bowery Ballroom makes people want to write reviews. I'm not going to question the miracle. First up, from the Village Voice:

"Blame me, don't blame them", said Jonathan Richman about a third of the way into his close to two-hour set last night, "I did it." Sweat was beginning to prickle the crowd, and the rare funk of grown-ups could no longer be ignored. Jonathan enthusiastically confessed that he'd had the air conditioning turned off in the name of ambiance, something that means a lot to him. "I got a plan when it gets too hot, though, I got a secret plan." Immediately playing an extended version (with reprise!) of the eternal party starter "I Was Dancing in The Lesbian Bar" did not seem like that good of a plan.

There are various reassuring constants to a Jonathan Richman set. Jonathan will walk to the front of the stage and sing and play guitar unamplified at various junctures. The expressionless Tommy Larkins will hold the line on the skins and the crowd will sing the words. Jonathan will dance extensively, a palette of moves that includes the neck roll, the knee drop, the guitar twirl, the hip swivel, the hair primp, the hand on heart, the en garde, and the graduation photo. He will show no regard for the structure or lyrics of his songs, no matter how sacred. "Girlfriend," at this point a foundational piece of American rock, ended last night with a cavalier and not massively purposeful note-to-self riff about icicles on a park bench. The sweet recent "Her Mystery Not of High Heels and Eye Shadow" detoured into ancient downtown memories, and it took two dance breaks and a drum solo ("Let's see what Tommy's up to right now") for him to properly describe the exact effect of Chinese lettering in fading red enamel paint over white tile left over from the early '60s on Canal Street. By the time he did a William F. Buckley impression, plopped into a new tune about the accent he affected as a teenager, he had the crowd in his pocket.

You can read the rest here

Secondly, sent to me from lovely reader Howard:

At the end of last night’s Jonathan Richman show at the Bowery Ballroom, a startling thing happened. After graciously giving two encores, JR put his guitar away, started for the exit, and then came back to the mic. He explained that something didn’t feel right to him…that the show had had a lot of ups and downs, but it hadn’t felt good to him, somehow. “We don’t play with any kind of plan,” he explained (speaking for himself and drummer Tommy Larkins, though clearly he’s the only one onstage calling the shots). “And tonight I was really feeling the lack of a plan. We try to keep things fresh…it’s like bread: as soon as you take it out of the oven, it starts to get old.” (I’m paraphrasing) “But I would rather fail like that than play the same stale thing every night.”

Anyone who’s ever gotten on a stage knows what it’s like to have a bad night…to not be connected to the music, or the audience, or oneself. It happens, and it doesn’t feel good. But witnessing Jonathan Richman’s palpable sense of confusion and unrest for not (in his mind) delivering the goods, to see him offer himself up like that in front of a packed house, was really something. One fan suggested he solve the problem by singing his song “Springtime in New York,” and yes, he said, that might very well be just the thing. He called Tommy back to the stage, unpacked his guitar, and performed the song with tenderness and real love for the audience and for the city, and all was well once again in the world.

The rest of his review is here.

Look, I even have a video of the Bowery for you! It's a little shaky and all, but sound quality is good! They've got a couple up from the concert, you should go check them out. I swear to God, Youtube is how I bide my time between concerts.

Thursday, June 18

Jonathan at the Bowery, etc.

Mike Grimes of the Earfarm wrote about his experience seeing Jonathan at the Bowery Ballroom, which was by all accounts excellent:

Jonathan Richman is a simple guy. Likes: creating atmosphere, freshly baked bread, Jan Vermeer, lesbian bars. Dislikes: air conditioning, the internet*, predictability. On Wednesday night, the second of his pair of shows at Bowery Ballroom, Richman and stoic wingman/drummer Tommy Larkins created their own atmosphere - a sweltering and visceral sauna - by shutting off the venue’s A/C and holding forth for a spontaneous and mesmerizing hour and a half of tri-lingual ruminations on love, life, the modern world, and yes, fresh bread, Vermeer, and lesbian bars.

In this humid haze, several songs from last year’s overlooked Because Her Beauty Is Raw and Wild held their own surprisingly well alongside such iconic and cherished staples of his catalog as “I Was Dancing At The Lesbian Bar” and “Girlfriend”. Indeed, newer selections including Because Her Beauty’s poignant title track, show opener “Old World” (not to be confused with the Modern Lovers version), “No One Was Like Vermeer”, and “Como El Pan” (with simultaneous Spanish to English translation as he sung) only reinforced Richman’s continued vitality and relevance.

With a pedigree and background such as his, he could simply show up every night and sleepwalk through the same set amidst the comfort of air-conditioned sterile stages and security of routine…..but where’s the fun in that? As he put it during one of his many (I think I counted four) semi-encores with which he and Larkin would start to leave the stage and then come spinning back a moment later, he’d rather fail spectacularly in a sweaty nosediving fuselage than have things get stale. Wednesday was no failure; with that commanding, indelible, once-in-a-lifetime voice of his and surprisingly nimble classical and flamenco flavored guitar playing, the hot and bothered faithful crammed together in Bowery’s sticky belly had no choice but to surrender to Jonathan.

You can read it here.

There is also a story from Hamilton Morris of Vice Magazine, who had dinner with Jonathan in early 2002, and Jonathan acts a little crazer. :/

Pictures are from Earfarm's flickr, of the Bowery Ballroom show.

Wednesday, June 17

My Baby Love Love Loves Me in Chicago

Or anywhere, I suppose. But this was performed in Chicago. In a bit of a lower register.

Tuesday, June 16

The Feelies at the Whitney Museum of American Art

If you're in NYC Friday next (26 June) and unable to travel to Rochester to see Jonathan Richman, why not see The Feelies?

Dan Graham: Beyond will exhibit at The Whitney Museum of American Art, with The Feelies playing an acoustic evening.

From The Whitney:

The Feelies, one of the most influential rock bands of the past three decades, play a rare acoustic set. This performance presents the group’s legendary complex guitar layering, driving rhythms, and drone passages. (link)

Jojoblog's fantastic Jacques interviewed Glenn Mercer from The Feelies last year (link)

Dan Graham's film, Rock My Religion featuring Patti Smith and Shakers, will be shown in its entirety during the exhibition. An excerpt can be viewed here (link)

See Brooklyn Vegan for more info (link)

Monday, June 15

Review from DC

Caroline P went to go see Jonathan in DC, for the first time in almost 20 years. She emailed me her impressions of the show:

I am just back from Jonathan's concert at the 9:30 Club in Washington, DC, and I thought I'd take you up on your offer to write a review. But, let me preface this email by saying that I was a huge Jonathan fan in the 80's, and this was the first time I had seen him perform since 1990, when I saw him last in Berkeley. Back in the 80's when I was in college, I saw Jonathan in London and numerous times at McCabes guitar shop in LA, where he performed regularly. At those performances in LA, he'd usually come out afterwards and stand around, allowing people to go up to him and say hello a chat a tiny bit (which I did!).

So, with this history, I didn't know what to expect. Would I be disappointed with all of those memories of past performances? I loved all those songs from the 80s -- Ice Cream Man, That Summer Feeling, Give Paris One More Chance, Back in Your Life, etc..., so how would I feel about his music from the 90s and today?

The answer to how I felt, in a word, is awestruck. Jonathan was amazing tonight. He sang in French, Hebrew, and Spanish, and he danced up a storm, which had the whole place clapping and moving (he does like people to dance, you know). The highlight of the evening for me was his performance of I Was Dancing in the Lesbian Bar. There was a synergy with the audience that was magic. He kept the song going on and on, alternately playing the guitar, then putting it down and dancing (while we sang along), all very reminiscent of the "one more time" of Ice Cream Man.

When he said goodnight, the audience was clearly disappointed, and Jonathan truly seemed touched. He came out with an encore, a slow song (More to love than be loved, I think) to help calm us down.

Jonathan is still amazing, just like he always was. He has that special ability to infuse a room with pure joy, and he clearly still loves what he does. He and Tommy together are outstanding, and I hope that they never stop performing.

Thank you, Jonathan!

Pictures are actually from Chicago, and from the very talented Robert Loerzal.

If you have any desire to write a show review, just email me!

Saturday, June 13

Unreleased Live Songs #3

Okay, here's another couple of rare live songs...

The first one, 'Lets Say We Just Met' has been put up for DMD, who requested it in an earlier posting. Happy Anniversary!

The recording here is from The Rex Club, Paris, on 12th June 1985...

Lets Say We Just Met

The second one is a cover of 'Johnny Too Bad', performed by The Modern Lovers at the Boston Center For The Arts, Boston, in February 1974. A warning though - the sound on this one is pretty bad! But given the rarity of the recording and also its age, from over 35 years ago, forgivable to my mind...

Johnny Too Bad

(The previous post is available here: -)


Friday, June 12

Long time listener, first time caller

I had two lovely surprises for me in my inbox: First, a reviewlet from Sarah58, who saw Jonathan at Da Opolis in Norman, OK.

Crowd of a couple of hundred, mainly student types. Too many wanting certain songs and you know as soon as you ask you will not get.

A bit of a "kids scene" with a handful who wanted everyone to know they were there in the room. The quiet spoken Jonathan could not (and did not) compete with "Amanda come to the back". Not sure if Amanda ever did get to the back but the young "ladies" were less than politely asked to be quiet . And they were after that admonishment.

Thereafter it was a rollercoaster 90 minutes or so.

In no particular order, Let Her Go, Whorehouse, Electric party, Viviamo, Vermeer, Lesbian Bar, a couple of instrumentals, My Affected Accent, Time Flying By, Curly and Wild, Gurlfren, Sprintime, Wine, Anti Cellphone rant, Suffering, one Spanish, one French, and Mother Lay Dying.

Might not be complete either.

Highlights - his affected accent about what a brat he was at school as a tennage and his profuse apologies. The cellphone song in which he had a kind of teenage bratty rant.

The Wine Song - rocking out as the might say. He sings as if he means it.

Curly and Wild - and it is all about PRODUCT.

Overall - in fine fettle, fine voice and fine spirits.

Oh and he did reference approaching 60. Suddenly it is not that old.

Secondly, in the vein of "things that never happen to me", lucky guy Jerry sent me a postcard Jonathan sent back to him 15 years ago:

Thursday, June 11

Yesterday and today..

Some old pictures of Jonathan in Boston during the heroic ages of that city.
And some news I got from my pal Thierry who met Jonathan recently in Paris during the European tour. Thierry met Jonathan in front of Notre Dame, Paris cathedral, as Jonathan wanted to study the building and its structure. He is obviously taking this "mason" hobby of his quite seriously.

As far as music is concerned, we might get surprises in the future as Jonathan has been interested recently in barocco music from the XVIIIth century. Nicole, having loved the movie "All the mornings of te world", ("Tous les matins du monde", directed by Alain Corneau and starring Gerard Depardieu), which is depicting the life of the French composer Marin Marais, has decided to start playing Viola de gamba, the ancestor of the cello. Jonathan is very happy with this new musical link and it may influence his coming songs.

Wednesday, June 10

Jonathan meets the Skeletons (& Morells)

"One Note Joe" by The HiRisers


Jonathan at Club Congress

It's all about Jonathan's banter. I love this guy on CD/LP/etc., but I ADORE him live. Even my friend who legendarily hates concerts enjoyed seeing him live. This is an excellent example of why.

Tuesday, June 9

I totally read that book as a kid, and some pictures

John from Flickr caught Jonathan over at San Francisco's Popfest (watching, not playing). I saw the picture and asked him about it, and John said:

on sunday afternoon there was a picnic in delores park, with several bands playing acoustically... jojo was just walking his dog through the park, with a copy of the giving tree under his arm, and just sat down to watch one of the bands (a particularly richman sounding man with a ukelele)... no one troubled him, he just watched and fed his dog, then carried on walking him...

of course afterwards everyone was excited to know that he had been there, but i think good that not too many people noticed him when he was, or it could have dissolved into fanboy hell...

I totally loved that book as a kid. You can catch this picture and his other stuff on flickr.

This next picture is from The Club Congress show, from user fortuna_mom:

If you would like the fame, glory and prestige of being featured on the Jojoblog, please feel free to send along reviews of the shows on this tour. I would love to have your thoughts, and will happily share them with the world via Jojoblog. My email is easily reached by pressing the little button that says chimaerandi in the sidebar.

Saturday, June 6


Maybe you already saw those two links, maybe not.

Revue of Jojo show show at this festival in Brest March 30th

7 cool pix at Cinquième nuit here :

Friday, June 5

Funny Photo

From the Barcelona show review in "Ruta 66" magazine (Photographer: Luis Lecumberry). According to this magazine, Jonathan will be the producer of Vic Chesnutt's new record.