Tuesday, December 24

sleigh bells ring, are you listening?

Image: RB

Rudolph (mp3 via Bob!)

Happy holidays to Jojoblog friends and family! I hope you all have had a chance to read Ramon's story! Heartfelt thanks to Ramon for sharing this staggeringly generous project and much love to Nugrape for everything!


A rarity now up on Youtube:

Jonathan Richman - "Living Room Demos" aka "Solo Acetate" EARLY DEMOS (1973/1974) via Isak Borg


Jonathan Richman's 'Roadrunner' is still in the running to be Massachusett's official state rock song, introduced in a bill to be churned through the legislature by Boston's mayor-elect Marty Walsh and championed by progressive activist Joyce Linehan. Read the eloquent testimony she delivered at the 12/19/13 hearing:

I am proud to say I am the person who asked Representative Walsh, now Boston Mayor-elect, back in January, to introduce this bill. As you have undoubtedly heard, he has had an interesting year, and in a funny way, this Roadrunner campaign became a cornerstone of a forward thinking arts and culture policy that I would argue helped in some small way to propel him to victory. As his campaign Policy Director, and currently his Transition co-chair, I can say the subject comes up frequently, because to a group of dedicated fans of the iconic song who understand it symbolizes hope and optimism while professing its love of our home state, it is important. (read more)

Aerosmith's 'Dream On' is the other contender for the job of Massachusetts state rock song but no one showed up at the hearing to push for it, not even the song's sponsor.


Interesting video documentary coming along with all sorts of The Bostonians from the 70s, many familiar to Jojoblog's readers from our own beloved Jacques's long running series:
The explosion of Boston’s punk rock music scene in the 1970s was a turning point in the lives of many who came of age in nightclubs like the Rat and Cantone’s, hearing bands such as the Real Kids and the Neighborhoods. Chris Parcellin remembered the thrill of traveling with his brothers from their home in Malden to Boston to see these nascent bands, and he wanted to document the experience. (read more)

Boys From Nowhere: The Story of Boston's Garage Punk Uprising via boysfromnowhere


On the tour front, Jonathan Richman and Tommy Larkins have been as busy as ever, with lots of good shows in 2013. A roundup of just a few:

Nashville, 6/23/13 (The Stone Fox):

As Larkins followed every nuance with telepathic grace, Richman remained a body in motion, dancing a perpetual wiry flamenco, moving his guitar around his microphone to change its tone, striking poses like an ancient fresco. Nothing struck us as particularly childlike about this show; sticking mostly to his catalog from the past 10 years, Richman told stories and expounded on philosophical meditations using an adult's elevated language, and occasionally, other languages — Spanish, French and Italian — but never becoming pedantic. Verses were determined by the flow of the narration, not by any mathematical construct. Sometimes they were strung together between choruses, peppered with asides and anecdotes in a range of voices recalling Andy Kaufman or Robin Williams on the standup circuit. During Richman's impressive but tastefully restrained solos, he stared into space, the screens open, channeling instructions from somewhere else. (read more)

Milwaukee, 11/14/13 (Shank Hall):

The A.V. Club: As an early disciple of Lou Reed and The Velvet Underground, do you have any thoughts or stories to share about Reed in light of his recent passing?

Jonathan Richman: Yes. Aside from being exceptionally nice and patient with me, they also, in letting me watch them rehearse at their sound checks, allowed me to learn about sound itself and, by watching them improvise, about improvisation itself.

Lou Reed was my musical hero, and I watched the whole band very closely. I was lucky enough to see them with John Cale many times, too—which were adventures in sound that still affect the music I make. My boyhood hero has changed worlds, I see, but I can hear his speaking voice instructing me, reprimanding me. (I really was a little brat and I started hanging around them when I was sixteen.) He seemed to play guitar in color! He instructed the band onstage; they made new sounds and song structures every time you saw them. (read more)

NYC, 11/21/13, 11/22/13 (Bowery Ballroom)

But even as Richman’s music has grown more complex and sophisticated, he’s retained a faith in simple presentation. Alone onstage, with the exception of Tommy Larkins, who has drummed with him for most of the last twenty years, Richman performs without anything approaching a gimmick. There’s no light show. There’s no complicated choreography. There’s no crowd-sourced set list created in real time via Twitter. (read more)

Philadelphia, 11/22/13 (Union Transfer):

He even managed to fit in a tribute to his “boyhood hero,” Lou Reed, recounting a story of his sixteen-year old self meeting The Velvet Underground and Andy Warhol at a show in Boston. Richman confessed to Warhol that he didn’t understand his art. Warhol replied, “Yes you do.” (read more)

Austin, 11/27/13 (Continental Club):

Jonathan Richman via Pete Minda


Never seen a commercial for one of Jonathan Richman's albums before? Here you go! You're welcome!

A 30-Sec Commercial for Jonathan Richman via It's Terrific Pictures


A gift, from BabylonShadow, from the great show at the Mint in Los Angeles, 12/5/13. During 'Bohemia' (approx. at 31 minutes) Jonathan extolls for a little while about Velvet Underground, Sterling Morrison, and Lou Reed.

1) No One Was Like Vermeer

2) Let Her Go Into The Darkness
3) Keith Richards

4) I Was Dancing At The Lesbian Bar

5) Bohemia
6) Le Printemps Des Amoureux Est Venu

7) The Honeymoon Is Over/ Give Paris One More Chance

8) That Summer Feeling

9) I Took A Chance On Her

10) A Que Vinimos Sino A Caer

11) When We Refuse To Suffer

12) I'm In A Dancing Mood/ 007 (Shanty Town)

13) The Old World

14) La Festa E Galactica


Jonathan Richman...having a dance at The Mint in Los Angeles via dorinda_roberts


Everyone have a great holiday and a wonderful New Year. Dance a lot, be safe, and smart, and take care.

Thursday, October 17

Guest post from Ramon, author of the "Jonathan Richman Chords" website!

Hello Everyone,
Ramon, who maintains the simply awesome "Jonathan Richman Chords Site" webpage sent me this personal story so it could be posted here on the blog.
It's interesting to read these kind of stories as Jonathan isn't the easiest artist to find out about and it can take years to traverse his catalog! I've often wondered what path other fans have taken in their discovery of JR.
If anyone else has any cool Jonathan stories send 'em and we'll post 'em!
Here goes...

There hasn't been that much activity on the blog and it's been 15 years since I started my website, so I thought I would send in this note …

I first heard Jonathan while visiting my brother back in 1991. I was at his place for a few days and he told me I should really listen to this cd and he put in the "Modern Lovers Live." From the first chords of "I'm a Little Airplane" I was interested but when I heard "Ice Cream Man" I was hooked. Somehow the cd ended up with me after the visit (don't worry, I returned it later) and I became a life long fan.

Slowly I heard more and more as I bought what I could find of his work. Ok, I became somewhat obsessed. One could still find many of his CDs and records then in local record stores (it has been a while since I have perused local stores, maybe one can still find them). All of it I loved. Well, perhaps not all. My brother warned me that Jonathan's earlier work was quite different and while I avoided the earlier stuff for a long time, my obsession eventually drew me to buying those cds. I know I'm in the minority here but I found it hard to listen to and I to this day have trouble understanding its popularity.

But the idea of a hard rock punk artist turning his back on his band and moving into a completely different style, almost childlike in its innocence, was intriguing to me. The stubbornness and determination he had to completely change his direction, often against the will of the audience who came to his shows, was frankly inspiring. I normally have little patience for simple songs that children would like, but I've never grown tired of "I'm a little Dinosaur" or "Chewing Gum Wrapper" even after all this time. Part of the reason has to be that underneath the simplicity of the songs is the hard choice that Jonathan made; the songs, though often simple, have a layer of seriousness and complexity under the surface. Well that and the songs are simply great (and often beautiful, "Springtime" still brings tears to my eyes).

A few years later (sometime in the spring of 1998) I became a part the leadership of a church group for children in grades three to six. We would do different fun activities, about once a week, such as movie nights, visits to various local sites etc. I was asked to lead an evening with the kids and I said I would do a performance for them. Since I was still obsessed with Jonathan's music and since it seemed entirely appropriate for children, the performance was going to be entirely of Jonathan Richman songs.

I had a guitar but I was (and still am) a rank beginner at playing so I knew I needed help. Two of my best friends played guitar and were willing to assist, so for a couple of weeks before the performance we transcribed and practiced a bunch of Jonathan's songs. I looked online for help with how to play the songs but I found almost nothing. So we had to do it ourselves. I don't remember the exact playlist but it was a selection from "Modern Lovers Live" and "Back in your Life." The performance was fun (I was the dinosaur) and the only performance ever in which I played a prominent role.

After it was over I had all these transcriptions of lyrics and chords and I wasn't sure what to do with them. I couldn't find much help when I wanted to know how to play the songs so I figured others could use some help. So in October of 1998 I started the website. Initially I was just going to post what we had done but people (from the old mailing list) sent in more versions and I kept finding more cds to buy so the site kept expanding.

For three years I worked at lyrics and chords for all the cds I had. I knew I wasn't a good guitar player but I figured I would give people a start. My goal was to post the lyrics and at least one version of chords for every Jonathan song out there. But every time I thought I was getting close to done, I would find another cd I didn't already have or people would send me bootlegs. Sometime at the end of 2001 I ran out of some enthusiasm for the project partly because I had done all the chords I knew how to do and because the large number of bootlegs I had left to transcribe (and because I started to get obsessed with Tom Waits).

I left it for a couple of years and only started to work again on the website in 2004. The Castle reissues of the earlier material got me interested again so I started once more working on the lyrics. I have done little work myself on the chords for the songs since 2001 since I don't have the skill. Almost everything since then has been lyric transcriptions. But I stopped again in 2006, again running low on enthusiasm.

I only really picked it up again last year. I don't know exactly why I lose enthusiasm for the work at times. I often have trouble believing people still find the site useful (and closely listening to dozens of versions of songs can get tedious). But many people have sent me notes of thanks and appreciation over the years (not to mention the many contributions of chords and foreign language translations). Still I am not sure people need 26 lyric versions of Ice Cream Man or not. But perhaps they do.

What keeps me doing this? Part of it is that no one else is. But that isn't enough. The real reason is that Jonathan's music is so compelling. And often it takes more than one listen to appreciate. I haven't always been a great fan of his more recent material but the more I listen to it, the more it grows on me. And of course he is such a wonderful live performer. I have only heard him live twice, both were memorable, and listening to so many bootlegs it feels like I heard him live many times.

I am determined to do lyric transcriptions to all I have (which is about 50 more bootlegs than I currently have listed on the site). But at the rate he performs live I know I'll never catch up.

Wednesday, October 16

Late 1979 Gold Star Demos

Hello Everyone, Blog's been pretty quiet lately...thought I would share another super rare (but super awesome!) rare recording. If you haven't heard the 1979 Gold Star Demo's you are probably about to hear a side of Jojo that will be new to you! It's only a couple songs, but it's fascinating. Check this out: Gold Star Demos Does anyone have any info about this recording? Lots of mystery surrounding it...

Thursday, May 16

Happy Birthday Jonathan Richman! (USA Tour dates too!)

1990 image rb

Walk up the Boston streets with warren loft and the Modern Lovers from 1972!

the MODERN LOVERS "Walk Up The Street" 1972 via warren loft

"Walk Up the Street"

A wonderful 1984 video by Manuel Huerga! Did you catch it last year on Jojoblog? Watch it again! Full screen!

Jonathan Richman TV3 (84) from Icosahedron on Vimeo.

Directed by Manuel Huerga for Televisió de Catalunya TV3.

Jonathan Richman performs in a rousing show with Modern Lovers Brennan Totten and Andy Paley.

1 - Ice Cream Man
2 - This Kind of Music
3 - Wipe Out
4 - I'm a Little Dinosaur

5 - La Bamba
6 - Rockin' Rockin' Leprechauns

7 - The Beach
8 - The UFO Man
9 - Let's Take a Trip
10 - Vincent Van Gogh
11 - Give Paris One More Chance

12 - Chewing Gum Wrapper
13 - That Summer Feeling

USA and Canada tour dates coming up for May and June 2013 courtesy of Les Gripkey!


Also see High Road Touring for these and July/August dates in California!

High Road Touring

Sunday, March 3

Jojo and Lil Bub

Check out our hero's new buddy "Lil Bub":


Saturday, February 23


image: Roger Catlin


Roger Catlin
reviews last night's show at 9:30 Club in Washington DC and provides a set list:

“Because Her Beauty is Raw and Wild”
“No One Was Like Vermeer”
“Let Her Go into the Darkness”
“The World is Showing Its Hand”
“Old World”
“I Was Dancing in the Lesbian Bar”
“Egyptian Reggae”
“Her Mystery Not of High Heels and Eye Shadow”
“Parents Pushing the Stroller While Talking on the Cell Phone”
“Le Printeps Des Amoreux Est Venue”
“These Bodies That Came to Cavort”
“La Festa Magnifica”
“La Fiesta Es Para Todos”
“Everybody Come to the Party” (Hebrew)
“We Had a Fight”

With a timeless boyishness and a disarming humor in his delivery he had the crowd rapt, allowing him to step away from the microphone and fill the room only with his guitar or naked voice if he wanted to. (more)

Thanks Roger!


Friday, February 22

kis-met and chance

Ryan Little at the Washington Post sent Jonathan Richman some questions in advance of his performance tonight at 9:30 Club in Washington DC. He received this handwritten response in rhyming verse addressing Jonathan's thoughts on early songs, and Icelandic musician Ólöf Arnalds:

(click to view larger)

more: Washington Post

Thanks Ryan!


Monday, February 18

people all over the world


1978 show in Netherlands with Leroy, Asa and D Sharpe!


Jonathan Richman And The Modern Lovers - Egyptian reggae & More ( Original Live Special 1978 ) via exclusivevids100

Saturday, February 16

in love with modern moonlight

Jonathan Richman, The Goat Farm, Atlanta, 9 Feb 13, image rb

We didn't get a set list at The Goat Farm in Atlanta but here's one provided by Emmett McAuliffe from the 6 February show at Off Broadway in St. Louis (thanks Emmett!):

Jan Vermeer
Let Her Go into the Darkness
Dancing in the Moonlight (Sanford-Townsend Band)
Higher (Sly Stone)
La Festa Magnifica
La Fiesta Es Para Todos
Everybody Come to the Party (Hebrew)
Because Her Beauty
Egyptian Reggae
Old World (greatly modified from album versions)

We Had a Fight
Sa Voix M'Attise
Keith Richards
Her Mystery Not of High Heels
O Moon Queen of Night on Earth
These Bodies That Came to Cavort
When We Refuse
Unknown encore a capella verse

Jonathan Richman at The Goat Farm (O Moon, Queen of Night on Earth) via Gary Hasty

In The Rodriguez Room at The Goat Farm we noticed the conspicuous lack of I Was Dancing in the Lesbian Bar and the welcome addition of Van Morrison's Crazy Love. The songs were all sung in English for the first time ever that I can remember. O Moon, Queen of Night on Earth (as in the video above by Gary Hasty), and When We Refuse to Suffer had prolonged poetic introductions with the former a beautiful heartfelt invocation and the latter a haunted evocation of setting, making some people uncomfortable (but not in a bad way).

Little more Jonathan Richman at The Goat Farm (Egyptian Reggae) via Gary Hasty

As usual, gender demographics favored men. Everyone had a good time. To the nice people at The Goat Farm: You have a great facility with a lot of character but it's not accessible to the mobility challenged. However for such a labyrinthine rustic compound, everything was smooth, polished and mellow, and filled with lovely good vibes. I was unable to attend the second night, when it rained, so I don't know how that one went.

Jonathan Richman, The Goat Farm, Atlanta, 9 Feb 13, image rb

In other news, there's a movement afoot to make Roadrunner the official state rock song of Massachusetts. Joyce Linehan petitioned the state legislature via Representative Marty Walsh, who filed HD3506 "An Act designating the song 'Roadrunner' as the official rock song of the Commonwealth." You can read more about it here:

15 reasons why Roadrunner by Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers will become the official rock song of Massachusetts in 2013

and also here:

Wicked Pissah: The Bid to Make the Modern Lovers' "Roadrunner" the Rock Song of Massachusetts is Official

Monday, February 11

ongoing tour dates early 2013


If you're nearby these neighborhoods go see Jonathan Richman and Tommy Larkins perform live if you can! Smaller houses are selling out, so look into getting early tickets. As always, check with venues ahead of time before making travel plans since things can and do change. Brush up on your Sam Cooke so you can singalong the ooogh! aaagh! if he decides to cover 'Chain Gang'! Loosen up to 'Dancing in the Moonlight' and prepare to be charmed...