Author Topic: Roadrunner Roadrunner! the Jonathan Richman thread  (Read 3809 times)

Marty McFly

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Roadrunner Roadrunner! the Jonathan Richman thread
« on: November 15, 2009, 02:28:47 PM »
Inspired by the recent mentions of him in the celebrity deaths you'd be most upset about thread, I thought a thread dedicated to the great man would be a good one..



I first heard of Jonathan Richman when I saw the Farrelly brothers' film, Kingpin. Probably their most underrated film IMO, it features a killer performance by Bill Murray, and a cameo by Mr Richman, who plays himself, singing in a country bar alongside his drummer Tommy Larkins. (In the next Farrellys film, There's Something About Mary, they had a bigger starring role as a Greek chorus, and that now seems to be the place where most folks know of Jonathan.)

But, for me, it all started with Kingpin and the two songs he performs in that film, "That Summer Feeling" and "Corner Store". Being a skint student at the time, and liking those songs as well of the rest of the music in the film, I immediately went online and started downloading the songs that made up the soundtrack. When I found That Summer Feeling, I was an instant convert.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x_jRDVStzOY

Sometimes, you just find the right song at the right moment. This was one of those times.. it was a beautiful summer evening when I downloaded it, I remember that much, and I listened to it over and over again. It encapsulates all the wonderful things about childhood, innocence, and knowing that you can look forward but never go back. As I'd later discover these are themes that run through much of Jonathan's work.

Quote
That summer feeling
That summer feeling
That summer feeling

When there's things to do not because you gotta
When you run for love not because you oughtta
When you trust your friends with no reason notta
This joy I've named shall not be tamed
That summer feeling is gonna haunt you
The rest of your life.

When the cool of the pond makes you drop down on it
When the smell of the lawn makes you flop down on it
When the teenage car gets the cop down on it
That time is here for one more year
That summer feeling's gonna haunt you
The rest of your life.

If you've forgotten what I'm naming
You're gonna long to reclaim it one day
You see that summer feeling is gonna haunt you
The rest of your life.

But if you wait until you're older
A sad resentment will smoulder one day
And then the summer feeling will come haunt you
And that summer feeling will come taunt you
That summer feeling will hurt you
Later in your life.

When the playground that just was all dirt
Comes hauntin'
And someone who called you a flirt
Comes tauntin'
It's not that these things alone
Were appealing
What I'm now revealing is a certain feeling
That summer feeling is gonna haunt you
The rest of your life.

When the Oldsmobile has got the top down on it
When the catamaran has got the drop down on it
When the flat of the land has got the crop down on it
What I now proclaim is sorta hard to name
But that summer feeling is gonna haunt you
The rest of your life.

When even fourth grade starts looking good
Which you hated,
And first grade's looking good too,
Overrated,
And you boys long for some little girl
That you dated
Do you long for her or for the way you were?
That summer feeling is gonna haunt you
The rest of your life.

It's gonna haunt you
It's gonna taunt you

My god, all this and I've only talked about one song!

That was just the start of my Jonathan obsession, slowly I found all his albums, and the Modern Lovers album, and many many live recordings. There are four distinct stages of Jonathan: the early punk stuff (Modern Lovers LP), the childlike whimsical years (as Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers), the slightly-more-serious-but-still-fun solo years, and, the most recent phase, his last half a dozen or so records, where he seems to be on a mostly serious, less-playful kick.

I find it interesting that over the years his music has developed and lost some of its humour, but that doesn't make it any less listenable, it just requires a different mindset to enjoy it. I can put on any of the older songs and cheer up instantly, but to listen to the later work (especially his last album), I have to be in the right kind of mood for it.

I went to see him live at the Junction in Cambridge a few years back, and it was an incredible performance, just Jonathan with a nylon-stringed guitar and Tommy on the drums. I was mesmerised by his guitar playing, his spontaneous dancing, and just the general good nature - and wonderful voice - of the man. There really is nobody like him.

DO YOU LIKE JONATHAN RICHMAN? YOU SHOULD!

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Re: Roadrunner Roadrunner! the Jonathan Richman thread
« Reply #1 on: November 15, 2009, 04:21:58 PM »
I love Jonathan Richman's music, and first heard of him after reading an interview with Jerry Harrisson, who had briefly been a Modern Lover before becoming a Talking Head. The first album (considered proto-punk by some) gets the acclaim, but it's his later (softer) work that I love the most. Egyptian Reggae is an all time classic instrumental and Velvet Underground one of the best tribute songs I have heard. He is a warm, totally sincere artist, never sneery - I Went Dancing At The Lesbian Bar could only have been written by him... Why isn't it a lesbian anthem?

Songs titled Rockin' Leprechauns tend to put me off any artist, but Richman makes the track into a work of art. One of his best moments has to be the live version of Ice Cream Man (ding ding) where he has to play five encores to the audience, before letting him continue his set. It never fails to make me smile and feel, ever so briefly, better about the world.

vrailaine

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Re: Roadrunner Roadrunner! the Jonathan Richman thread
« Reply #2 on: November 15, 2009, 05:32:26 PM »
I love him right up to I, Jonathan, have absolutely nothing of his after that.

Someone told me a while back that he's actually a bit of a prick in reality, but gave me no reasoning as to why. Anyone able to tell me where they might've got that idea?

Marty McFly

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Re: Roadrunner Roadrunner! the Jonathan Richman thread
« Reply #3 on: November 15, 2009, 06:21:24 PM »
Possibly because he insists on things like having the air conditioning turned off at gigs, or being totally silent in between gigs to rest his voice? I've read many things that refer to him as eccentric or odd but never a prick.

There's lots of links and things on the JoJo files blog: http://jojofiles.blogspot.com
This story alone, though, makes me think that he really is the furthest thing possible from a prick:

Quote
I have a cool story from this week that has pretty much made my day, week, year. I went to see Jonathan in Manchester on Sunday night... The gig was fantastic fun as I expected, but the day after I was waiting for my train back to Leeds when Jonathan and Tommy came up to the same station! I shook his hand and said what a great time I had an he was really courteous. Then we walked to the platform on the train and he actually came and found me at the opposite end of the carriage and said there's a seat next to him if I wanted to join him. Amazing! An hour in the company of the great man. Talking about Neil Young, new music (he really loves TV On The Radio), his part time stone-masonry, his past records (we agreed to disagree on Jonathan Sings, he hated it), his touring style, the French language and travelling. Just an amazingly down to earth inspiring fella. He also put me plus 3 friends on the guestlist for the gig in Leeds last night which was brilliant of him. I won't be forgetting it in a hurry. Hero!

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Re: Roadrunner Roadrunner! the Jonathan Richman thread
« Reply #4 on: November 16, 2009, 12:45:34 PM »
Someone told me a while back that he's actually a bit of a prick in reality, but gave me no reasoning as to why. Anyone able to tell me where they might've got that idea?

I chatted to him once for around half an hour, and he was as charming and friendly as could be. So that settles that.

Re: Roadrunner Roadrunner! the Jonathan Richman thread
« Reply #5 on: November 19, 2009, 10:47:41 PM »
Something had to be done about the lack of vintage Richman footage on Youtube, so I dug this out of the VHS mountain:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w5OnYVFr_DA

Re: Roadrunner Roadrunner! the Jonathan Richman thread
« Reply #6 on: October 22, 2017, 12:35:52 PM »
I'm bumping this because I need somewhere to express my love for this wonderful man. Does he have the most joyous voice in rock? PaulTMA's link above from eight years ago contains probably my favourite song of his, I'm Just Beginning To Live. Just BURSTING with happiness.

I've never seen him live unfortunately. I did have the chance about eight or nine years ago when he played Ireland but I passed up the chance to see him to go drinking with some acquaintances. Regret it big time but then again I didn't know Jonathan that well then besides a few songs. I'm considering saving up for a trip to New York or somewhere in the States to see him next year. He's one of the few musicians I like that my girlfriend likes as well so she's well up for it. I believe one Sunday morning we were bored so I stuck on I Was Dancing In A Lesbian Bar and that Ice Cream Man video and she was just smitten with his dancing and goofiness.

Anyone a fan of his recent album Ishkode! Ishkode!? Some brilliantly catchy songs on there and it's a bit less serious than some of his more sombre albums of the past decade or so.