A rerun today: Last night Laura and I saw Jonathan Richman perform with longtime drummer Tommy Larkins at the Cedar Cultural Center. We had a ton of fun, which is what’s supposed to happen at a Jonathan Richman show – hd was in especially good form and I don’t think there a single disappointed person in the crowd.
Here’s a post from last year about some of my favorite Jonathan Richman songs:
Jonathan Richman is one of my favorites, and also one of Laura’s least favorites, so I listen to his great records on the days when she’s in the shop.
How awesome is Jonathan Richman? I was at a show where women threw flowers on the stage. He wrote “Roadrunner” and was a punk rocker before there were even punk rockers, he even got bored with punk before anyone else. He was already post-punk before there was punk to be post- to. He played mini-golf with Gram Parsons the day before the Grievous Angel overdoesed. He dodged a bullet in a Farrely Brothers movie. That’s how awesome Jonathan Richman is.
And he could rhyme better than anyone else. For instance…
In the park, near the dark
What do I now hear, hark hark
- “Rockin’ Rockin’ Leprechauns”
If you listen to all your Jonathan albums back-to-back, Rock n Roll with the Modern Lovers has got to be the silliest – in fact, “Rockin’ Rockin’ Leprechaun is nowhere near the silliest song, although it is the only one that contains the word “hark”. I think it’s the only song I own on any non-Christmas record that contains the word “hark”.
Elsewhere on the album Jonathan extols his “Dodge Veg-o-Matic” and actually, seriously, sings “The Wheels on the Bus”.
I’ve been all over the world but I love New England best
I might be prejudiced.
- “New England”
I feel the same way about Minnesota, but I just don’t think I could express it so poetically.
They’ve tried to set him up with Tiffany and Indigo
But there’s something about Mary that they don’t know
- “There’s Something About Mary”
It’s kind of hard to imagine which came first, the title to the Farrely Brothers’ 1998 comedy or the chorus to Jonathan’s song. In the film he and drummer Tommy Larkins perform together in the tradition of a Greek chorus, appearing alongside the actors and commenting on the story through song.
The question is, who the hell is named Indigo? That’s not a real name, that’s a stripper name.
Well I walked past just like I say
And I felt this hurt that would not go home
I can’t expect that you’re gonna see it my way
But you may not know the trees I’ve known
- “Corner Store”
Is it just me, or does he laugh at his own rhyming in the middle of the second verse of “Corner Store” (which, incidentally, has got to be Jonathan’s only “message song”)? It’s not that unusual for Jonathan to laugh in the middle of a verse, and I think in this case what’s funny is that the line would have been better finished “a hurt that would not go away” which of course would rhyme with the wrong line. He has to sing something different to retain the ABAB structure of the song – In fact, Jonathan’s steadfast reliance on formal song structure is what leads him to invent the sort of goofy rhymes we have grown to love. But never was it as magical as in this last song…
Abdul’s not seen Cleopatra
It’s been almost now a year
How I wonder where she’s at-ra
And I wish the old girl were here
- “Abdul and Cleopatra”
Actually, out of the hundreds of records I own this is the best rhyme, period. The only thing more awesome than rhyming “at-ra” with Cleopatra is doing it three times. And doing it in the first line of the first song on the record.