Tag Archives: discovering a band thirty years after their breakup

I’m certainly not stoned, like hippie Johnny

Call me overly sensitive or sentimental or what-have-you –– I believe we’ve tested pretty strongly the thesis that Rachel and I have a lot of feelings –– but tonight at a stoplight, when I was driving home, there was a moment of perfect synchronicity between me and the car and the snow and the stereo that was like, this is it. This is what it’s like to be alive. It was a very Jason Anderson, “we’re all here right now in the heart of the music” sort of thing, except I was the only one present. (I may call my car “Maxwell” and refer to him in gendered pronouns but I am still aware that Maxwell is not an actual person.)

The song was by Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers, a band who trounced any attempts of mine to coin a band title before I was even born. The Heist? Lord Byrona? Two Ships in an Elevator? None of them sounds as perfect as “The Modern Lovers” (or even “Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers”). But then, as I haven’t really played an instrument since fifth-grade flute, none of my theoretical music would touch Jonathan Richman’s either.

For the curious, here’s a song: Roadrunner. It’s considered the first real punk song, the introduction of the three-chord standard. Non-punk fans, have a listen of I’m Straight, a paean to the awkward “let’s date” voicemail message. (“I’m straight –– and I want to –– take his place!”) It’s a cute song… but let’s get serious, kids. From the gawky, giddy, geekiness of his lyrics it sounds like Jonathan Richman is yet another man in his fifties that I find myself relating to on a deep personal level. This makes number four or maybe five. Demographically speaking, what is up with that?

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