Anyone familiar with ''Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers''?

I heard a snippet of their song “Ice Cream Man” on a local station, and I remember thinking, “Gawd! That is awful!” But I came across a CD some years later and decided to pick it up. It was, as it was touted, “The Best of. . . .”

Turns out “Ice Cream Man” was one of the least crappy songs. Others included such stuff as “Here Come the Martian Martians” and “Abominable Snoman in the Market.” And there was some other song in which “Picasso” was rhymed with “a$$hole.”

So. . . .

If you’re familiar with the cat, is he really this crappy? Or is his music sorta like “Finnegan’s Wake” and I’m just not getting it?

I’m not a fan myself, but I must say I’ve never heard anyone else call him “crappy.” I think you just have to get into his whole childlike/primitivist vibe.

Hey, “Roadrunner” and “Pablo Picasso” are certifiable Hallmarks of Rock n’ Roll History. “Ohhhhh, the girls would turn the color of an…avocado, when he would drive down their street in his…El Dorado…”

I dunno. Acquired taste, maybe? I’ve always loved Jonathan…can’t cross the border into Maine on I-95 without breaking into a few choruses of “New England.”

I can take or leave some of his later stuff (though I actually like “Ice Cream Man”), but The Modern Lovers is an undeniable prepunk classic. John Cale (of The Velvet Underground) produces, and the band has Jerry Harrison (later of Talking Heads) and David Robinson (later of The Cars). In eleventh grade, that was my album. It doesn’t have a lot of the silliness on his later albums, but it’s still very charming. The first Violent Femmes album is pretty much an update on The Modern Lovers.

The guy I dated in my late high school/early college time loved Jonathan Richman. He used to try to find double-chocolate malteds at the local ice cream stores. The girls working there always gave him funny looks and pointed at the menu when he tried to order one.

I wouldn’t count myself a fan, necessarily, but I’d listen to him. His songs are funky in a primal way, and easy to sing along with. And let’s not forget him in “There’s Something about Mary.”

You’re just not getting it, but that’s okay. Some people don’t like the Velvet Underground, either. The self-titled Modern Lovers disc is a classic in the pantheon of rock and roll history, and, along with VU, one of proto-punk’s finest moments. The album is just an assault of one great song after another, “Roadrunner” (how can you not like this song?), “Astral Plane,” “Pablo Picasso,” “I’m Straight,” “She’s Cracked.” Unbelievable stuff way ahead of its time.

I think he’s one of those that some people love and other people don’t understand at all-- de gustibus etc. I think Tom Waits falls into this group, too. Like, I know that I’m supposed to like Laurie Anderson and Art of Noise and Kate Bush and Nina Hagen. . . but it all makes my hair stand on end. But I do kind of like Jonathan Richman.

OK, upon further review I’d have to say “crappy” was a bit strong. I think it’s not so much the weird songs (a genre that I typically like) but Richman’s voice that must take some getting used to.

Yeah, I could see not falling in love with his voice on first listen. He has that half-singing/half-spoken-word approach to much of his music. But his voice does have a lot of character and it grows on you. I would take a unique, quirky voice with songwriting talent over technically perfect rock vocals any day (the quintessential example, Tom Waitts, already being mentioned.)

Dude, you’re SO not getting it.

Jonathan Richman is a manifestation of the godhead. I nearly peed myself in high school when I finally got my hands on a cut-out cassette copy of Rock ‘n’ Roll with the Modern Lovers. “Dodge Veg-O-Matic” is actually the masterwork on that album, but “Ice Cream Man”, “Rockin’ Rockin’ Leprechaun”, “Roller Coaster by the Sea”, and “Egyptian Reggae” are pretty great as well.

The singular genius of Jonathan Richman is his willingness to admit to emotions, aesthetic preferences, etc. that are generally considered “un-cool” or “square” particularly by the sort of people who listen to off-the-beaten path music. Years before Devo declared that they were “through being cool”, he was creating songs like “Modern World”, “I’m Straight”, “Dignified and Old”, and the seminal “Roadrunner” that sounded like the Velvet Underground or the Stooges but celebrated square, traditional, un-hip things like parents, avoiding drugs, and Stop and Shops – without a shred of irony or “wink-wink, nudge-nudge” knowingness. He’s continued to do the same for the last 35 years(!) or so, and while the music hasn’t sounded nearly so intense and electric in the last 30 since he relocated to the Bay Area in the early 70s, his refusal to give a damn whether you think he’s hip or not hasn’t changed. His songs can be emotionally raw and painful in ways that the most angst-ridden grunge rockers or traditionally sensitive singer-songwriter types haven’t even conceived of, but that’s their strength as well.

I don’t know Richman’s stuff very well, but I love “Vampire Girl”. That song cracks me up!

“Does she cook beans, does she cook rice, does she do ritual sacrifice…”

I love Jojo. I’ve seen him live several times over the last fifteen years.


If you have to explain Jonathan Richman, you don’t understand.
Roadrunner is in the pantheon of great rock songs,
and My Little Kookenhagen will be played at my wedding.

[QUOTE=Earl Snake-Hips Tucker]
And there was some other song in which “Picasso” was rhymed with “a$$hole.”

Pablo Picasso never got called an asshole

Not like you

Alright :stuck_out_tongue:

Have you heard about the artist, Vincent Van Gogh?
He loved color and he let it show.

The Best Painter Since Jan Vermeer!
How can you not like a songwriter like that?

I got to meet Jonathon in a tiny club in a little town in Germany in 1985. My buddy and I were the only Americans in the room and very likely the only ones who’d ever heard of him before or had the slightest idea what he was singing about. He talked to us from the stage and then spent about 10 minutes talking to us outside the club after the show. Very nice, down to earth guy.

I’m pretty sure we saw him again about two weeks later in Amersterdam, but those few days are kind of blurry.

Uh, hello? What’s going on here?

Two months ago when my Spoil Jonathan Richman For Me Thread only got three responses I though to myself, “What a surprise. I really thought there’d be more Jonathan Richman fans at the SDMB.” Now this Thread is up to 14 responses! (plus mine)

Among his solo tunes, I dig that “Vampire Girls” song too, and “Let Her Go.”

And I’m one of those people who doesn’t like Tom Waits or Laurie Anderson, for the record. That is pretentious crap. Richman’s songs are actual art. And unlike Waits, Richman can produce and sustain an actual tone. :wink:


Ooooh, premature submittion. Happens to even the most virile of dopers. :smiley:

I’ve been to two of his concerts and I didn’t know who he was.

So, I decided to get drunk. I had a good time, but remember only Ice Cream Man.

Years later, smaller venue ( if that is possible) got invited and I went. Stayed sober. Don’t really remember much of the concert other than " He was good but meh…".

This post does not help you, i know, but at least I can say I’ve been to A Jonathan Richman concert.

Sorry, bienville for some reason I missed your thread, or else I would have posted, much like I’m doing here. You had just picked up his greatest hits album The Berserkley Years, which I would also highly recommend. I will also vehemently agree all the others in this thread who call his first album, The Modern Lovers, a proto-punk classic.

That said, I have to admit to initially appreciating JR mostly for his ability to annoy my friends…

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.

… used to drive them crazy