Tell me about Jonathan Richman

Hello all,

I have a chance to go with friends to see Jonathan Richman perform on Wednesday night, but I have to admit, I know next to nothing about the guy’s music, only that he was the troubadour in There’s Something About Mary. I probably won’t have another chance to go to a concert for a while (and I’ll be missing Rilo Kiley, Reel Big Fish, Weezer, and probably Reverend Horton Heat as well over the next two months), so will this be a good show? What does he sound like usually, and who, if anyone, could you compare him to?

Jonathon Richmond is one of the original New York City New Wave guys. His band The Modern Lovers were contemporaries and peers of such bands as The Ramones, Blondie, Television, The New York Dolls, etc.

I did a google search and was surprised at the dearth of websites about him.

Perhaps because you mispelled both his surname and his given name?

Or are you guys talking about two different people?

Same person, I’m pretty sure. I know Richman used to have a band called the Modern Lovers, I just don’t know anything about them or their music. But I’m pretty sure I spelled his name right.

Err…sorry Sean, but I think that discription is going to give Big Bad the wrong idea. yeah, he was all that (and Road Runner is a early punk classic ) But going there expecting anything like the Ramones etc. would be a mistake.

Since he disbanded the Modern Lovers he’s gone very much his own weird way. As, basically, a singer/songwriter, with a prediliction for songs about little insects and icecream sellers. Which some people find unbearably twee and others, charming and weirdly profound (I’m in the latter catagory).

Just go and enjoy, Johnathan’s a lot of fun.

If you have the chance to see him, go! His shows will be a little different than a Weezer or Reel Big Fish show–every time I’ve seen him it’s been just him on acoustic guitar and a drummer (who plays standing up). He’s not going to rock your socks off, but he is probably one of the most entertaining performers I’ve ever seen. One of the few people who I would say you wouldn’t even need to be familiar with his music to enjoy the show.

As far as music goes, the stuff he plays now is very acoustic based (as you can probably tell from the lineup). I’ve manged to draw a blank on comparisons, but really, the songs he sings in There’s Something About Mary are pretty indicative of his sound.

But again, I would say if you like a good show, go see him. He’s coming to my town in a couple of weeks and the tickets were only 10 bucks, so, assuming the prices are similar in your area, you don’t have a lot to lose on the deal.

OK, I think the tickets are only $13. I can’t help but feel “cognitive dissonance” because I’m skipping a bunch of bands I like (due to bad timing of the dates) and going to see someone I’m unfamiliar with, but I’m always up for quirky, fun new music.

I’ve seen Jojo perform a dozen times or so since the mid-80’s. In the early days, he hung with Andy Worhol and Lou Reed and his stuff was proto-punk. His song Pablo Piccaso was on the Repo Man sound track.

For the last twenty years or so, his stuff has been very melodic, quirky folk…or something. He’s unique and a lot of fun. Stop by and say hi to him after the show. He loves talking to fans and is a genuine guy.


Didn’t get a lot of sleep this weekend - that made me mispell nearly everything. Maybe that’s why the Google search didn’t work out as well as I thought it would.

Of course he’s doing different stuff now, and his original body of work isn’t like the Ramones or the Dolls, but he was there at the beginning right along with them. I’m just saying that he’s done more important things in his career than being in a Farrelly Brothers movie. I’d love to go see him, even at this stage of the game. I’ve heard the same things about him that hajario mentioned from people who’ve seen him in the last ten years or so.

Well now I’m definitely going to the concert! I called my favorite college radio station while commuting back home this evening, and won two tickets to the show! Very cool. I’ve never won a radio contest before, or even managed to make it through when I tried to call. Now I’m on Jonathan Richman’s guest list!

(Now I wish I could win tickets to see Tom Waits in some exotic, faraway locale, complete with travel and hotel expenses, but beggars can’t be choosers.)

I had my say on the subject a few months ago:

I’m incredibly jealous that you’re getting free tickets.

We seem to have had quite a few threads by posters looking to become acquainted with Jonathan Richman in the past couple of months. Check them out here and here.

Jonathan Richman is a bit of a rock icon, especially with his original Modern Lovers lineup. I would put him in the same general category of rockers as Lou Reed and the Velvet Underground, except unabashedly and unironically straight edge in his lyrics. His approach is minimalist with street/beat poetry type lyrics. I’m not very familiar with his solo work, but that original Modern Lovers disc is a classic, and definitely makes my all time Top 100.

It gets better and better. I have to take a paid “personal holiday” from my job on one day in June, or I lose the day. I will take it this Thursday so I can go to Richman’s concert, have fun, maybe have a couple drinks, and not worry about having to wake up early the next morning. Should work out just fine!

Lou How was the show? Did ya get to meet him?

Little-known trivia:

Jonathan Richman played miniature golf with Gram Parsons the day before he died.

GREAT show. I told you I didn’t know much of his work at all beforehand, but I left a big fan. My friend I went with was a huge fan, and had wanted to see him live for the last ten years, so she was in seventh heaven. I managed to grab Jonathan at the intermission, shook his hand, and got him to stand still long enough to pose for a digital picture with my friend, for which he was very polite and she was eternally grateful.

He was so funny and charming and ultra-cool, never taking himself too seriously and not being afraid to be goofy and have fun on stage. He sang a lot in French, Spanish, and Italian, told stories and jokes between songs, and danced a lot, doing his cool little guitar-spins. Drummer Tommy Larkins was a great straight-man. My friend said he mostly did material from his new album, but there were also some classics like “Give Paris Another Chance” (one of the few songs I knew from before).

I now have the assignment of tracking down one of his rarer CDs, “Jonathan Sings.” We listened to an old dubbed cassette of it in the car on the way to the show, and I loved it. Apparently it’s rare, and possible out-of-print, but my friend desperately wants a copy and I wouldn’t mind it either. That’s the one with the two female backup singers, just a happy, positive, fun album. Great stuff!