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Jonathan Richman - Now Is Better Than Before
March 2, 2008 12:18 PM   Subscribe

Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers - I'm A Little Dinosaur
Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers - New England
Jonathan Richman - Now Is Better Than Before
Spring is in the air today and here are a few slices of vintage Jonathan just because...

Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers - I'm Just Beginning To Live

And regarding Now Is Better Than Before and I'm Just Beginning To Live...

--I am y2karl and I endorse these concepts.


posted by y2karl (45 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite

 
I got the radio on... This is great stuff. Thanks!
posted by Guy_Inamonkeysuit at 12:24 PM on March 2, 2008


I wish that I could find the Sesame Street clip that featured "I'm A Little Airplane."
posted by freshwater_pr0n at 12:27 PM on March 2, 2008


Jonathan Richman is playing here in Madison in a few weeks. I mentioned the show to a twenty-something hipster acquantance of mine, who responded "Who's Jonathan Richman?" I tried three more hipsters and got the same response three times. What's going on? It's not just time: all these people know who the Velvet Underground were. They know who the Stooges and the MC5 were. I'll bet most of them know who Nick Drake was. But not Jonathan Richman? For shame. To the extent that Jonathan and I share a lawn, I order those kids to abandon it.
posted by escabeche at 12:30 PM on March 2, 2008 [2 favorites]


Martin Noble and Neil Wilkinson from British Sea Power have teamed up with Darren Moon from the Tenderfoot and Matt Eaton from Actress Hands (all Brighton bands) to form an ad-hoc Modern Lovers tribute band, the Modern Ovens. You can see some footage of their (so far, one and only) gig on t'Tube of You.
posted by Devonian at 12:32 PM on March 2, 2008


I saw Mr Richman here in TLH years ago. Small show, but he was nice as hell and sort of hung out afterwards with all us crazy kids.
posted by grubi at 12:32 PM on March 2, 2008


I saw Mr Richman here in TLH years ago. Small show, but he was nice as hell and sort of hung out afterwards with all us crazy kids.

I concur. I saw him at the Starry Plough in Berkeley. He's definitely friendly without any outsized rock star ego.
posted by jonp72 at 12:35 PM on March 2, 2008


Yes, he is teh awesome.
posted by shothotbot at 12:40 PM on March 2, 2008


I saw him at the Arts Club in Vancouver oh about 15 years ago? He put on a good show but at the time he just seemed a little too happy for my type of angst. as I have grown up I kept his CDs and appreciate his music more. Indeed, is he is "Now Better Than Before."
posted by seawallrunner at 12:44 PM on March 2, 2008


There's something about Jonathan Richman
posted by pwally at 1:13 PM on March 2, 2008


A lot of people seem to be put off by his innocent-lovable-schlub persona (mostly YFBSists), but I just like his delivery very much. You really feel like he's opening the door and letting you in, and it's a comfy, messy, lived-in place. Thanks!
posted by not_on_display at 1:14 PM on March 2, 2008


I really love Richman and especially New England. I had never seen the video, thanks for sharing.
posted by allen.spaulding at 1:15 PM on March 2, 2008


wangity wang wangity wang
I'm a little airplane now!
posted by kuujjuarapik at 1:23 PM on March 2, 2008


He quieted a packed King Tut's in Glasgow by turning all the amps off and singing a cappella.
posted by scruss at 1:27 PM on March 2, 2008


Best I could do, but still an awesome song: Ice Cream Man
posted by hifiparasol at 1:49 PM on March 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


I love JR—thanks for the post!

*misses jonmc*
posted by languagehat at 1:59 PM on March 2, 2008


escabeche - just tell them he was the guy up in the tree in There's Something About Mary.

Don't feel so old ... I got the radio on ...
posted by yhbc at 2:08 PM on March 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


he was nice as hell

Jonathon takes a bullet for Ben.
posted by CynicalKnight at 2:15 PM on March 2, 2008




Gimme a "D," Maestro.
posted by ibmcginty at 2:25 PM on March 2, 2008


He is a super nice guy and I do love his music so. My wife wants to be his g-i-r-l-f-r-e-n. Strangely, this makes me like him more.

When Harpo Played His Harp

(the video where he's in some college quad dancing and singing isn't on youtube anymore, which sucks)

Thanks, y2karl.
posted by sleepy pete at 2:29 PM on March 2, 2008


Your world - it is beautiful
I'll take the subway to your suburb sometimes :*(
posted by fire&wings at 2:35 PM on March 2, 2008


I love Jonathan too! Couldn't find 'Dignified and Old', or 'Hospital', or any of my other favourites, but here's: Roadrunner (some non-album version, with an interesting video). Ah here's the album cut.
posted by Flashman at 2:35 PM on March 2, 2008


Possibly the single best show I have ever been to was Richman playing an incredibly tiny club in Kensington Market in Toronto in 1989. It started off well with The Flying Bulgar Klezmer Band getting everyone dancing, then Richman came out and killed in all his geeky awesomosity. I had never seen such an exchange of love and energy between an audience and a performer before. I commented to my friends as we were leaving that I had no idea that the man had such an ego -- and he was preening and showing off his guns as he played, smiling delightedly now and then as he got girls squealing -- meaning it as a complete compliment, but I was in the minority on that one.

(On preview: grubi, jonp72, I absolutely believe that when Jonathan hung out with you guys, he was gracious and showed no trace of arrogance. I meant ego as in outsized confidence and verve, and this man has it in spades.)
posted by maudlin at 2:46 PM on March 2, 2008


Please don't let me end up like Jonathan Richman(?)
posted by alexei at 2:55 PM on March 2, 2008


Although I was familiar with the Modern Lovers oeuvre, particularly the perennials "Roadrunner" and "Pablo Picasso," I had never heard JR's solo music until I saw him open for Belle & Sebastian at the (Portland, OR) Roseland on 9/11/01. The show was packed and everyone was, shall I say, a little frail considering the events of the day. Jonathan came out, said that he loved everyone in the room and then performed "Springtime In New York." It was the first beautiful, cathartic moment of an evening filled with them. I've been a devotee since.

A couple of years later I was invited to a Seder at the last minute only to discover Jonathan Richman among the guests. He was the cousin of our host and proved as nice and sincere in person as he is on stage. The conversation was lively and Jonathan had some excellent insights on the Israel-Palestine situation - a class act all around.
posted by joseph_elmhurst at 3:10 PM on March 2, 2008


Pablo Picasso is an asshole.

Jonathan Richman is a liar.
posted by Sys Rq at 3:11 PM on March 2, 2008


Well, what can you say about Vincent Van Gogh?
posted by Flashman at 3:18 PM on March 2, 2008




OK, just one more, then I go back to work.
posted by maudlin at 3:35 PM on March 2, 2008


Just a few days ago he performed at the local dive I frequent just a couple of blocks from my house. It's a tiny little bar, but he makes a point to come in every couple of years because he is friends with the bass player in one of my bands who played on and produced one of his albums (Jonathan Goes Country).

It's always an intimate little show, just a few dozen people, and he takes a lot of requests AND I MISSED HIM THIS TIME BECAUSE I HAD THE FREAKIN' FLU! Suck.

BTW: His current thing is no smoking in the venue while he is there.
posted by sourwookie at 3:50 PM on March 2, 2008


Introduced by Ivor Cutler too, on that "I'm a Little Dinosaur" clip, if I'm not mistaken.
posted by GeckoDundee at 3:51 PM on March 2, 2008


Why do I keep thinking ... Tiny Tim reincarnated???
posted by Surfurrus at 4:13 PM on March 2, 2008


I don't know, because that's like apples and oranges.

Your favorite man-child singer sucks.
posted by joseph_elmhurst at 4:38 PM on March 2, 2008


I saw him when he opened for John Waters in Santa Cruz a few years ago. He stole the show, for us anyway, even given our birthday present VIP tickets. I couldn't believe no one had ever told me how great this guy was. And afterward I had a sneaking suspicion that he was really the guy in the clown getup who'd been playing accordion in the lobby earlier, hawking Richman CDs. It just seemed like something he would do, although I don't actually know if he can play that instrument.
posted by christopherious at 4:49 PM on March 2, 2008


I am R. Mutt, and I endorse this post too.
posted by R. Mutt at 5:04 PM on March 2, 2008


"Dancing in the Lesbian Bar"
posted by waitingtoderail at 5:38 PM on March 2, 2008


I have seen him over a dozen over as many years and it's always the same with his shows--he comes out about a half hour after the last encore and talks to whoever is there. I saw him at the King Hotel about ten years ago. He played completely solo and when he was done, the lights came up and people began to leave and he came out and was putting his guitar away and this young woman came up and very tentatively said "Oh, hi, Jonathan, you probably don't remember this but I sent you this tape of Italian pop a couple of months ago and... and he was right there: Oh, wow, you must be Katharine! I love Italian pop and I loved that tape--thank you so much! Man, talk about your customer service.

And, heck, once I traded him a box set of doo wop CDs for a Happy Birthday greetings from himself on the voice mail of my girlfriend of the time and dang, if he didn't leave a real sweet message on her phone the very next day.

I meant ego as in outsized confidence and verve, and this man has it in spades.

He strikes me as being one of the more high functioning, psychologically healthy individuals a person could meet. Bent out of shape by society's pliers, he simply is not. He can fill a room with himself without ever suffocating anyone else. You can be in his dream if he can be in yours. This has been my impression of him over the years.
posted by y2karl at 5:45 PM on March 2, 2008 [2 favorites]


No upcoming Toronto dates, damn it -- but Brooklyn people -- Tuesday -- be there! (And Wednesday, and several other American cities in the weeks to come).

*presses face against glass and whines*
posted by maudlin at 5:55 PM on March 2, 2008


My introduction to Jonathan Richman (and the Modern Lovers) was with his 1977 UK #5 chart entry with Egyptian Reggae. It was one of the first singles I ever bought - I was 10.
posted by kcds at 6:22 PM on March 2, 2008


I absolutely adore Jonathan Richman and have seen him play around 10 times in the last 12 years. His live act has gotten better in the last few years, as he's added more songs from the original Modern Lovers era. The last time he came through town, my girlfriend and I showed up at 9:45 - plenty early for pretty much any headlining act - and found ourselves arriving in the middle of the last song of his set. Very disappointing.

The morning after one of his shows in Austin a number of years ago, I ran into him at a great macrobiotic breakfast spot. He was leaving as we were entering, and my then-girlfriend shot him a "hey, great show last night, Jonathan!". He responded with a huge smile and "hey, thanks" in his inimitably thick Massachusetts accent. Our breakfast was delicious.

I've heard conflicting reports as to his niceness, though. An old friend of mine interviewed him for his radio show years ago. Beforehand, Richman's manager had forwarded a list of questions that were not to be asked. He'd made it clear that questions about the Modern Lovers, his personal life, politics, and a slew of other subjects were off limits. My friend complied at first and tried talking about his new music, but made the mistake of saying the words "Modern Lovers" somewhere in his line of questioning. Richman, who had already beed fairly unfriendly during the interview, turned stone cold. He wouldn't talk and just sat staring my friend down, which doesn't translate very well over the radio. My friend tried his best to regain control of the interview and failed. I wish I could remember more details, as Richman came off as an ass to end all asses. I used to have a tape of the thing - it's a horribly cringeworthy affair. My friend just chalked it off as a fine example of having to separate an artist's personality from his art.

The only book written about Richman to date, the unfortunately titled There's Something About Jonathan, is pretty worthless. He refused to be interviewed for the book and the author spends several hundred pages basically kissing Richman's ass. It's worth reading for the Modern Lovers-era chapters, though. There are some great stories from the other members of the band about playing with the New York Dolls, dead groupies, and Richman's gradual descent into his own little world. The author treats the story of Richman's obsession over a married woman and his eventual breaking up of her marriage with an annoyingly twee tone, much as he does with other examples of his odd and bad behavior. Even though I chose to separate the artist from the art, I would love to read a more in-depth report of the weirdness going on in his life as he was singing children's songs marketed at adults.
posted by item at 9:35 PM on March 2, 2008


i'm a little late to this post, but i'm so glad you posted something on Richman because it gives me a chance to post my friend Mimi's cover of Richman's song Hospital. Personally, I think it's hauntingly beautiful.
posted by pelican at 11:23 PM on March 2, 2008


I am loving this post and this thread. Yay for Jonathan and yay also for y2karl! Heck, yay for you all!

*wipes away tiny tear of happiness.*
posted by tiny crocodile at 2:12 AM on March 3, 2008


And yes, he really was that sweet. (In case anyone's still wondering.)
posted by grubi at 5:28 AM on March 3, 2008


Your favorite man-child singer sucks.
posted by joseph_elmhurst


Who's favorite man-child singer? Are you speaking of Tiny Tim or Johathan? LOL. A hype is a hype by any other name. (In ten years Jonny will be making the late-late-late nite tv shows as an 'oddity'.)

(I guess the 'sweetness' of the man-child singer is not shared with his man-child fans?)
posted by Surfurrus at 8:36 AM on March 3, 2008


Fee free to embrace or kick any man-child singer you like, Surfurrus, but calling Richman a hype is ridiculous. His work with The Modern Lovers alone -- one album! -- inspired a host of musicians. That level of influence is not just hype.
posted by maudlin at 9:01 AM on March 3, 2008


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