The Explanation
(for those who require one)

And, of course, that is what all of this is -- all of this: the one song, ever changing, ever reincarnated, that speaks somehow from and to and for that which is ineffable within us and without us, that is both prayer and deliverance, folly and wisdom, that inspires us to dance or smile or simply to go on, senselessly, incomprehensibly, beatifically, in the face of mortality and the truth that our lives are more ill-writ, ill-rhymed and fleeting than any song, except perhaps those songs -- that song, endlesly reincarnated -- born of that truth, be it the moon and June of that truth, or the wordless blue moan, or the rotgut or the elegant poetry of it. That nameless black-hulled ship of Ulysses, that long black train, that Terraplane, that mystery train, that Rocket '88', that Buick 6 -- same journey, same miracle, same end and endlessness."
-- Nick Tosches, Where Dead Voices Gather

The Age of Innocence #4

The Modern Lovers (1970)

Years before he wrote songs about Roller Coasters By the Sea and Riding His Bike Past the Root Beer Stand, Jonathan Richman, through a mere handful of recordings in the early 1970s, established himself forever as the chronicler of bruised and triumphant adolescence. With his band, The Modern Lovers, he forged a Velvet Underground inspired rock, both wild and tender at once, that directly anticipated the damaged sensitivity at the heart of all Punk.


swac said...

Even though Richman's early work is primal and great, I'm still pretty fond of what he's done later in life. He's had one of the best track records in rock, and whether he's giving Paris one more chance or dancing in the lesbian bar, I can always find time in my life for more Jonathan.

Tom Sutpen said...

I truly love some of what Richman did after 1976 when he revamped his career (three LPs I particularly like are "Rock'n'Roll With The Modern Lovers", "Back in Your Life" and "Modern Lovers '88"), but a lot of it doesn't have the emotional pull for me that songs like "Hospital" and "She Cracked" and the original "Fly Into the Mystery" have.

In many ways his is the work of two different artists. I just happen to love the first Jonathan more than the second.