I, Jonathan is the fourth album by Jonathan Richman. The truth is that I haven’t been listening to him for 15 years or anything, hell by the time I post this I won’t even have been listening to him for 15 hours! But that doesn’t mean I can’t tell you about how fantastic this album is and give you a little background on Jonathan Richman.
Richman was a member of one of the most influential bands of the 70’s, The Modern Lovers. Their garage rock sound has gone on to impact indie, alternative, punk and new wave music, with two of their members also moving onto The Cars and Talking Heads. Together, The Modern Lovers released just one album in 1976 aptly titled The Modern Lovers. I might actually review that soon too!
I, Jonathan is full of tracks that tell simple stories. One for example is about how he found a lesbian bar that was far more wild than the club he was in a few hours earlier. He uses dancing to show the difference between the two places, describing the people he meets and how much more free the lesbian bar is. Another song is about an apartment he rented in Venice beach and what the area was like, while the first track is just about “Parties In The U.S.A”. It’s mostly soft, easy going guitar that has its roots buried in indie, so if that’s your genre, you have to check the album out.
These storytelling records, much like Mount Eerie’s heartbreaking, A Crow Looked At Me or anything by John Grant, are excellent because they’re accessible and sincere. You don’t have to put the song on repeat to try to understand it, or look up lyrics to decipher the meaning. They’re just right there in front of you and you can almost put yourself in the artist’s shoes. Going by this record, Jonathan’s shoes seem like they would be a fun pair to walk in!
Oh, a little bit of trivia for ya. Jonathan Richman wrote and performed the theme song to There’s Something About Mary, even starring in the film. True story.
Photo credit: discogs.com