Why I Keep Falling In Love with Jonathan Richman Over and Over
I first saw Jonathan Richman play when he was slightly older than I am now. He played a big hollow-body Gibson guitar. He shimmied. He told stories. He dropped to his knees. He picked up a drummer town to town. It wasn’t until late the next day that I realized I hadn’t stopped smiling. I realized I couldn’t remember what he looked like.
Bold and shameless, I hadn’t understood before. Bold and shameless, I was bereft no more.
Needless to say, I was foolishly in fan love and going to see him when I could, with friends who fell in fan love as well. It had been a while, but I went to go see him play this week. I wrote to a friend that he was more stunning than ever. She wrote back asking what was different.
Now, here is why I keep falling in love with Jonathan Richman over and over. I wrote:
In responding to your question, I realized I don’t know how much different a Jonathan show is, maybe just in his mastery. Fundamentally everything is the same. Which is extraordinary.
He is getting more physically rumpled. He really enjoys making fun of himself.
Smiling or not, it seemed as though the whole audience was shooting cartoon parenthesis from their ray guns of happiness. And that really isn’t any different.
I think for me, how I feel a bit disconnected, and like so much, I am just trying to get a zillion things done…and clean up at the end of the day, to hear Jonathan play a beautiful version of *Summer Feeling* and having heard him play it for almost 20 years, and for it to be even more beautiful, is amazing.
You know when you hope for something, and it is bittersweet, because realistically, you know it shouldn’t happen? We are part the natural trajectory of going to see him play. It is still filled with magic and wonder. He delivers. We bare witness. To be able to follow through and actualize that level of reciprocity, that level of hope is something that shouldn’t happen. It rocks. Screamy fangirl rocks.
And to hear him say, as he steps away from the mic, “Tommy, take us somewhere. Anywhere.” is just fucking unbeatable.