Wednesday, October 12, 2011

SONG OF THE DAY FOR OCTOBER 12, 2011: ROADRUNNER BY THE MODERN LOVERS

'Roadrunner' is one of my top five rock and roll anthems. If you are unfamiliar with this tune then you are going to enjoy this golden nugget of a garage rock classic. Written by Jonathan Richman circa 1970 and recorded during the spring of 1972 by his band, The Modern Lovers, this song set the wheels in motion for the punk rock revolution. Fueled by a sense of teenage angst and a driving two-chord sound, 'Roadrunner' celebrates Richman's youth of driving around and listening to the great A.M. rock and roll radio stations. There is something to be appreciated about the songwriting of Jonathan Richman. He has a great sense of nostalgia, plus his humor is wonderful. For example, in his song 'Girlfriend' he sings, "That's a girlfriend. G-I-R-L-F-R-E-N. That's a girlfriend, baby."  

Ryan Dellwood has been a good friend for many years and it was his creation of a mix tape for me sometime during the summer of 1993 that brought The Modern Lovers into my life. The mix tape included their song 'The Old World' and I was immediately hooked by the garage rock song that had a major dose of a Velvet Underground influence. I decided to go out and look for an album by the band. I picked up their eponymous debut, produced by John Cale of the Velvet Underground, and was floored when I heard the first track, 'Roadrunner'. I thought 'The Old World' was great but 'Roadrunner' was on another level of greatness. I could relate to Richman's thoughts of days of great rock and roll gone by.

Five years after being introduced to The Modern Lovers, I had the opportunity to see Jonathan Richman in concert. One colleague informed me that Richman never played 'Roadrunner' live. I was disappointed but the show started off with Richman taking control of the crowd with his minimalist set-up of him playing an acoustic guitar and Tommy Larkins on a very basic drum set. Richman had us dancing and clapping our way through his solo catalog and some of the classics of The Modern lovers. I do not remember what song he was playing, but Richman ended it quickly and played thrity seconds of 'Roadrunner'. For me, it was thirty seconds of pure rock and roll bliss.That is something I will not forget and I hope you enjoy this classic tune. In case you are wondering, Richman was the traveling minstrel in the movie There's Something About Mary.

1-2-3-4-5-6!!!




TonyDoug Wright is the owner and editor of Champion City Comics. His webcomics include Dr Death vs The Zombie, The End of Paradise, and Day 165.

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