Jonathan Richman is coming to Winona. Yeah, Jonathan Richman.
It’s hard to describe a guy like Jonathan Richman to the uninitiated. The best analogy I can muster, or maybe just the first I thought of, is that he’s kind of like a White Castle burger. His music is deceptively simple and straight forward at times, but there is something steaming under the surface you can’t always interpret or put a finger on, and it often forces people to one side or the other. There aren’t too many listeners who have lukewarm opinions about Richman when they first hear his music. Often, you either like him or you don’t. And whether you like him or not, his influential ’70s proto-punk group The Modern Lovers or the direction his later stripped down solo work took, he’s always had something to say and an idiosyncratic way of saying it.
Now, no matter what side of the fence you end up finding yourself on, it is undeniable that Richman’s songs have had a profound affect on shaping musical genres like alternative rock, new wave, indie rock, and punk. He has actually been called “the Godfather of punk” by critics and many consider his song “Roadrunner” to be one of the forerunners of the genre. It has been covered by bands like the Sex Pistols and Joan Jett, and other songs of his have been played by the likes of David Bowie and Iggy Pop.
Maybe the most apparent thing, or at least the first thing readily noticed about Jonathan Richman, is his eccentricity and sense of humor. From the whimsy and sometimes uncomfortable honesty of his lyrics, to the weird behaviors he often exhibited. He’s kind of strange. He writes songs about dancing in lesbian bars, he hates air conditioning, and apparently, at one time, thought he could enter girls’ dreams to have a real connection with them on the astral plane. He was even that guy narrating scenes and playing songs in the tree in the late ’90s Farrelly brothers film “There’s Something About Mary” for which he also wrote the theme song. His childlike outlook and his refusal to let negative thoughts get him down are some of the most likable qualities about Jonathan Richman and his music. His songs and lyrics really do have that timeless quality which makes them sound just as relevant now as they did when he wrote them.
Jonathan Richman is the closest thing that indie rock has to a lounge lizard, all swank and acerbic in wit, drawling sharp-tongued observations of street life with a weird, addictive, off-kilter, beat poet charm.
I remember first moving to Winona and hearing about Ed’s (no name) Bar, googling it, and finding Ed’s old Myspace page that had Richman’s “Pablo Picasso” as its soundtrack. Wow, this must be a cool place, I thought.
– Parker Forsell (Mid West Music Fest managing director)
Yeah, I’m really excited.
– Ed Hoffman (Ed’s no name Bar owner)