#914: 1976, The Modern Lovers, Roadrunner

by George_East on July 27, 2014

Not only is this song, which so inspired the punk movement, long overdue an appearance on Songs To Learn and Sing, but also neatly ties in with marathon runner Steve Way’s deserved Hero of the Week Award.

Its wonderfully simple proto-punk two chord structure and Velvets’ like use of an incessant repetitive rhythm, bizarrely took 4 years from its initial recording in 1972 until it final saw the light of day on the Modern Lovers’ debut eponymous album in 1976.  Jonathan Richman wrote even earlier, in 1970, when he was still a teenager.

It is a fantastic example of a song being too odd and raw to be released when it was recorded, but being so on the zeitgeist when it came out that it became an instant classic.  I remember first seeing it on some best of Old Grey Whistle Test show in the mid-1980s and finding it impossible to get out of my head for months afterwards.

I was out for dinner last night with a friend I’ve not seen for a while (he’s been going through a pretty difficult time over the last 6 months or so) and the subject turned quickly as it always does to music.  I asked what he’d been listening to recently and he mentioned that he’d been digging into Jonathan Richman’s back catalogue.  Coincidentally I recently purchased a re-issue CD of the Modern Lovers’ fabulous debut album.

Once Steve Way’s success was added to the mix, there could only really be one song for my choice today.

‘….with the radio on….’

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