Every couple of years or so, whenever the mood strikes, I hit up the Jonathan Richman section of the record store as he consistently releases albums I tend to miss out on. (Did you know he is now on Vapor Records, Neil Young’s imprint? Neither did I.) Over the holidays, while in Athens for a a couple of nights, I did the requisite visitation and perusal of the downtown record shops. As fate would have it, this time during my irregular checking of the Richman stacks, it turned out the artist had just released a new record, O Moon, Queen Of Night On Earth. I picked it up, carried it to the clerk at the register and bought it; marking the first Jonathan Richman LP I had purchased, upon its release, in years.

You either like Richman or, well, you just don’t. There is not much middle ground for an artist alternately described as infantile and brilliant. Having almost immediately abandoned the proto-punk sound he helped ignite with the Modern Lovers debut, Richman has been following his own curious muse for three-plus decades now. Here, on Oh Moon, we find Richman donning many of the familiar hats he’s worn over the years: “foreign language Richman,” “folkie Richman,” “whimsical Richman,” and more often that not, employing a number these (and more) at the same time. It’s these idiosyncrasies we fans have come to embrace, and expect, over the years.

The track below, “I Was The One She Came For,” is vintage Richman through and through. It’s nothing fancy and it certainly doesn’t find Richman treading any new ground. He doesn’t have to—he marked his own territory years ago. Instead, in 2011, we the audience are invited inside Richman’s world should we care to join him.  I, for one, am glad I thought to check the stacks that day at Wuxtry.

MP3: Jonathan Richman :: I Was The One She Came For
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5 Responses to “Jonathan Richman :: O Moon, Queen Of Night On Earth”

  1. Got it a few weeks ago and love it. It’s no _Her Mystery Not of High Heels and Eye Shadow_ or _Because Her Beauty Is Raw and Wild_ but it is quite wonderful in a sadder way than his other records of late. He’s on a short tour of support for this one. Incidentally, I saw an interview with him where he expressed regret over releasing some of the more “infantile,” or as a friend of mine once said, “his songs about macaroni and cheese,” songs and records from the 80s.
    How great has his guitar playing gotten with age?

  2. I agree about the love or hate attitude toward Jonathan Richman. Nothing in between. I also agree with Weirdbeard that he’s a damn good guitarist; he’s also pretty endearing and charming when he’s being all whimsical. I’ve been lucky enough to see him a few times as he’s married to the daughter of a bar-owner in a Northern California town I lived in for a few years. Always a great show.

  3. Weirdbeard, do you happen to have a link to that interview? Sounds interesting. If you haven’t seen him live, please please do so.

  4. Album cover not withstanding, his first record for Vapor, Surrender to Jonathan, is really good. Full band, great organ and even some horns. I think that was one of his best tours too. Do yourself a favor and check out the songs Little Sleeper Car and Just Look at Me.

  5. Doody-
    The interview I’m talking about is in the bonus features from the _Take Me To The Plaza_ DVD. Here’s a link to the youtube clip of it:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YJG4bQxVIHM

    And, yes, I’ve seen him twice at The High Tone in Memphis and I’m going to see him in Chapel Hill at the end of Feb. Aside from seeing GBV a few months ago, those are the happiest concerts I’ve ever been to.

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