Friday, 5 November 2010

“I CALLED THIS NUMBER THREE TIMES ALREADY TODAY”: FURTHER EVIDENCE OF THE GODLIKE GENIUS OF JONATHAN RICHMAN DISCOVERED


”Look, just tell me why don't ya...
...if I'm out of place."

Ironically, it wasn’t the underwhelming experience of seeing Jonathan Richman live but the YouTube clip Mike Taylor posted to my Comments, that had me listening to his music all over again.
While Richman may be best known for songs of childlike exuberance, the early Modern Lovers sang as ably about teenage awkwardness – not ramped up or shot through with wish-fulfillment, but that state of bedroom incomprehension at the world nailed straight. The love songs are all wanna-be love songs, chronicles of hopeless crushes, the girlfriend in ’Girlfriend’ about as accessible as the Cezannes in the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.

This song, ’I’m Straight’, perfectly captures that pained befuddlement over seeing girls going for somebody else - oblivious to the fact that I’m such a nice guy. The music perfectly matches the words, vulnerable, hesitant, fractured yet repetitive, and at exactly the same time compellingly catchy. Almost every note sounds out of place, which is why it all ultimately fits together so well.

Despite the “three times already” opening you know this is only a phone conversation in his own mind, ”I've watched you walk around here” leaving you wondering whether he’s ever spoken to the girl he’s singing about. “Now look, I like him too” is so absurdly moderate a line as to be hilarious, but also absolutely accurate. And the way it builds into a chorus (“tell the world now”) while losing not one whit of its outsiderness... genuis!!!

The custom-made video’s pretty fitting too, with the period setting, the insistent looping of the petty scenes echoing the repetition of the lyrics. (The poster comments “I wanted to put this song up as my facebook status.”)

No comments:

Post a Comment