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Tuesday, January 24, 2012

"Roadrunner"

The Modern Lovers - Roadrunner (1976)

Released five years after it was recorded, just as the singer was getting a solo career going.



A lot of road songs out there. Hundreds of odes to long black ribbons of freedom. This one is about a strip of road around Boston, and how much the singer loves it, loves driving, loves the radio, it's actually kind of infectious. It's as simple a base for a song as I can imagine. Two chords, one less than punk. Lyrics that sound like the singer is just coming up with the next line off the top of his head, and if he doesn't have one yet, he'll just repeat the line again and come up with a new line next time around. Singer, guitar player, and writer Jonathan Richman idolized The Velvet Underground. I can see that, the song does remind me of I'm Waiting For The Man or Run Run Run with even less concern for standard verse chorus verse structure. There's another reason the song reminds me of The Velvet Underground, namely, this track, and much of the album it's off of was produced by co-founder John Cale.

Musically, the standout sound is the keyboardist. Organ always makes for an interesting sound in a rock band. He plays cool stand out parts while the rest of the band is all jamming, and he gets a solo as well. Just to be thorough I looked him up to see if he had become a producer or anything cool. Imagine my surprise when I found out that the album was released several years after he had split to join newly formed New Wave act Talking Heads. Jerry Harrison was the member that wasn't David Byrne, the hot chick bassist, or the hot chick's drummer husband.

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