Friday, June 20, 2008

When We Refuse To Suffer

is a hell of a song from the new Jonathon Richman album. Bought it 2 weeks ago before a road trip (forgetting that we can only listen to "mama loves you music" [the African Dreams CD] in the car with littles these days, and that new music is only good driving music if you can really crank it) and am just now listening to it for the first time., low volume on earbuds while the rest of the house is asleep.

First thoughts: that this is the record I had been wishing Jonathon would make since I saw him a couple of times in Fayetteville around 2002 or so. No Rick Ocasek, No band (so far) just Jonathon playing that amplified gut string and Tommy Larkins on the stand up drum kit. It's very immediate and intimate and I'm certain that some jerkoff reviewer is going to call it "low-fi" when it's just the opposite. Well, maybe not the opposite : it's not "hi-fi" it's just..."fi," as in fi-delicious, as in fi-i-i-ine!

Second thoughts: that description makes it sound like it isn't rock and roll. Not true. Following Lunsford's theory of rock and roll (the more instruments you have the less each person can play) this format really frees Jonathon and Tommy to work these small-but-mighty rock and roll songs for all their worth. Oh, there is a band now, kind of, or at least some piano and electric guitar. Just enough.

Third thoughts: More on the songs after I've absorbed them. Right now the lyrics that leap out are like this from "Our Party Will Be on the Beach Tonight": "We'll spill things there, and we won't care...and we won't care." No, I know, but you have to hear him sing it.

Fourth Thoughts: by the second version, i'm pretty sure that i have some serious disagreements with the central argument in "When We Refuse To Suffer" but its still a great song.

last thoughts: nice little post about this album's special connections to the Mission District in San Francisco, where Jonathon has lived for a few years now.


John A Arkansawyer said...

"I'm less sure of what to do about the 80s..." Three words (or is it four?): "Pre-School Mosh Pit". Seriously. Tell me your daughter's dancing doesn't remind you of punk rock folk dancing to Brave Combo. (I said it better at the time.) So maybe you need to go dancing.

(I'm told by the reliablest source that you and I dance just alike.)

If I had the Cates in a listenable form, I'd put 'em on and tell you what I think; I don't so I can't, but I will when I can so I can.

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