Thursday, September 08, 2005

"Roadrunner"

Sometimes the most revolutionary ideas come in the smallest packages.
Way, way back in the mists of time, rock was a simple thing; a limited number of chords, a simple drums-bass-guitar-voice set-up and a single microphone hanging from the ceiling.
After a while folk got ambitious and started stacking other things on top: a second and even third guitar, a keyboard or two, some brass, some harmony, while the guys behind the recording studio console struggled to keep up. So we went from Bill Haley to Emerson, Lake and Palmer in a staggeringly short period of time.
1976 has a lot to answer for - not just the blast of phlegm from the punks and their desire to outrage and confront, but also the stripping away of all those layers of sophistication and pretention. And if any one song best exemplified the move back to basics, it's this.
Jonathan Richman is revered as a combination of faux-naif, idiot-savant, fey flower child and rocker. His songs are...eccentric, off-the-wall and totally individual. For this, he took just two chords and strung them together with a driving biff-bang-pow drumbeat and a stream of consciousness about driving around Boston and hey presto, an instant classic. This song doesn't seduce, threaten or cajole. It just gets on with it and if you're happy to ride along, so much the better.
Oh, and there is a third chord. Right at the end of the song.

2 comments:

Cocaine Jesus said...

yep, one of my favourites too

michael said...

and mine. there are several versions thoughn and my favourite is the one with the tinny organ being played by John Cale I believe?