Jonathan Richman and The Modern Lovers (“Roadrunner”)

Pure protopunk! If you hear the similarity to The Velvet Underground’s “Sister Ray,” no coincidence there. Direct rewriting of that prior masterpiece, but here with very positive and peppy lyrics! Also, John Cale produced this song (and five others on their debut album)! This band is an important transition into what came to be known as punk and the music of that era (original band member Jerry Harrison later joined the Talking Heads, and Jerry Robinson co-founded The Cars). I got to see the second generation of the band in Berkeley in the early 80s (awesome show), and many times since with constantly changing band members. One memorable gig was JR performing in Sacramento’s Park Plaza, known to locals as “Wino Park” (and now officially renamed Cesar Chavez Plaza). Like at all his gigs, he hung out and interacted with the fairly small audience before and after the show. And what a single “Roadrunner” was, with “Pablo Picasso” as the “B-side!”

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