Jonathan Rich­man - ‘I, Jonathan (1992)’

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - NEWS - Donal Di­neen

Jonathan Rich­man is an enigma. A beau­ti­ful one. The truth is never far away in any one of his many types of songs. He wears his heart on his sleeve.

He could have startded off in a blaze of glory with The Mod­ern Lovers, hang­ing out with his he­roes The Vel­vet Un­der­ground and hav­ing John Cale pro­duce their debut LP, but he seemed to have spent a lot of time put­ting out that fire rather than adding any fuel to it. Band mem­bers speak with some frus­tra­tion about his hes­i­ta­tion and wild about-turns, but al­ways with a de­gree of fond­ness too.

Around about the time he recorded Road­runer with Cale in 1972, he started to have doubts about the loose gui­tar sound, crash­ing drums and barely sung vo­cals that made it so disct­inc­tive. His doubts were un­founded. It was re­leased in 1976 and placed The Mod­ern Lovers at the van­guard of an emer­erg­ing proto-punk sound.

Rich­man was in­tent on turn­ing back but he had found him­self a fol­low­ing so he went with it and surfed the big wave. He wasn’t the first to no­tice the fault­lines in the machi­na­tions of the mu­sic in­dus­try, but he was one of the first to ac­tively speak out. He wasn’t a man for churn­ing out ve­ri­ons of what he’d done be­fore. His path and the truth al­ways had to be aligned. Change and evo­lu­tion was his thing.

At the turn of the decade, Rich­man was ready to leave the brash days behind and ex­plore a qui­eter sound with the lyrics tak­ing cen­tre stage. He had a fine-tuned ear for the po­et­ics of lan­guage. His ex­tra­or­di­nary knack for find­ing his way to the heart of the mat­ter and then the per­fect words to turn them into songs was his great­est tal­ent.

That Sum­mer Feel­ing was writ­ten and re­leased in 1984, but didn’t ap­pear on an al­bum un­til 1992. A bet­ter song about the fleet­ing magic and in­her­ent tragedy of those tran­sient glory days you will not find.

He tem­pers the beau­ti­ful in­no­cence and joie de vivre (that hov­ers through­out the song with the weight of ex­pe­ri­ence). It leaves you wish­ing you were a little wiser back then, tak­ing some time to breathe it all in be­fore it was gone.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Ireland

© PressReader. All rights reserved.