New Thing #7: The Modern Lovers

Each week on Monday I'm hoping to talk about some new music I've encountered along this journey of '365 New Things In 2013'. It may be brand-new music, or a brand-new band. It could be a single, it could be an entire album. It may be something that's been around forever that I've never heard before.

This week it's a band that I didn't know anything about, and it's perfect for a number of reasons as a kick-off for 'Music Monday'.

I'm going to be relying on some outside help for 52 weeks' worth of new music to write about.

One person I'll be turning to often will be my brother, a musician in his own right.

Another person whose judgment in music I trust is my friend Justin. Allow me to give you some background: Justin and I met as freshmen at Boston University. I think our first encounter happened at a meeting for the college radio station, and we paired up to do a sports show. Eventually that led to us also co-hosting a music show. My musical tastes were very narrow back then, and Justin exposed me to a lot of music then that it would be embarrassing for me not to know of now.

And now he'll do it again.

When I asked him for ideas his first suggestion was for me to go to YouTube and look up "Roadrunner" by the Modern Lovers. He calls it his favorite song to put on when he's leaving the house. "It's a great 'first song of a walk' song," he says.

So here's a little bit about the Modern Lovers, pieced together from a little research I've done and what Justin has told me:

They're a Boston band, and the great majority of their lyrics makes references to the greater Boston area. (And that's where I met Justin, so that's part of why it's perfect for this occasion!)

The lead singer and main songwriter is Jonathan Richman. Justin tells me he's also "the guy with the guitar who showed up from time to time in 'There's Something About Mary'." Wikipedia tells me he grew up in Natick, Massachusetts, which is the town that neighbors Framingham, where I now live. (Yet another reason this is a perfect starting point for Music Monday!)

The band recorded one album in their original time together from 1970-1974, the label didn't like it, dropped the band, and the band broke up. A couple of years later someone else at the label heard the album, loved it, and decided to release it. The record did OK, but the band no longer existed - one guy joined 'The Talking Heads', another co-founded 'The Cars'. "It's like this one perfect moment in time that was never recreated," describes Justin.

So that's The Modern Lovers. Justin also suggested I listen to a few of their other songs: 'Pablo Picasso', 'Government Center', and 'Modern World'.  ('Modern World' includes references to Boston University.) I don't love the songs (although a couple, after repeated listenings, definitely were growing on me), but I certainly don't hate them.

I learned something new about music, though, and that's the point. I wanted to share with you the video for 'Modern World' - it's from 1976, and it shows scenes from around Boston at the time. I'm a little obsessed with Boston before I lived up here. I was transfixed by it, and the song's not bad: