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(Credit: Rounder Records)


Jonathan Richman picks 10 favourite tracks for a weekend playlist


“I want nothing between me and the ground, just wanna wander and walk around.” – Jonathan Richman

What exactly is Jonathan Richman? It’s not a question that he ever seems to have bothered himself with, so for ease, neither will I. The man who sits outside of everything including outsider art is not merely unfettered by labels, but also everything else that could obscure his unwavering positivity—what a perfect guy to celebrate the weekend with!

Leading up to Berlin’s brilliantly bohemian 21 Sunsets Festival back in 2015, the Haus Der Kulturen curated a playlist series with various musical figures. Each person involved curated a playlist then enlisted a pal, set them some rules and kept the run of music going. When it comes to Richman, he received the nod from his friend Will Oldham of Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy. 

Oldham remarked: “I’d like to squeeze a playlist out of him that he didn’t expect; his knowledge of and passion for music is vast and intensely considered. But he knows how to keep enough in reserve that he can face tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow; that’s a lesson I could yet learn from him.”

Thus, he tasked him with picking his ten favourite songs for the weekend and they proved as eclectic as the man himself, and packageable only under good vibes befitting of Richman’s worldview in every sense. As Oldham adds: “He is like a priest, and he has created the dogma by which he lives. He is seemingly always down to share music.”

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Kicking off Richman’s list is the Delroy Wilson classic ‘I’m In A Dancing Mood’. The perfect sanguine Saturday morning energy is something that alchemists look to bottle. The Jamaican ska progenitor couples the beach with a coffee shop jazz vibe for something sweet without saccharine that transfigures a hangover with tipsy tones. 

From there, the frisson moves on to The Lovin’ Spoonful. The work of the late sixties New York soft rock band is something that is easily detectable in the work of Jonathan Richman & The Modern Lovers who pride themselves on extolling the same light-hearted melodic toplines. Their 1965 hit ‘Do You Believe in Magic?’ speaks of the power of music to serve up deliverance, a promise which it also soars on. 

The playlist is the sort of balm that first enticed Richman into music in the first place. As he explains: “When I was a teenager, I thought I would be a painter, and then sound overtook me. I made up songs because I had to. I had the need to express how I felt. And that’s still how it is. It’s just what I do. I do it when there’s no audience, I do it when there is an audience. And, when I paint, that’s how that is too.”

So, without further ado, dive into the playlist below, and have a road running weekend whether you’re dancing down the lesbian bar or having a quiet night in watching There’s Something About Mary. Enjoy…

Jonathan Richman’s ten favourite weekend tracks:

  1. Delroy Wilson – ‘I’m In A Dancing Mood’
  2. The Lovin’ Spoonful – ‘Do You Believe In Magic?’
  3. Bobby Blue Band – ‘Turn On Your Love Light’
  4. Little Eva – ‘Keep Yair Hands Off My Baby’
  5. Surfaris – ‘Wipe Out’
  6. Domenico Modugno – ‘Volare’
  7. Maurice Chevalier – ‘Ah! Si Vous Connaissiez’
  8. Frankie Lyomon & The Teenagers – ‘Who Can Explain’
  9. The Young Rascals – ‘Good Lovin’’
  10. Camaron De La Isla – ‘Volando Voy’