JONATHAN RICHMAN with TOMMY LARKINS and STEPHANIE NILLES at the Great Hall (1087 Queen West), Wednesday and Thursday (June 5 and 6), 9 pm. $20. TW. See listing.
I just received a fax from Jonathan Richman.
The cult singer/songwriter and guitarist (whose song Roadrunner is being considered for Massachusetts's official state rock song) has been refusing to do phone interviews for print media for about five years now.
I heard that he'd written a music writer a poem last year as a compromise, so I wasn't entirely surprised when his assistant suggested I send him some questions and a fax number.
I was surprised, however, to find out that in addition to his illustrious music career, Richman is a professional translator of Italian poems and essays, and an inspired stonemason in the summer. Richman asked that I leave his replies intact, so here are a couple of his answers, verbatim, via fax machine from San Francisco:
SG: What are you working on now? Can we expect a new Jonathan Richman album or collaboration soon?
JR: New single out now on Vapor Records: "Keith" with "They Showed Me The Door To Bohemia."
SG: What inspires you musically (or otherwise) these days?
JR: Music from India such as the ragas and ancient chants, music from Mali, Spain, Egypt... Debussy, Ravel, Satie, De Falla... Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers, Tony Passalaqua and the Fascinators....
*then, on another page*
Sarah! Did you get my other page OK?
I just thought of more stuff. I realized you asked if anything else other than music was inspiring me these days. Yes. My "summer job:" I do stone and brick work: I build bread ovens. I'm working on one right now. I'll have to interrupt work on it for this June tour. It looks like this
I apprenticed as a stone mason from, oh, 1994 to 1998 and I'm still studying and learning and building. When I do this I lose all track of time. I think I've been working one hour and it turns out to be four hours.
SG: In your opinion, what makes a great Jonathan Richman show? When are you most satisfied that the audience gets it?
JR: Applause isn't the thing, it's communication.