Interview: Singer/songwriter Jonathan Richman

Expect a range of witty songs — new and old —at The 8x10

  • Jonathan Richman performs Sunday at The 8x10 in Federal Hill.
Jonathan Richman performs Sunday at The 8x10 in Federal Hill.
February 24, 2011|By Erik Maza, The Baltimore Sun

While everyone's busy watching James Franco and Anne Hathaway yukking it up on Sunday's Academy Awards, consider going to see something a bit more low-key at the 8x10.

Jonathan Richman will perform there in support of his latest album, "O Moon, Queen of Night on Earth."

Richman has been playing guitar since he was 15, according to his biography on Vapor Records, which is releasing his new album. But he came to prominence in the 1970s with his band the Modern Lovers.

As a solo artist — a career he started in 1983 with "Jonathan Sings!" — he's shifted to telling witty, straightforward stories in his songs.

His "I Was Dancing in the Lesbian Bar" is about — what else — dancing at a lesbian bar. Lyrics: "I was dancing in a lesbian bar / Well in the first bar things were controlled / But in this bar things were rock and roll."

That brand of deadpan lyricism has won him a cult following.

In the '90s, he was a regular on Conan O'Brien's TV show. And in the movie "There's Something About Mary," he offered running commentary and performed on screen.

His new album, "O Moon," finds Richman at 59, reflecting on his career and life. There are love songs — "I Was the One She Came For" and the moody "It Was Time For Me to Be With Her."

"My Affected Accent" is Richman at his self-deprecating best. The setup is simple: "In high school I was such a brat / I talked with an accent I didn't even have."

He goes on" "I said 'the aforementioned' when I should have said 'that.'" And the song ends as abruptly as it begins: "Forty years later I apologized for / my affected accent / I'm sorry, it was affected, wasn't it?"

It might sound better in person, with Richman in a bright print shirt and a guitar strapped across his chest. But it's safe to say this: It'll beat any of the jokes Franco will crack at the Oscars.

Jonathan Richman performs Sunday at the 8x10, 8-10 E. Cross St. Doors open at 7 p.m. Tickets, $14, are sold at the door and

Erik Maza

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