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Because Her Beauty Is Raw and Wild

Jonathan Richman

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Album Review

Jonathan Richman closes his 20th album, 2008's Because Her Beauty Is Raw and Wild, with "As My Mother Lay Lying," a simple, emotionally powerful song in which he sings about sitting with his mother as she hovered near death in a home for the elderly, and how much he continued to learn from her even in her final moments. It's a singular piece of work that without calling attention to itself shows how far Richman's muse has taken him in the past decade. While sweetness and unaffected emotional honesty still dominate Richman's music, he's quietly allowed his music to grow in unexpected ways, embracing French and Spanish as well as English, writing of art and the ecstasies of love with unforced intelligence and brio, and pondering the mysteries of life and decay in a manner that's never pretentious but still conveys the weight of his themes. Richman covers a Leonard Cohen number, "Here It Is," and it fits like a charm with the 12 new originals on this album (one divided into two parts); Richman may not share the same dark undercurrents that inform Cohen's lyrics, but as he's matured his songs reflect a depth and fearlessness these two songwriters certainly share, and the intimacy of these recordings, most featuring just Richman and percussionist Tommy Larkins, only adds to their effectiveness. When Jonathan Richman debuted with the Modern Lovers, he sounded like someone who had somehow managed to create his own style independent of what was happening in the world of music around him, and with Because Her Beauty Is Raw and Wild, he confirms that he's still following a path all his own, and it's a journey that's strange, compelling, and very beautiful.

Customer Reviews

Him, Jonathan

Jonathan Richman has been writing songs, making records and performing live for most of his life, winning fans and making friends around the world with his guileless honesty and playfully catchy compositions. He's revered by countless fellow artists, and has built a remarkably loyal international audience through his tireless touring. His deceptively straightforward songs embody timeless qualities of humanity, optimism, emotional insight and a boundless sense of humor, untainted by cynicism or transient notions of hipness. "Playing shows and making records keeps been getting easier and more fun," Jonathan states, adding, "Me and Tommy play totally different than we played two years ago. We already play a different style than we played on that live DVD, and the way we played then was totally different from the way we played three years before that. I still feel like we're just starting out, and I still learn new stuff every night."

Biography

Born: 15 May 1951 in Boston, MA

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Jonathan Richman was one of rock's most eccentric and unpredictable cult figures, a performer whose eternally childlike public persona and seeming naiveté — typified by songs like "Ice Cream Man," "Hey There Little Insect" and "I'm a Little Aeroplane" — tended to obscure the dexterity and craft of his music, which skirted from garage rock to country to Latin stylings and back. Born May 15, 1951 in Boston, Massachusetts, Richman began playing guitar at the age of 15, and within a year...
Full bio

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