…going faster miles an hour

Perhaps it’s the annoying fatigue, cloaked with an invariable sense of purpose, but far from a leisurely ride or everyday commute, a solitary, late night drive down the Interstate is a singular, utilitarian effort.  As a parent, a relative or a friend you’re bathed in darkness behind the wheel for circumstantial reasons. Sober reasons.

And yet that all-encompassing darkness ‘neath the dash is much the same as it was when you were in your teens (younger, perhaps than your kids are now!), when the solo late-night experience was fresh and anything but sobering with the whoosh of the wind amplified against the windows, the headlight-lanced highway straight ahead, the scent of dew through the vents and stale coffee in a discarded cup somewhere on the floor.

That “joyride era” for many of us occurred a handful of years after the Eisenhower Administration’s final push for high-speed roadways.  Suddenly metropolises everywhere seemed to be surrounded by four-lane beltways, allowing one to simply drive, with no destination and no particular purpose but to “motor-vate” onwards…with the radio on.

Which is another reason why I’ve long felt a kindredship with Jonathan Richman.  That and the fact that although he was born a number of years earlier than me (1951), we each first saw the light of day at Leonard Morse Hospital in Natick, Massachusetts. Richman wrote today’s selection in 1970, at about the same time that he formed his band, The Modern Lovers.

Decades later a journalist with The Guardian (an excellent British daily) wrote about her attempt to visit all the places mentioned in the various recorded versions of “Roadrunner” (and there are many), including the Stop & Shop and Howard Johnson’s in Natick, Rt. 128, the Mass ‘Pike, Deer Island, Quincy, Cohasset and the Prudential Tower (not all mentioned in this version), referring to it as “one of the most magical songs in existence.”

Others have also had success with the song, including the Sex Pistols as part of “The Great Rock & Roll Swindle” soundtrack; and it’s high praise indeed when that erudite, sophisticated aficionado, Johnny Rotten opines that he hates all music, except for “Roadrunner”

 LISTEN TO TODAY’S SELECTION – Friday 20 April

1969 Plymouth "Gold Duster" somewhere between San Francisco and Atlanta

1969 Plymouth “Gold Duster” somewhere between San Francisco and Atlanta.
Late at night on the Interstate and AM all the way.

Roadrunner

One two three four five six!

Roadrunner, roadrunner

Going faster miles an hour

Gonna’ drive past the Stop ‘n’ Shop

With the radio on

I’m in love with Massachusetts

And the neon when it’s cold outside

And the highway when it’s late at night

Got the radio on

I’m like the roadrunner

Alright

I’m in love with modern moonlight

128 when it’s dark outside

I’m in love with Massachusetts

I’m in love with the radio on

It helps me from being alone late at night

It helps me from being lonely late at night

I don’t feel so bad now in the car

Don’t feel so alone, got the radio on

Like the roadrunner

That’s right

 Said welcome to the spirit of 1956

Patient in the bushes next to ’57

The highway is your girlfriend as you go by quick

Suburban trees, suburban speed

And it smells like heaven

 I say roadrunner once

Roadrunner twice

I’m in love with rock & roll and I’ll be out all night

Roadrunner

That’s right

 Well now

Roadrunner, roadrunner

Going faster miles an hour

Gonna’ drive to the Stop ‘n’ Shop

With the radio on at night

And me in love with modern moonlight

 Me in love with modern rock & roll

Modern girls and modern rock & roll

Don’t feel so alone, got the radio on

Like the roadrunner

OK now you sing Modern Lovers

(Radio On!)

 I got the AM

 (Radio On!)

 Got the car, got the AM

 (Radio On!)

 Got the AM sound, got the

(Radio On!)

 Got the rockin’ modern neon sound

(Radio On!)

I got the car from Massachusetts, got the

(Radio On!)

 I got the power of Massachusetts when it’s late at night

 (Radio On!)

 I got the modern sounds of modern Massachusetts

 I’ve got the world, got the Turnpike, got the

I’ve got the, got the power of the AM

 Got the, late at night, rock & roll late at night

 The factories and the auto signs got the power of modern sounds

Alright

 Bye bye



 

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