Great interview with Jonathan Richman by Arielle Mae at Synthesis Weekly:
“AM: Where did you first play?
JR: Just coffee shops, outside, anywhere anyone would let me play.
AM: And what was the reception like?
JR: People ran away.
JR: Yeah. It was. Because I didn’t tune the guitar. I just plugged in amplifiers, and played loud… (Singing) It’s called vomit!!!!
AM: That’s amazing.
JR: Yeah, well they were pretty amazed. And they ran. They knew when the gettin’ was good, so they just ran out. And I would play in front of people on big Sunday shows out in the commons in Cambridge, Massachusetts, a thousand people. And people by the hundreds would run away with their hands over their ears.
AM: So what made you stick with it?
JR: Well (laughs), two hundred stayed! And I was thinking, all right! Some people actually stayed! I knew what I sounded like. I didn’t expect everyone to like it.
AM: That’s strong confidence to have at that age.
JR: Yeah I was confident. And I just wanted to do it. I got to express myself in public.
AM: So who instilled the confidence?
JR: I wonder who. Because I had it when I was a kid.
AM: Very self assured?
JR: In some ways. In front of people. In second grade, I’d say: Miss DeRosa, the children look bored, you want me to tell them a story? (Laughs). The thing was, I had no story. I had no idea what I was going to say. Whatever it was, I was just going to make it up.
AM: Did she ever say yes?
JR: No. Once Miss DeRosa was at the blackboard doing sums there, telling people 13+2, 8+1, how much is that, and I just yelled from my seat, just [yelling] YEAH SO ANYWAY THEN MY MOTHER CAME HOME AND I GOTTA, AND WE DECIDED, and I would just yell stuff. And she didn’t turn around. She wasn’t going to dignify this behavior, and I yelled, MISS DEROSA, CAN’T YA HEAR ME? And she doesn’t turn around, she drops the chalk in one hand, she drops the eraser in the other hand and just looks up at the sky and says, In my sleep I hear you. (Laughs).
AM: Teachers worst nightmare!
JR: Yeah, I was. Yes.”
Read the rest here: