“Someone I Care About” – The Modern Lovers

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Jonathan Richman and his band the Modern Lovers were a real anomaly in the early 1970s. Like many singer-songwriters of the era, Richman wrote very sensitive lyrics that wore his heart on his sleeve. But those lyrics were backed with some uncommonly abrasive music for the period (supplied by future Talking Heads member Jerry Harrison and future Cars member David Robinson). In addition, Richman’s songs decried drugs and promiscuity at a time when no one had even thought of the term “straight edge,” let alone thought it was cool. When you add his unfashionably short hair and nasally vocals into the mix, he seemed like the guy who was begging for noogies and wedgies.

But despite his “uncool for the time” demeanor, Richman was as ballsy as Iggy Pop and Lou Reed (two artists Richman admired) and like Pop and Reed, seemed to invite abuse by his mere presence. “Someone I Care About” is Richman’s declaration about wanting a girl that he cares about, or he wants nothing at all. A marked contrast to many bands of the era promising to give women every inch of their love or wanting their women hot, sweet, and sticky. Richman may not be cool in the classic rock sense, but the perspective is refreshing and a lot more sane.  Produced by John Cale of the Velvet Underground.

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“Max’s Kansas City” – Wayne County and the Backstreet Boys

Here’s the punk version of Arthur Conley’s “Sweet Soul Music.”  Wayne (now Jayne) County gives a special shout-out to one of the preeminent underground music clubs of 1960s-1970s NYC, as well as all of the NYC punk icons of the day: Patti Smith, the Ramones, the Talking Heads, Johnny Thunders and the Heartbreakers, the New York Dolls, Pere Ubu (yes, they’re from Cleveland, but they deserve a shout-out), Lance Loud and the Mumps, Richard Hell, Television, Tuff Darts, etc.  And no, the Backstreet Boys who backed Wayne up are not the barely pubescent, New Millenial bad-facial hair boys who want it THAT way.