Song 110: Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers, “Roadrunner” (1972)


There’s been a lot of talk lately about the resiliency of the people in this cities and its surrounding towns, about how we can’t be pushed around, about how we won’t be terrorized. But what I felt yesterday was something different, something I’ve always loved about this town: we’re a community. This fact alone doesn’t make us very different from other cities, but there’s something about the way Bostonians bond, whether it’s during a blizzard, a lockdown, or a nail-biting World Series game. We’re a funny people, full of Puritan rigidness and Catholic guilt (regardless of our upbringing or religious background), but also full of humor and capable of great love and compassion.

All of that is evident when you have the odd pleasure of driving around Boston. There’s no grid, and that street you’re looking for is probably a one-way the wrong way, and five people will cut you off and generally be dicks, you’ll go over the Tobin when all you wanted to do was go a couple blocks away. And let’s face it: you’ll probably, at some point, accidentally end up in Malden.

But let’s talk about what you might see while you’re driving: a giant sign that used to advertise a gas company but now, unbelievably, is a beautiful icon of our city. An enormous milk bottle. So many gorgeous bridges. A massive billboard on the Pike that, for 18 years, has called for more restrictive gun control. Funny graffiti. A gas tank with a design that looks like Ho Chi Minh.

Today, as we finally leave our houses, we get to see our cities again. Not as they looked yesterday–desolate and uncertain–but as they look every other day of the year, with wonderful, strange people and relics of our idiosyncratic, fascinating history. And, of course, cops and firemen, EMTs and steadfast citizens, a bunch of human beings who finally get to breathe easy again, just for a little bit.

I’m in love with Massachusetts.


One Comment on “Song 110: Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers, “Roadrunner” (1972)”

  1. Chris says:

    But when you end up in Malden you’ll be glad you’re there …

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