Jonathan Richman

When I first arrived in Seattle five years ago, I made a big effort to see music–even bands I’d never heard of before. Sometimes they inspired me, but eventually all the standing around, waiting between sets, and staying up late grew exhausting. Some bands aren’t even bad, just unoriginal, but they’re equally awful to listen to.

Ultimately, cozying into Seattle’s theater scene worked best for me.

Still, there’s some live music you’d be masochistic not to see. Take, for example, Jonathan Richman playing at the Tractor Tavern. His earnest-but-playful singing, songwriting, and guitar-playing make you believe in life and not feel embarrassed about it.

While Jonathan could technically be seen as an old rocker–he first became popular in the ’70s as Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers–his music has continued to flourish over the decades. He plays Spanish guitar, sings in French, Italian, Spanish, Hebrew, and English. (For those keeping track, there’s also a Country record out there.) His songs range from the tongue-in-cheek to the revelatory (“My Baby Loves Loves Loves Me“) and always leave the audience in awe. And swaying.

On Monday night the good vibes were in full display: I hadn’t seen so many people smiling in a bar since… before coming to Seattle.

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