Jonathan Richman and Aerosmith in battle over state song
A campaign to make the Jonathan Richman and The Modern Lovers classic “Roadrunner” the official state rock song of Massachusetts has hit a snag: Aerosmith.
The bill to recognize “Roadrunner”, introduced to the state legislature by Dorchester Representative Marty Walsh earlier this month, now faces competition from a competing bill to give the state rock song honors to Aerosmith’s “Dream On”.
Duxbury Democrat Representative Josh Cutler and Marshfield Democrat Rep. James Cantwell introduced the “Dream On” legislation on Monday.
“With all due respect, Aerosmith is the best-selling American rock band of all time. No band is more closely associated with Massachusetts,” Rep. Cantwell told the State House News Service.
In the same article Cutler argued that “Dream On” was the better candidate because it’s a “classic ballad that's all about holding on to your dreams and seizing opportunity.”
The counter-legislation flies directly in the face of a grassroots effort in Richman’s corner. The “Roadrunner” movement was spearheaded by Joyce Linehan, a former Sub Pop A&R rep and current resident of Dorchester who presented Walsh with a petition to enshrine the song.
Linehan told The Boston Globe first got the idea from a 2007 article in The Guardian where a writer visited all of the places mentioned in “Roadrunner.” A road song devoted to the Massachusetts highway, Richman would vary the lyrics to include a bevy of local land marks. See a video of a performance of the song below.
She was further pushed into action when a new Boston radio station offered a public vote for which Massachusetts-based song would be the first they would play. “Roadrunner” placed second to the Mighty Mighty Bosstones’ “I Want My City Back.”
Linehan is hardly alone in liking the song. Over the years, “Roadrunner” has been covered by bands ranging from the Sex Pistols to Yo La Tengo.
“I just remember what an anthem it was,” Buffalo Tom’s Bill Janovitz told the Globe. “It’s absolute poetry and cuts right into the essence of what makes suburban Massachusetts so interesting.”
Pic credit: Ollie Millington/Redferns