Jonathan Richman is a wide-eyed, angelic, and earnest troubadour from Massachusetts. He dances like a noodle and does not get self-conscious. He writes straightforward lyrics about exactly what is on his mind, like a goofy teenager with a crush on the world. He croons in a thick Boston accent.
As a teenager, Richman formed the proto-punk band the Modern Lovers in 1970 because he loved the Velvet Underground so much (adorable lyrics from Richman's song "Velvet Underground": Rock and roll but not like the rest/And to me, America at its best/How in the world were they making that sound?/Velvet Underground!). The first version of the Modern Lovers broke up in 1974, with their albums coming out post-breakup. They recorded demos with John Cale (of the Velvet Underground! Jonathan must have been so excited!) in 1972 that were released as a self-titled "debut" album in 1976. Later in 1972, they recorded with super-creep Kim Fowley—those songs were released in 1981 under the title The Original Modern Lovers. Make sense? Of course not. Both albums contain different recordings of the same songs, sometimes with different spellings.
In 1976, Richman continued making music with various backing bands, now billed as Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers. This version was more acoustic and mellow, music that emphasized Jonathan's whimsical voice and lyrics. He went solo in the early 1980s and has put out 15 albums since, ranging from rock to pop to acoustic to Latin-influenced to country.