Archive | Apr 13, 2018

Certain Songs #1184: The Modern Lovers – “Roadrunner”

Album: The Modern Lovers
Year: 1976

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6!

One of the most joyous, primal songs ever recorded, “Roadrunner” by The Modern Lovers is a serious contender for The Greatest Rock ‘n’ Roll Song ever, full stop. I’ve listened to it and loved countless times. Weirdly enough, though, that Modern Lovers version wasn’t even the first version of “Roadrunner” I heard.

In fact, in the late 1970s “Roadrunner” was one of those songs I read about without actually hearing, one of those songs that you’d read about as a huge influence on punk rock, but nearly impossible to find. In fact, I’m pretty sure the first time I actually heard any version of “Roadrunner” was the Sex Pistols half-homage half-desecration from The Great Rock ‘n’ Swindle, which I bought as an import in spring of 1980. It’s where they start playing “Johnny B. Goode” — the ur-source of Steve Jones’s riffs — but Johnny Rotten realizes he doesn’t know any of the words, so he starts yelling for them to play “Roadrunner,” and when they do, realizes that he doesn’t know any of the words to that one either, and makes a hash of the whole thing.