On Jonathan Richman’s “You Can Have a Cellphone, That’s OK, But Not Me”


I could easily link you to a streaming version of this tune, but the irony makes me extremely uncomfortable. (The guy hosting it has noted this irony as well, and suggests, as I heartily do, that you just buy the record.) And anyway if ever there was a song that demanded to be listened to on 7-inch, it’s Mr. Richman’s defiant anti-technology screed, which, after like two weeks (if not two years) spending 70 percent of my waking hours staring at a computer screen, strikes me as shockingly brilliant and important. Musically it ain’t no “I Was Dancing in the Lesbian Bar,” but try not to nod your head to this:

When I’m on the beach
I’m on the beach
No you can’t call me there
And when I’m on a walk
I’m on a walk
No you can’t call me there
And when it’s breakfast time
It’s breakfast time
What more can I say?

From there he refuses to even call clubs on cell phones in the event he’s late to a show, even if it means skipping sound check, which apparently Jonathan doesn’t like either. Can’t comment on that, particularly, but the notion of eating Frosted Mini-Wheats unharrassed by modern technology is blowing my mind.

This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on January 14, 2009

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