Modern Lovers’ ‘RoadRunner’ Nominated For Official Massachusetts Rock Song

The '70s proto-punk track is a love letter to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

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Sorry, Boston. Move over, Mighty Mighty Bosstones. Don’t even think about it, Dropkick Murphys. The Modern Lovers’ ode to Massachusetts, “Roadrunner,”  has been nominated as the Commonwealth’s official rock song.

Admittedly, Massachusetts already has an official state song,”All Hail To Massachusetts.” But last week, State Representative Martin Walsh of Dorchester filed a bill proposing that “Roadrunner” be named the state’s official rock song. Nominating a state song from a specific genre isn’t uncommon in the Commonwealth: it already has an official state folk song, Arlo Guthrie’s “Massachusetts,” as well as an official polka, “Say Hello to Someone From Massachusetts.”

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While other Bay State-bred groups like Aerosmith might disagree, it’s hard to think of a song that better encapsulates a love of Massachusetts than “Roadrunner.” The song, which is perhaps the Modern Lovers’ best known track, is a love letter from the group’s founder Jonathan Richman to the state where he grew up. In the song, the band – made up of Richman as well as Jerry Harrison, who rose to fame as part of Talking Heads, and David Robinson, who later joined the Cars – sing about driving past a Stop & Shop, listening to”the modern sounds of modern Massachusetts” and loving “[route] 128 when it’s dark outside.” Perhaps more to the point, in the song, Richman declares, “I’m in love with Massachusetts” — and what self-respecting state senator wouldn’t appreciate that sentiment?

“I’m not going to compare a rock song to what the Founding Fathers did, but it is about our state’s history and we have to be proud of the people who have made it that way,” Walsh told Before the Modern Lovers song can get the official seal of Commonwealth approval, though, the bill has to make it through committee, a public hearing and pass both the House of Representatives and the Senate. Then, if both branches approve the bill, Governor Deval Patrick would sign a bill making the Modern Lovers’ “Roadrunner” the official rock song of Massachusetts. Radio on!

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