Perhaps the most effective of Jonathan Richman's landscape evocations is the moment in some versions of 'Roadrunner' where he breaks off to describe the way the world seems from his car:
'Can you feel it out in Needham now?
out in route 128 by the power lines
it's so exciting there at night
with the pine trees in the dark
it's so cold here in the dark
with 50,000 watts of power
we go by faster miles an hour
with the radio on...'
A friend and fellow Jonathan Richman fan once went to Boston and brought back a photograph of a sign with those magic words 'Route 128'. Looked at here in England I knew it was a resonant metonym for something, but of what I wasn't quite sure: Jonathan Richman? Rock & Roll? American road songs, road movies, road stories...? Or just a sense of freedom?