Richard Barone’s Got A Secret: New York City, Endless Source Of The New

Fronted by the nervous guitar and earnest vocals of Richard Barone, the Bongos grabbed the torch from the Talking Heads to light the way into the 1980s for a second generation of eye-opening New York bands that sounded nothing like their predecessors. Dedicated to the proposition that the tired and huddled masses could still find comfort at CBGB (or at Maxwell’s across the Hudson River), the Bongos ruled the greater-NYC roost. A stimulating succession of solo releases, topped by this year’s Glow (Bar/None), leaves no doubt that Barone is still hitting on all cylinders, a vital and imaginative force in today’s music scene when most of his contemporaries have fallen by the wayside. Barone will be guest editing all week. Read our Q&A with him.

Barone: I used to have a terrible habit of falling in love with every city I visited. Whether on tour or vacationing, I’ve had passionate affairs with London, Rio de Janiero, Paris, Berlin. Especially Berlin. A few days in, I would start apartment hunting. But it never lasted. Always, I was pulled back to my beloved. Each time I saw its skyline again, whether scooping in on a late-night 747 flight flying low above Fifth Avenue, heading uptown before turning east to JFK for a landing or riding in a maniacally driven yellow taxicab approaching one of its magnificent monster bridges heading toward the mothership of Manhattan, my heart leapt and still leaps every time. Now I have a grasp that all of those others were just casual affairs. I’ll admit, they continue, but I always come home. Sheepishly, maybe, with foreign lipstick on my collar. But, New York looks at me and I look back—and somehow all is forgiven. Besides that the mix of people here exists nowhere else in the world (you may try to argue that, but you would lose; it simply does not exist to this degree elsewhere), one of the most endesssly awesome things about New York is that it always feels new. There are always places to be discovered. There are always new people to meet, new worlds to enter on literally every block. Everyone knows this, which is why everyone comes here. This is where things start, and the only place they could: television, telecommunications, punk rock. You can feel the electricity the moment you step outside, even on the quietest block. You hear the sizzle of activity, the traffic of competition, the sense of we’re all in this boat together. This lifeboat and everyone has a job to do if we’re gonna keep afloat. Every cliché is true here: With every disaster, every period of economic hardship, every scandal and every disappointment, New York comes back stronger than before. Not like it never happened, but like it did. Knowing more for having felt so much. And then, everything is new all over again.

“There is no place like it, no place with an atom of its glory, pride, and exultancy. It lays its hand upon a man’s bowels; he grows drunk with ecstasy; he grows young and full of glory, he feels that he can never die.” —Walt Whitman

Video after the jump.