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I was born at a relatively young age. Growing up consumed the better part of my childhood. As a young man I chased a lot of girls. But they kept getting away. Then I got older and even slower, so I got married. I've lived in New York City almost since before I moved here. I summer in Manhattan, which is like New York City, but with more humidity.

Here's me, without baby, thinking big thoughts. (Actually, what I'm thinking is, "Hey, these aren't Pringles!") I think I look better with baby.


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It Was 30 Years Ago Today...
Wednesday, May 14, 2008

In 1976 I went away to college-- Clark University in Worcester Mass-- where I met a girl who became my first serious long term girlfriend. We were buddies for a good 8 months first. It was during the buddy phase that she introduced me to the music of Todd Rundgren, who was her favorite. At the time I was listening to Yes, ELP, Pink Floyd, Tull-- you know, music to get high for the first time to. The swirling synths of her favorite Todd records, Todd and Initiation, were right up my alley, and I instantly "got" the Beatles/Beach Boys appeal of Something/Anything. After 2 years we both transferred out of Clark to NYU, and that last semester at Clark (spring '78) Todd put out Hermit of Mink Hollow, the first release of his since I'd become a fan. It was brilliant and I played it to death.

Meanwhile, I was already hanging out at NYU, my best friend went there. On Sunday, May 14-- it was Mother's Day-- the girlfriend and I scored tickets to the late show at the Bottom Line, Todd's Back to the Bars tour. I remember visiting the dorm, thinking about how cool it would be to actually be going there in September, going to college in Greenwich Village, and the Bottom Line right around the corner. Life was good.

And this was my first Todd show. We sat off to the side on the right, but of course every seat at the Bottom Line was a great seat (damn I miss that place.) I remember he opened with "Real Man," a song I liked. "Zen Archer" made an impression on me even though I hadn't heard it before. Moogy Klingman, who co-wrote Bette Midler's "Friends," played piano in the band-- besides Todd he was my girlfriend's favorite. Since the tour was a career retrospective (for the not-yet-30 year-old artist) they hit a lot of material I knew-- "You Cried Wolf" and "Bread" from the new record; "Love of the Common Man" (an immediate favorite), "Hello Its Me," "It Wouldn't Have Made Any Difference"... I remember the segue of "Eastern Intrigue" and "Initiation" was a blissful set piece;I think we'd listened to side 1 of Initiation more than any other record. They played Moogy's "Lady Face," which I'd never heard but which was instantly likable, and I called my girlfriend that for a while after.

For years I'd wished I could hear Todd play "Determination" live-- when push comes to shove one of my 10 favorite songs of his, and all the compression on the recording notwithstanding, just a perfect tune, the way the lyrics just come tumbling out, and the heart-on-sleeve sentiment, and of course the perfect insistent guitar licks that start the song off and trail off at the end and drive it throughout. It wasn't until about 1998, when I finally got a bootleg of the show, that I discovered that I actually heard "Determination" at my very first Todd concert.

When you're 19 and still soaking up music like you're a biscuit and the music is gravy, and your eyes and ears are wide open, and then you see an artist like this in a tiny little venue, and you were already really into the music, but then the concert just totally turns your head around-- well, there's nothing else like that, not at any other time in your life. Things like that made the 60s happen, made the wall come down in Berlin, put that kid in front of that tank in China, and I'm not kidding. Music and youth never goes out of style.

For the next 8 years I found my way into over 50 more Todd and Utopia shows. It was great being a fan around New York in the late 70s/early 80s; the typical show was, say, up in Poughkeepsie or out at Stony Brook, and you'd spend 2 hours getting there, and then 8 hours on line because you had to be up close and it was general admission. And you knew everyone else on the line, because that's just the way it was, and eventually you ended up friends with most of them, and sometimes you'd pass someone in the city and you'd smile and nod at each other because, well, you knew. Eyes that have seen and all that.

Then finally the show would happen, and it would fill your head and your heart with Technicolor joy. I remember my concert buddy Fred and I trying to explain to our parents why we wanted to see three shows in four days when each time the band played the exact same set list...

Hard to believe that was 30 years ago. Where does the time go?

Here's "Determination" from that show.

Labels: ,


Posted by: --josh-- @ 11:39 PM  


5 Comments:
At 5/15/2008 6:20 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...   

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.


At 5/15/2008 11:12 PM, Blogger --josh-- said...   

but... who are you?


At 5/16/2008 6:40 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...   

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.


At 5/16/2008 6:46 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...   

my brother was a Todd fan since Nazz. I grew up with Todd. We had the piano music to the Something/Anything album. I used to have "It wouldnt have made any difference" memorized.

Of course, most notable is that I stalked my best friends boyfriend on line by telling him I was a Todd fan.


At 6/02/2008 4:11 PM, Anonymous Roxiticus Desperate Housewives said...   

Hey, Best...
I know you don't usually do "memes" but this one is right up your alley, so...I've tagged you with the 7 Song Music Meme. It's an easy one...Please visit Roxiticus Desperate Housewives to learn more.

Thanks -- Roxy


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