Friday, February 01, 2008

YOU HAD ME AT “HELLO . . . “ THIRTY-SIX YEARS AGO


Just when I thought I had packed my teenage obsession with Todd Rundgren away with my jean cutoff short-shorts (the ones with the butterfly patch sewn onto the bum – the ones I couldn’t wear around my dad); my roller skating jersey; my gold wrap around snake arm bracelet; my emotionally blown out mood ring; and the dried-up powder blue carnation - a corsage from my first formal Junior High School dance (FYI: it will always be “Junior High,” not “Middle School,” to my generation) . . .

Just when I thought by packing away my old LP’s and 45’s in exchange for CD’s and Mp3’s; (cassettes – not worth mentioning - came and went with little hoopla; 8 tracks were alright, but I never really bought into them much) . . .

Just when I thought by growing three babies into adulthood; by finally committing to wearing sunscreen, faithfully; and by accepting the fact that my last name would never be Rundgren . . .

Just when I thought I had come to see Todd through the eyes of a fully matured, real woman (as I wrote about last November 2006 when I saw him perform with The New Cars). . .

And just when I thought IT WOULDN’T HAVE MADE ANY DIFFERENCE at this point in my life . . . he comes to town in his familiar, charming, silly, witty, intelligent and incredibly talented Todd way . . . turning up the heat (without the needed aid of a warm-up band) in a small corner of Detroit on a minus twenty degree Fahrenheit night . . . and twists my plot.

By the time I enter The Magic Bag, promptly at eight o’clock for doors, having stood outside in a line, a smile is already frozen to my face. And, even after I melt, it remains. I can’t help myself. I admit it’s a bit over the top for me to carry on this way. But it feels so good. It feels like all those years, all that time elapsed, every trial and tribulation along the way were erased in one fell swoop (and swoon) for one evening and one day of afterglow. I am, once again, in my skinny, prepubescent twelve year old body, sitting Indian-style on my bedroom floor, brown braids running down my shoulders, burning Nag Champa (wait, I still do that) and playing Todd albums over and over and over again on my record player. Even the mention of ‘record player’ feels electrifying. (But since plugs were not polarized back then, that may be adding to some of my ‘memory electric’).

So, here I am with about three-hundred people: loyal fans of four decade's worth of music (and An Elpee's Worth of Toons). Todd is our number one highest common factor and, per his request, our No. 1 LOWEST COMMON DENOMINATOR (tongue in cheek symbol inserted here. TR fans will understand). We have gathered together on this thirtieth day of January in the eighth year of the third millennium for an up close and personal, “Freeze Your Ass Off” tour. Some of us are seated at tables, others chose to stand, in this big living room atmosphere; drinking, singing, laughing and swaying our hips when we couldn't help ourselves any longer. We converse with Todd from our seats and he banters back at us about our city’s recent embarrassing political scandal, his non-political-non -endorsing-political-views, religion, public MySpace secrets, and other common dinner table conversation topics. He strums his music into existence and sings to us from his soul . . . he is our most gracious and generous host. And, he is a huge talent on a dangerously small stage, as he quickly finds out when “some of his best guitar riff footwork” during “Buffalo Grass” - the first song on the set list - almost sends him into the Snare of drummer Prairie Prince . . . a mere two steps behind him. Todd has always been too big to be limited by space or time . . . too big to be held down by gravity.

His set list included a little something from the past three decades - dating back to 1970 up to the new millennium - with a little more Something/Anything than anything else: He played Black Maria, SLUT, and one of his signature hits; I Saw The Light. As big of a hit as that song was and as much as I loved it back in 1972 . . . nothing has changed. It is a timeless piece of musical beauty and my heart remembered its every note. Todd surprised me with No. 1 Lowest Common Denominator, but not until after he half joked about seeing the young looking “angelic face shoved right up front.” Lowest Common Denominator is a sexually metaphorical song (electric eel and great equalizer) that includes a recitation of an erotic ‘poem of love.’ Todd continues; “I know for a frickin’ fact that this is not an all ages show, ergo, we may speak frankly because the thing I hate is being the first one to give your youngins a talk . . . You’re cramping my style!”

Even though he played for almost three hours, (he really put his heart and soul into his playing - he was energetic, passionate . . . phenomenal on the guitar! He was having a lot of fun with it.) he could not possibly include all of his many songs, or even all of his many hits. He did not have a keyboard with him on stage and did not do some of his pop hits like, “Hello It’s Me,” and “A Dream Goes On Forever,” and “It wouldn’t Have Made Any Difference,” to name just a few. But, we didn’t come to see Todd to hear Todd imitate Todd . . . (that's what separates the real man fans from the boys) for he is in a constant state of metamorphosis and evolution and I’m surprised he even has a set list at all.

He truly is A Wizard A True Star who landed right here at The Magic Bag on the (OOPS) right PLANET, bringing us a glimpse of Utopia and casting his musical spell and wizardry over us - his tireless, faithful fans – by kindly reversing the clock (much like Superman) and restoring to us our youthfulness and our original heads of lustrous, pigmented hair . . . if only in our own minds . . . and if only for one night.

Of course, on stage, Todd could not play every instrument and sing every part himself as he can do in studio and did on three of the four sides of his third solo album: Something /Anything circa 1972. So, he was in the company of three respected, accomplished, talented musicians: Extremely gifted drummer (and artist) - Prairie Prince - who banged out beats for The Tubes; Jefferson Starship, The New Cars and created a solid foundation . . . a canvas for audible art (He has also recorded in studio with Todd and Brian Eno, David Byrne, to name a few); guitarist extraordinaire, performer, educator, author and former music editor of Guitar Player, Jesse Gress who really rocked that stage and impressed all of us with his amazing skill and talent; and bass guitarist – Kasim Sulton.







Kasim (who also blogs a journal ) is highly recognized for his incredible talent as a musician (which is more than obvious when you see him live) singer, songwriter and producer. He has worked with a diverse group of musical artists from Meat Loaf, Patti Smith, Joan Jett and Mick Jagger, to Hall and Oates, Celine Dion, and Patty Smyth. But of course, me being the Todd fan I am, I recognize and appreciate him most for his thirty something years with Todd Rundgren and Todd’s band Utopia. Kasim has a seemingly effortless way of playing . . . as if the instrument is a natural extension of his fingers. He also has a palpable charismatic charm that could do serious damage to the female heart. His name should really be Kasim Sultry . . . because he oozes passion and sensuality. I admit, I was taken by his charm and, of course, his amazing talent, although I tried very hard to resist his hypnotizing eye contact. I won’t say whether or not my efforts worked.

Please, God, I do not want to trade one obsession in for another . . . although, really, I am not obsessed in an unhealthy, crazy way with Todd . . . only another tried-and-true fan would understand my loyalty and passion. By tried-and-true fan, I mean someone who, when they think of TR, the first thing that comes to their mind is NOT only ‘Hello It’s Me.” Like Zappa, Rundgren chose truth to Self and heart over pop culture and top forty. And for that . . . I thank him.


The following is taken from the IMDb website. I do not take credit for the content nor do I take responsibility for inaccuracies. I included it purely for its interesting information.

Mini Biography

Considered by many to be the "Ultimate Rock Cult Hero", Todd Rundgren has maintained a legion of fans through four decades, rivaled only by The Grateful Dead. Todd was raised in the Philadelphia (Pennsylvania) area, and his first professional bands, Money and Woody’s Truck stop, achieved much regional success. It was in the late 1960s, however, that Todd's searing guitar work reached a nationwide audience, in his role as lead guitarist for the blues-psychedelic band Nazz. he wrote and arranged almost all of the work that went into the three albums the group produced. Their music ranged from Southern blues to hard rock to heavily orchestrated symphonies. Nazz broke up in the early 1970s and Todd released two solo albums under the name of Runt. His first big solo success was in 1971 with "We Gotta Get You a Woman" and in 1973 from the double album "Something/Anything?" he scored big on the charts with "I Saw the Light" and a revision of a Nazz song, "Hello, It's Me." Perhaps the superstardom that seemed imminent at this time eluded Rundgren due to his reluctance to be pigeonholed into any single type of music. He still released albums with great love ballads, but they were also laced with heavy guitar rock, and occasionally mini rock operas. Rundgren has scored huge as a music producer, most notably on Meat Loaf's "Bat out of Hell" opus. In the late 1970s and through the 1980s Todd formed the group Utopia, each member an accomplished musician and vocalist. In recent years Rundgren has become a computer enthusiast, marketing many new innovations, some in conjunction with his music. He has also been called on by films and TV for his musical scores. Todd also maintains his own website.

IMDb Mini Biography By: Buxx Bannr

Spouse: Michele Gray



Trivia

Liv Tyler's stepfather.

He was with the rock group, "Utopia".

Co-inventor of the Flowfazer, a computer program that generates visual effects.

Several of his compositions, notably "Hello, It's Me", "I Saw the Light" and "Bang the Drum All Day", are standards known by bar bands across the USA.

Recorded and produced an album entitled "a cappella", which featured only his voice, processed through various electronic devices, to emulate various musical instruments.

Sons: Rex, Randy and Rebop.

Incorporates the song "Bang the Drum All Day" into his concerts, often when the audience is least expecting it.

Since moving to Hawaii, he has taught himself to play the ukulele, joking that "...if you're a musician, it's required by law".

His album "No World Order" has the songs linked together as two long mixes. Because many disk jockeys requested, he released an alternative version of the album, "No World Order - Lite", which has the same songs but mixed as separate tracks.

His album "With A Twist" (a nod to the "retro lounge" movement) features bossa nova versions of his most popular compositions.

Season 1, Episode 1 of "That 70's Show"(1998) known as "The '70s Pilot" AKA "Teenage Wasteland," features a plot revolving around Eric going to see a Todd Rundgren concert in Milwaukee. Two of Rundgren's songs are also featured in the episode, "I Saw the Light" and "Hello It's Me".

He presented the first live nationally broadcast stereo radio concert (by microwave), linking 40 cities around the country, in 1978.

His 1981 "Time Heals," video was the first music video to utilize state-of-the-art compositing of live action and computer graphics. Produced and directed by Rundgren, it became the second video to be played on MTV (after The Bugles' "Video Killed the Radio Star").

He gave the first live national cablecast of a rock concert in 1982, which aired on the USA Network. It was simulcast in stereo to over 120 radio stations.

His creation of the first color graphics tablet in 1980 was licensed to Apple Computers and released as "The Utopia Graphics Tablet."

In 1982 he produced the first two commercially released music videos, one of which was nominated for the first-ever Grammy awarded for Best Short Form Video in 1983.

In 1979 he opened Utopia Video Studios, a multi-million-dollar state-of-the-art facility. The first project produced by Todd there was Gustav Holst's "The Planets", commissioned by RCA Selecta Vision as the first demonstration software for its new videodisc format.

In 1978, he performed the first interactive television concert, broadcast live over the Warner/QUBE system in Columbus, Ohio (the home audience chose each song in real time during the concert by voting via QUBE's 2-way operating system).

BMI Million-Air Awards were also awarded to Rundgren for his other two Top 10 hit records, "I Saw The Light" and "Love Is The Answer".

Digital Hollywood Awards 1996 - Best Music CD-ROM for "The Individualist".

Best Composition Arrangement for "No World Order" from the Interactive Academy in 1994.


Well, this is not the best quality video, taken with my digital camera on Jan 30,2008 at The Magic Bag in Ferndale, Michigan (just outside Detroit). Todd Rundgren, headlining, finally, after years of my waiting in anticipation for his solo return to the stage.(He toured with The New Cars - I saw that show in Nov '06)
I had to move around - get closer to the stage - sing, dance, soak it up...so the video is a bit shaky and the sound is somewhat muffled, but true Todd fans will enjoy it anyway!

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

Your review is wonderfully written, consider sending it to Roger at TReviews@TRConnection.com.

It was a great show in an intimate setting. There are some pics for viewing pleasure at trconnection, Enjoy. JohnY

Mr. Long Island said...

Your beautiful, open & honest review is marred slightly by your description of Prairie Prince as a drummer for "Journey." Perish the thought. Prince made rock & roll history banging the drum(s) for "The Tubes."

Pythia3 said...

Thank you, JohnY, for your comment - it inspired me to add a few more words about the show. Thanks for the advice about the TReviews too.
Peace,
Lindy

Pythia3 said...

I want to thank mr. long island for your comment and correction!!! I really appreciate it.
I did more research and added to Prairie Prince's blurb. I also added some links.
Sincerely,
Lindy

RUNT said...

Hey I can see my wee little head heh!

Anonymous said...

I absolutely loved your TR Connection review of Todd's performance , right
away I was so impressed with your writing but also your honesty about your
feelings about Todd..when you said that about getting the last name
Rundgren...Fantastic, just fantastic... And then when you added about
Kasim, adding him as another obsession...that was really great! Thanks so
much, I really got where you were coming from... And I really enjoyed every
word.
Sincerely, Rebecca ( I saw this tour a few months ago here in
LA...sigh!....)

Anonymous said...

I just read your review over on trconnection, and had to stop by to say Woo Yay, Sister! Thanks for sharing this warm gush of Todd. I simply loved every bit of your experience, and that you passed that smile of his to you to me so well, I am sending it back around.

SB

Michelle's Spell said...

Hey Lindy,

Great writing about the wonderful Mr. R! He's very cool. Love the details about the jean shorts and snake armbands . . . And it's is definitely junior high, never middle school!

Kate S said...

Loved that, Lindy.

Someone else who went to Jr. High. :)
~Kate

Erik Donald France said...

Whoah, Lindy -- loved this. Awesome, intense write up.

May have mentioned, I last saw Todd play with U2 at the very first show of the War tour in Chapel Hill back in the early 80s. Grandmaster Flash and U2 opened for him!

Pythia3 said...

Thanks everyone - thanks for your comments.
Right now I am in LA helping a friend move into her new home and I've been without internet. I will be back on at the end of the week.
I also came down with the flu :(
To all my Detroit friends and readers - it's been 78 and sunny here. I heard it's absolutely freezing in the Midwest . . . so I'm sending you a warm smile :)

Steve said...

Thanks for the review and sharing your personal memories.
I bought A Wizard, A True Star when it came out and have been hooked/addicted ever since. I went backwards to Runt, The Ballad of Todd Rundgren, Something/Anything and bought almost everything TR and Utopia recorded since. Something/Anything is his masterpiece I believe. After a few years away from constant listening I am appreciating his work anew. Jr. High note: I remember a kid writing "Deep Purple" on his notebook!