Monday, October 13, 2008

It's finally here

Earlier this week, Noel turned to me and said, "It's going to be a big week for Donna on Popless."   The T's are in full swing on the alphabetical order as the year shades into gone.  And that means it's time for Todd Rundgren and Tom Petty, two of my favorite musicians of all time.  Well, let's amend that.  I love Tom Petty with a great and passionate love, but Todd Rundgren is part of my identity.

So I wait all week with bated breath to see what Noel will write about them.  This week's Popless goes up on the site late this afternoon, and I read through the entries while waiting to be picked up and taken to dinner.  

It was really a foolish vigil.  How could anybody sum up Rundgren and what he means to me without writing a dissertation? Obviously any fan as fanatical as I've been for decades is far too close to the subject to have any chance of understanding what the music might actually mean in a larger context. I have to say, Noel comes much closer than I ever could with this closing thought:
He's recorded a lot of adventurous, even groundbreaking albums, and he's established a public persona as a longhaired mad genius, and yet Rundgren's actual music is often aggressively uncool. He's like one of those sci-fi/RPG geeks who's cultivated a sense of personal style and has become the alpha geek of his tribe, yet is still out of place among regular folk. Then again, a lot of my closest friends are exactly those kinds of geeks, so over time I've developed a sense of affection and even protectiveness towards Rundgren. It helped that I began to hear in albums like Hermit Of Mink Hollow and The Ever Popular Tortured Artist Effect the sound of the true '80s pop—simple, buzzy, open—from those few glorious years before Trevor Horn, Arthur Baker and Mutt Lange screwed everything up.
There are only a few comments by that time I leave the office to get some Mexican food with the family, mostly about whether Tom Petty is any good or not.  (I had this discussion with Noel around the time he appeared on the Superbowl halftime show; "I hope this lays to rest the question of whether Tom Petty is in the canon," I think I said.)

When I got back into the office, where I've got ninety minutes or so to blog and work before it's time to show tonight's foreign film, there were 133 comments.  I read them.  Nobody mentioned Todd Rundgren.*

Is it wrong to feel rejected?

*40 minutes later, one brave soul has taken a stand, as follows:  
My secret crush and my publicly-avowed musical love. Discovered him in college and never stopped listening, even though I find myself occasionally mentally fixing his lyrics, as I'm sure he now wishes he could do. What complete oddness and sweetness. I adore Zen Archer and Does Anybody Love You? He's a genius producer too.
Thanks for the support, commenter-whose-pseudonym-is-too-crass-to-repeat-here.

1 comment:

Eric Grubbs said...

Since I prefer to leave comments on your blog instead of in the A.V. Club's comment section, let me let my inner-nerd rip:

I didn't take Todd seriously for years because all I knew of him was "Bang On the Drum All Day." Then, about five years ago, while working at an oldies station, I heard "Hello It's Me" -- the single edit version, and definitely not the Nazz version. I got out of my seat and went straight into the control room. It was like a tractor beam effect.

Since that moment, I've been a Todd Rundgren fan.

A few days later, I borrowed a two-disc compilation mainly consisting of his 70s work, along with some Nazz and Utopia stuff. A few months later, I got the Go Ahead. Ignore Me two-disc set. Other than the Nazz anthology, that's all I have of his stuff. However, I cherish those songs.

When I hear songs like "We Gotta Get You a Woman" and "Hello It's Me," it reminds me of the soft rock I grew up on in New Orleans. Of course, I never heard a Todd song until many years later. Still, there's something that rings really true for me with beautifully layered pop with great, honest and clear singing.