Tag Archives: Todd Rundgren

Of Artifacts & Artists

Lillie P. Bliss was an art collector and patron of artists. Mary Quinn Sullivan was an America art teacher and textbook author. Abigail Green Aldrich Rockefeller was, yes, a Rockefeller; she married John D. Rockefeller, Jr., the only son of the oil magnate.

In the late 20s those three women got together and created the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York, which opened in 1929. According to MoMA, Bliss, Sullivan and Rockefeller wanted to “challenge the conservative policies of traditional museums and to establish an institution devoted exclusively to modern art.”


In 1983 the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Foundation (RRHOF) was established by Ahmet Ertegun. Among other things, he was the co-founder and president of Atlantic, perhaps the most influential rock label of all time; he sold his interest in the label in 1967. He made millions. Not petro wealth. But comfortable.

Joining Ertegun on the board of the foundation were Jann S. Wenner of Rolling Stone; Seymour Stein, who co-founded Sire Records; Bob Krasnow, whose resume includes being the chairman of Elektra Records, and three others.

The foundation decided it needed a home base. It decided on Cleveland, with a groundbreaking in 1993, with participants including Pete Townshend (did he windmill a shovel?), Chuck Berry and Sam Phillips. Architect I.M. Pei was engaged to design the building, which includes a glass pyramid (it is worth noting that in 1983 Pei designed the pyramid that is part of the Louvre).

The building was dedicated two years later, with the ribbon being cut by, among others, Yoko Ono and Little Richard.

Since 1986 the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame has selected inductees. The first class included Chuck Berry, James Brown, Ray Charles, Sam Cooke, Fats Domino, The Everly Brothers, Alan Freed, John Hammond, Buddy Holly, Robert Johnson, Jerry Lee Lewis, Sam Phillips, Elvis Presley, Little Richard, Jimmie Rodgers, and Jimmy Yancey.


When I looked at the women who founded MoMA, I have the sense that they were in it to promote modern art and artists. Let’s face it, in 1929 the world economy was tumbling into a morass that required years to extricate itself from. Perhaps there was some notion of raising the visibility of modern art and thereby increase the value of whatever pieces they may have individually had, but somehow I think there was more selflessness involved.

When I looked at the people who established RRHOF my first sense of things was that this was largely a play to sell more records. But when you look at the lists of the first class of inductees, that clearly wasn’t the way things worked, at least not at the start.

Now I am not so sure.

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It’s Got a Good Beat (17 of them)

Before there was Twitter providing consolidated, concentrated comments, we tried our hand at some haiku—17 syllables, 5/7/5—to make some observations on what was going on.

It didn’t go anywhere.

So given that everything that’s old is still old but can be tried again, here are three, based on Todd’s interview in Variety, the recurring death hoax of a Canadian artist and Irish eyes’ longing. . .

Rundgren is 68:
“And at this point I’m all in”
Is time at his heels?


Area 51
Is relevant to Avril
Because both may exist


U2 Seattle
Add Vedder & Mumford &
Hope for consequence

If Music Be the Food of Love, Get Off the Stage

I have a place where dreams are born
And time is never planned
It’s not on any chart
You must find it in your heart


It was 1972. My hair was long, my waist was thin and I had dark(ish) circles under my eyes from too many weekend nights spent drinking in a dive bar with my friends, smoking too many Kools. I was in a band. I ran what was the school’s “underground” newspaper.

And I had a tremendous crush on a cheerleader. Yes, read the previous paragraph again and put the previous statement into context.

Of course, were that just it, what I had imagined was my Hamlet-like charm (“sicklied o’er with the pale cast of thought”) would have managed that difference in our outlooks.

But there were a couple of other factors that seem, even in retrospect, to be somewhat insurmountable. Sally (1) had a boyfriend who was a year older and, yes, an athlete who didn’t care for me in the least bit for I represented everything that was pretty much anathema to him and (2) her father was the superintendent of schools and the newspaper I was putting out was causing all manner of organizational upset within the administration’s offices.

So I needed a plan. A plan that would get me in her good graces. Get her to realize that her boyfriend was a boor and that her father could just deal with it. Get her to have even a sliver of the feeling that I had for her for me.

And my plan included Todd Rundgren.

Continue reading If Music Be the Food of Love, Get Off the Stage

Todd Rundgren: A Wizard, A True Bore

Todd Rundgren - ArenaTodd RundgrenArena (Hi Fi Recordings)

The phrase “jack of all trades, master of none” describes someone who does lots of different things, all of them adequately, none of them extraordinarily. With few exceptions, those who are good—really good—at one thing, don’t do as well when it comes to others. Think back some years ago when renowned basketball player Michael Jordan decided that he really should be playing baseball. Does anyone even remember what team he played for? Does he?

The jack of all trades is the handyman, sui generis. If you need a new light fixture or a bit of carpentry, you call him in. If you want to have your place rewired or a room remodeled, chances are the jack of all trades is not the person you opt for. If you go to the doctor for an ailment, if it is a run-of-the-mill problem, then she can undoubtedly deal with it, no problem. If it turns out that you have some dread tropical disease, do you really think the general practitioner is the one who is going to provide a cure?

This brings me to Todd Rundgren. Singer. Songwriter. Producer. Multi-instrumentalist. The man can do it all, it seems. And throughout his career, he has created works that are various and varying. Whether it is Philly Soul or Martian Utopianism, Rundgren has done it. He’s performed a capella. He’s performed with a retread version of the Cars.

Continue reading Todd Rundgren: A Wizard, A True Bore


The conceit of this site is that “Rock and Roll Can Change Your Life.” Note well that there is an explicit option expressed; it doesn’t say “will” or “must.” But there is potential. Changing one’s life is not a trivial thing. But it can happen.

Much of what gets essayed here cracks corporate artists or revels in shows seen or talks to/about favorite performers. There’s a lot of examination of socio/econo/politico issues. There are plenty of provocative observations related to the genre. But life-changing? Now, having written my fair share of the aforementioned, know well that if it is at all perceived that aspersions are being cast, I’m in the middle of the net.

So let me relate an experience about how rock and roll changed my life (and it is not about the time when I nearly caught a windmilled Gibson SG in my cranium during a Who concert—although the case about to be relayed was approximately as devastating). And I’d like to encourage you to use the “Comments” section to let us know about your life-changing experiences.

When I was going to high school, I was the kind of guy who would, well, grow up and write for Glorious Noise. My hair was long. I put out an alternative newspaper. Played in a band. (Which played benefit concerts to make the money to fund the newspaper.) Spent plenty of time in the principal’s office (threatening to call the ACLU, so I was suspended less than I might have otherwise been). You get the picture.

For whatever reason—fate, stars, taste, hormones—I tended to have crushes on cheerleaders. Yes, yes, a conventional young male fantasy, I know. Now, I was not what you’d call the sort of guy who’d be in the same area code as a cheerleader. But for whatever reason (see list in previous sentence), this cheerleader, let’s call her Peggy, really had a hold on me (metaphorically speaking, that is).

Let me provide a bit of back story on Peggy. She had two older brothers. Both were letter-wearing athletes. Big guys. Football players. An older sister was also a cheerleader, and a younger one was a pom-pom girl. Her father—and I am not making this up—was the superintendent of schools. Just as the brothers and sisters knew that I was not exactly the team-oriented type, the father was aware of the so-called “underground” newspaper that I was producing. One more thing about Peggy. She had a boyfriend. Who was a couple years older. And tough. I sure could pick ’em.

The heart so afflicted knows no bounds. So one day I asked Peggy to go to a concert with me. And she agreed. Neil Young. Solo in a comparatively small hall in Detroit. This was during the time of a line that was essentially an anthem for my pals and me: “Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere.” If Neil couldn’t help me with Peggy, nothing would. So we went. And while it remains one of the best shows I’ve ever seen, it didn’t move Peggy to recognize that there was something to be said for, well, me. Let’s face it, none of her football-playing friends would take her to see a show like that. It should have been a lock. But mainly what I got for my trouble was a threat from Peggy’s boyfriend. There was a chaste kiss, but. . . .

That is not how rock and roll changed my life. Nothing changed. I still had the crush on Peggy.

Time went on. The newspaper was published. My band played more gigs. The principal became increasingly pissed (our benefit concerts, which included numerous bands because they were friends, were outdrawing the sanctioned school dances). And I still had the crush on Peggy.

I’ve always been a fan of Todd Rundgren. He has written some of the sweetest, most ironic love songs ever produced. He was coming to town. “We’ve got to get you a woman. . . ” Hmm. The tiny demons in my head spun. Of course. I’d take Peggy to see Runt. While Neil is more or less an acquired taste, Todd would naturally be a sure thing. Surprisingly, Peggy wasn’t familiar with his music. (I never said she was particularly bright, she was just goddess-like in appearance.) But she accepted the invitation.

It was the same venue. When we arrived, the stage was set up nearly as it had been for Young. A stool. Young played solo. So would Rundgren. But there was a difference. There was a large reel-to-reel tape recorder next to Rundgren’s stool. My anticipation grew. This was going to work.

And then Todd came out on stage. I—and presumably Peggy—had been expecting something along the lines of Neil: flannel shirt; jeans. But no, here was a guy who weighed about 90 pounds and had a long frame who was dressed in a one-piece red-jump suit. He punched the start button on the tape recorder and Todd began, “I know a place where dreams are born. . . .” And mine died right then and there. Peggy became convinced that I was well around the bend. Here was a skinny long-haired guy sitting next to her who had taken her to see a far-skinnier, far longer-haired guy who was singing Peter Pan’s theme song.

And so rock and roll (OK, he played “Black Maria” that night) helped break my heart.

But it was a hell of a show. Peggy? I don’t know what’s happened to her. I still listen to Rundgren.