Four guys in New York Yankees gear, sitting in upper boxes right behind home plate in Yankee Stadium, drinking beer and being "those" guys. It was 1987, and Rickey Henderson was leading off in the bottom of the first inning. The jeers were brutal. The game didn't even start...really. Lots of "you sucks," and "your dones" before anything really began. This display of appalling behavior grew more visceral with each of Rickey's at bats.
Nine innings might as well be 40 years, when your team can't seem to hit that homerun when you need it. I can't recall the actual set up in the 9th, but for innings one, three, and seven, Rickey's whiffs and poofs made the stank of the Bronx River Avenue subway station almost fruity. The 9th was a fairy tale. I don't remember details, but you can set it up yourself. Anything will do. Rickey's up for one last time, and those guys...drunker...continue.
"You're finished Rickey!" "Its over!" "MARY!"
(Yeah. "Mary." I heard it. I swear. Probably, a few more "you sucks," too. I can't confirm.)
Rickey won the game. One of the 4 guys went berserk. He removed his Yankees windbreaker to reveal an official Rickey Henderson, Oakland A's jersey. He was screaming and flailing so hard, he almost spilled his 6th beer. It was tough love for the first 3 at bats. It was true love and respect in the end.
And then there's Todd Rundgren.
I think I've finally and satisfyingly made it through the "five stages" of Todd Rundgren Grief.
DENIAL: "No World Order"
This 1993 foray into electronica, rap, and interactive entertainment had its moments of pure Todd. But no matter how many faithful stabs I made at trying to embrace this music, I couldn't. I always found myself thinking, "I guess 'Bang On The Drum All Day' isn't that bad." Innovative? Maybe. Unpleasant? Most definitely.
ANGER: "The Individualist"
More rap and more frustrating. There were spectacular songs here, sabotaged again by something the man wasn't born to do. Rap.
FYI: I really don't want to hear The Beastie Boys doing Philly soul ballads either. It's not about rap, which I enjoy. It's about Todd Rundgren rapping, which I don't.
BARGAINING: "Live From Daryl's House"
Two episodes of Daryl Hall's groundbreaking webcast found two old Philly friends wearing very comfortable shoes. The result was some of the best music either artist had produced in years. Sure, it was old material, but it was inspired. I'd give anything to hear a new collaboration.
The nadir of my hero's output. Soulless and uninspired techo-takes on songs the man had produced for others. This might have worked with a band and some guidance and...well...a record label that cared. I don't blame the man so much. We work because we need to work. But I still don't like it. Actually, I don't don't like it. I hate it. Like, it really makes me miserable. That type of don't like.
ACCEPTANCE: Todd Rundgren. A Wizard. A True Star. A man that has inspired me in more ways than I could or should divulge.
Todd Rundgren is 63 years old. He has paid his dues and I'm happy that he still makes music. Any music. The Utopia reunion shows of 2011 were a dream come true for the late, great Moogy Klingman, not to mention so many fans. I saw two of them. One with Moog and sadly, one without. I'm critical. And sometimes, I'm an asshole. But like Rickey Henderson's fans at Yankee Stadium, I just wanted what I knew was there. I just wanted to not only be reminded, but see up close and in person, why I loved Todd Rundgren in the first place.
Then there's this:
From 9/24/11, this is Todd Rundgren with the Metropole Orkest.
40 years after its intial release, "Wailing Wall" from Todd's second album, "The Ballad Of Todd Rundgren," gets a Bacharach makeover. I'll keep to myself just what it did to me on the first listen. (Second listen, too.) It may not be perfect, but it is what it is. I think that's what is most satisfying.
I do hope Todd Rundgren happens upon something to inspire a new record of original material. 2005's "Liars" was a critical success, and a personal fave. Whatever's next, I am ready. I'm retiring from giving the man a hard time.
"You can say what you will about me
talk is cheap and I don't mind
When you lay your life down in them grooves
you know you're bound to get scratched up sometime"