Monday, February 1, 2016

Todd Rundgren - Something/Anything?

Todd Rundgren's Something/Anything? was pretty much ubiquitous throughout the 70's.  Almost everyone had it, or if you didn't have your own copy, you knew five people that did.  The biggest hit was Hello It's Me, which was probably Todd's biggest hit in his storied career.  I always thought it was interesting that the album had this one massive, mellow hit on it and then when people would buy it, it had three sides of just Todd doing whatever it was he wanted to do, and one side of a very loose studio session (which is where Hello It's Me came from).  Whatever it was, people loved it, though.

I remember a couple of older girls from when I was a sophomore, and they were friends of one of my best friends' older brother.  The one girl lived in an old house owned by a woman who was a councilman in our city, and absolutely one of the coolest old hippie ladies that ever walked the planet. The old house was huge, and the upstairs was a place where girls without families lived.  I don't know if it was a foster thing or what it was, because not all the girls went to my school (even though it was within walking distance).  The girl I knew was Chinese, and I think she had a family, but they were in China.  She had lived in the US for most of her life, I think with an uncle or aunt and I think they died and she wound up here.  She had what these days would be considered a horribly racist nickname, and she was really a cool chick.  She had her own car, got killer grades and worked and I think she paid her own way through college.

Her best friend was my friend's brother's biggest crush.  It really pissed him off the first time we all went to the big house to party and I knew her and got a big hug.  We had a lot to talk about because our fathers were both in the school district athletic department.  We had seen each other at functions for years, and we were close to the same age and most of the other kids that always had to go were much younger.  So we hung out, sneaked smokes and talked about music while pot lucks and awards ceremonies raged in the background.  So we had a lot of catching up to do, and she was impressed that I was good at getting alcohol together, even on weeknights.

My first order of business at any one's house was pretty much to attack their record crate and try not to be too much of a snob about what was in it.  There was a lot of slightly mellower 70's rock, and a lot of Todd.  I always loved Something/Anything? because it was such a sprawling project and it seemed to have either really mediocre songs, or really great ones.  The great ones are unbelievably great, like Couldn't I Just Tell You, I Saw the Light and Black Maria.  I really love Black Maria, and I can remember grabbing the album out of the box, and saying, "Hey, can we play side 3?"  We were all pretty buzzed, and the girls out voted me and stuck on side 4.

So I figured it was because they wanted to hear Hello It's Me, and I'm okay with that. There's some other stuff that's a little raunchy and funny on there, and I'm thinking it will be funny to see what they do when those songs come on.  Because teenage me had no fucking clue that other people actually listened to their albums, just like I did.

So the girls change the lyrics to you Left Me Sore to something I was pretty sure you needed to be a fifteen year old boy to find funny, and were dancing on the bed, spilling beer and ashtrays and singing at the top of their lungs to Slut.  I learned a lot about teenage girls that night.  I learned that I didn't know anything about teenage girls, and that I wanted to know teenage girls like these two.  I also learned that older brothers are dumb and I'm glad I don't have any.

So while I'm listening to my copy I pulled out the insert with the lyrics and personnel on it and I notice that there's a little star drawn next to the titles of some of the songs, like *It Wouldn't Have Made Any Difference and *It Takes Two to Tango (This is for the Girls).  So I bought this one used because that's not something I ever did.  It's funny to see which songs the original owner liked, but better yet on *Black Maria and *I Went to the Mirror written above the * is HEAVY.

These days you may be thinking, "Todd is heavy?"  Not just heavy, but HEAVY.  Back when this was a popular record, heavy meant more than just Black Sabbath or Grindcore or whatever kind of core is heaviest these days.  Sometimes it just meant that it made you think, which is what I think the person that owned this meant I Went to the Mirror was HEAVY.  I don't necessarily agree with them, but I like the commentary from the past.  The records are in good shape, so I think I'd have liked whoever owned this record.

Of course, I'd have liked them more if they danced and sang on the bed in 1977, but for now I'll just thank them for the memories.


  1. Hey 2 -- Yeah, this is a great album. I bought "I Saw the Light" as a single at age 12, years before I knew there WAS an album.
    Probably my favorite is "Saving Grace," which I think should have been a huge hit -- I just love the singalong feel of it, & Todd's claim that it was "a song for our generation." Well, it worked for me, got me through some nasty stretches in the 70s and 80s.
    I'm also a sucker for "Couldn't I Just Tell You," the silly "Song of the Viking," "Dust in the Wind," and the whole studio-jam/fake-rock-opera side. Thanx for writing this up -- you have good taste.

    1. TAD, great to "see" you! Thanks for stopping by and the kind words. I don't know that I have good taste, but I have a bunch of records. Todd eventually loses me, but I like a nice chunk of his output.

  2. Yeezus Keeryst, 2 -- I think I re-read your whole blog this afternoon while waking up and getting ready for work. Come back. We miss you.