Friday, March 14, 2008

Can We Still Be Friends, Todd Rundgren (1978)

My sister, who is 4 years younger than I, likes to remind me that the baby boomer years covered people who were born as late as 10 or 12 years after I was. The early-60s songs weren't really part of her experience, while the mid-to-late 70s songs bookended her college years. Her point? I don't have to cut off my song selections at 1974 just because that's when I turned 22 and got a real job. It's all still baby boomer music.

So I'm leaping far ahead in time, to 1978, to pay homage to one of my favorite songs by the mondo-talented Todd Rundgren. A musician of extraordinary virtuosity with a lush voice who also wrote, arranged and played all the instruments on his solo records, in Can We Still Be Friends Rundgren created a song of haunting beauty, a window upon the desperate sadness one feels when a relationship hits the skids but a life without that other person in it at all is unfathomable.

Throughout his entire career, Rundgren has been a trailblazer. Also in 1978, he pioneered the first interactive concert, wherein subscribers to the cable TV experiment Warner/QUBE could vote, in real time, for the songs he was to perform. This happened in Columbus, Ohio, where QUBE debuted, and where I lived at the time. Unfortunately, I didn't have the service, which was pretty pricey for that era, so I didn't get to experience this. His Time Heals video was the second video played on the fledging cable network MTV in 1981. Check this out to see all the other milestones, and what he's up to now.

If you can find it, grab the double-live album Back to the Bars for a great sampler of Rundgren's best work through the 70s, with and without Utopia. I don't usually like live albums, but in this his humor, musicianship and gorgeous voice lure me again and again.


Mombi said...

I don't know what else to say other than I friggin' love Todd Rundgren. This makes me want to go on a Todd binge and sing in my car for a good 2-3 days.

wendy said...

I hear ya, Mister Sister. Back to the Bars is getting a major workout. As is the youtube link in this post. Maybe we should try to find a Cars concert now that Todd's replaced Ric Ocasek.