Hello, it’s me
M U S I C M O N D A Y ON S A T U R D A Y
CENTRAL PARK 1978
It was July 11, 1978, at a concert at the Wollman Rink in New York’s Central Park, when I first met Todd Rundgren. I was 16 years-old and, at the time, I thought I was hot shit. (I’m just trying to stay in my 16-year-old character, thus the lingo.) Stay with me. Every teen in the ‘Tri-State area’ who had any cool, went to at least a few Central Park concerts each summer. They were sponsored by companies like Budweiser and Dr. Pepper and they were amazing.
As stated in an earlier post about, The Kinks, one of my favorite things to do at rock concerts, other than listen to the music and flirt with guys in my general vicinity, was to challenge myself to get back stage, or, at the very least, to make my way to the front row. My plan involved appearing more sophisticated than my peers. I couldn’t just wear jeans and a tee-shirt, that would never allow for access to the band. Instead, I would wear my lucky concert dress. It was a black Norma Kamali halter dress — it had a tie at the waist and many layers of cotton fabric that fell below my knees. It was my favorite dress ever. I don’t know what happened to it and I have no pictures of it, other than the ones in my distant memory. I’m pretty sure Stevie Nicks would’ve drooled over this dress.
It was always the same. I’d take the train into the city from my Chappaqua suburb, arrive in Grand Central Station and then make my way up Fifth Avenue. Eventually I’d get to the Plaza, which in those days was a fading grand hotel – struggling to keep its grandeur of days gone by. I loved that Hotel. I’d use the marble bathroom on the first floor to freshen up before I actually hit the park. For those of you who don’t know, NYC in the summer can be a sticky, humid jungle. Sprucing up was a must.
Once I arrived at the Wollman Rink I would assess the situation. On this particular occasion, I immediately saw my ‘in.’ The sound guy. (I know, I’m so technical) He was in the tower testing his equipment, or whatever it is they do on those big boards with all the sliding levers. He was a little far off, but if I stood in just the right location I could get his attention. So, I did. I told him that I was Todd Rundgren’s cousin from Texas and was there to surprise him. He was intrigued. Actually, so was I – intrigued with the ease with which I could lie. Not too long after that conversation, Todd Rundgren appeared on stage with his band to do a sound test.
So there’s Todd Rundgren on stage and my new friend gets on his microphone and says, “Hey, Todd, I have a surprise for you. Your cousin, Lisa, is here from Texas.” Mind you, everyone who has gathered for this outdoor concert can hear this conversation. I just stood there, a total liar, waiting for his response – I was about to go down. Instead, Mr.Rundgren was amused and played along, much to my relief. “Oh, Lisa! My mother’s, brother’s, uncle’s, nephew’s daughter! Of course!”
That was a close call. Obviously my lucky dress had worked like a charm. Then, the best part — he asked if I’d like to make my way down to the front row. So I brought my sister and best friend with me (I didn’t mention them earlier because, well, why?) They were in jeans and tee shirts and clearly blew my cover, but by this point it didn’t matter. I had already blown my own cover – and was fully established and exposed as a skilled bull-sh***er. Down we went to the front row. He asked what song I’d like to hear, I chose, “Love in Action.”
After the concert we got back stage and we were put on a permanent guess list. It was crazy cool. I went to a few more Todd Rundgren concerts back then and, yup, I was always on the list. So that’s my story, and I’m sticking with it.
Here are a couple Todd Rundgren songs that you’ll likely be familiar with. He’s a musical genius – I don’t say that lightly. He plays all the instruments on both of these songs – it’s just him solo. The entire album, “Something Anything” is JUST HIM. He’s also a well know music producer.
Great story! You need to revive your rebel streak!
They still do concerts in Central Park, at Rumsey Playfield. (Saw Lyle Lovett and Florence and the Machine there.)
(Lyle was fantastic.)
(Florence was eh.)
(Ben Kingsley’s security was big.)
I’m glad you liked this little tale. I was a major brat.
I saw, Peter Gabriel, Patti Smith, Joe Jackson, The Cars, B-52’s, etc. All in Central Park. I’ve always wondered if they were still doing these concerts. They were awesome. I bet Lyle Lovett was great. He’s a natural for that type of venue.
Hey, I need you to fix my youtube. It doesn’t work when I copy and paste. I’ll write you an email and give you my password – Yes, I trust you completely. Will you see if you can fix it for me? Is that okay?
I love this story! Hello It’s Me is one of my favorites. They play it in the Virgin Suicides (the book’s better of course) movie which is a nice retro movie from back then. Makes me think of Love’s Baby Soft and all that mid-early seventies stuff.
Sandee, you and I are one and the same. The Virgin Suicides is a favorite. Isn’t it just a slice of that life? Love’s Baby Soft is the perfect scent, and don’t forget the Bonne Bell Lip Smackers! Haha! Yeah, “Hello it’s me” is a great song – a little trip down memory lane. Glad you could join me.
What a wonderful story! You really have a brave and inventive adventurous side in there don’t you? It is all about the original approach and freshening up in The Plaza Hotel before you go anywhere to meet any celebrity…and the dress of course. We need to find you a new lucky dress….and maybe a lucky perfume too…. lets go shopping!
The dress is really the star of this story, I must admit. I wish I had a picture, or, maybe better yet, your brilliance, Lanier, in describing the simplest things and bringing them to life. That dress was fabulous. You’re right, I need another lucky dress. Maybe that’s what’s been missing in my life?
The Plaza Hotel always had an elegant ghostly vibe. I’ve always loved hotel lobbies, but the Plaza was just the best. I think it’s location between Fifth Avenue and the Park had something to do with it. There were always so many horse and carriages parked outside, making it even more romantic. My grandmother, in her hey day, actually lived at the Plaza. What a life!
Anyway, I digress… This story offers a little peak into a side of me that, sadly, no longer exists. Life has a way of taking off the sharp edges and refining us whether we want it or not. It is fun to recall, though — even I’m shocked by my total lack of inhibition! Haha!
Now, if only I could remember what perfume I was wearing at the time…? And let’s go shopping!! Count me in!!
Now that is crazy cool.. It’s funny when we look back to what we did at that age we would not allow our girls (or at least i did not allow) to do at that age.. a concert? backstage? oh no.. Those were good times and this is such a cool memory.. I love that song and now I shall be humming it in my head all day…
There was total anarchy in my house. My parents, at that point, were divorced, and wrapped up in their own world. I was captain of my own ship, living by my own stupid rules of conduct.
You’re right, today as parents, we’d NEVER let our children do crap like this. I’ve gotta say, though, it was pretty innocent back stage – just a bunch of people milling around enjoying drinks and hors d’oeuvres. When all was said and done it was more fun to be out front watching the show. 🙂 It’s a great memory and when I think back on it, I can hardly believe I was that girl. 🙂
Woah… That is AWESOME! Dear lord, Lisa, that’s supercool. I like the fact he played along. I’m still stunned… Great story!
It’s a fun story. Unfortunately or fortunately, that side of me is long gone. I was so confident and thought I was too cool for school. I guess for those sorts of things to happen, you have to be a little over the top? haha! Glad you liked it.
I love this story Lisa! I probably would have done something like that too — it is genius! You brought back some wonderful memories from a wonderful time of life!
haha! It’s funny because as I was writing this, I was thinking, “I wonder how Lou Ann will feel about this?” I’m glad it didn’t scare you, but that you could share in the memory of those crazy days. I don’t think that girl is part of me any longer – she needed to be tempered. Life has a way of doing that. Still, it’s a fun story to recall.
Oh Lisa, I love Todd Rungren. What a wonderful adventure and a great memory for you. I love the description of your Stevie dress — such a cool time that era. And youth, when we don’t even think about failing — we just do! Great story — loved it and thanks for sharing it. How fortunate for you that you were able to see so many great muscians in such a lovely setting.
For some reason I thought you’d be a Todd Rungren fan, Brigitte. I don’t think many people are all that familiar with him. The black Norma Kamali dress was to die for. Maybe I could try and find a picture of it somewhere in her designer archives? You would’ve loved it, I’m sure.
That’s so true, what you say about that time in our lives… we don’t even think, we just move forward with total confidence. The world is truly our oyster for that brief period. (We’ll probably never look as good or be as silly as we were back then.) Those Central Park concerts were great, because even if you couldn’t buy a ticket, you could sit close by and enjoy the music.
Yes! Find that dress!! Remember that line in the movie, It’s a Wonderful Life? When Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed are flirting by that big hydrangea bush, the older guy tells him to stop talking and just kiss her! He then says, “Ah youth, it’s wasted on the young.” HA!!
YES!! That’s such a memorable scene – one of my all time favorite movies 🙂
I feel like I should have been born a woman. I missed out on half of life. What happened to the lucky dress?
The lucky dress disappeared. I have no idea what happened to it. It pains me because it was something that today I would put in a frame! haha! It was fabulous.
Be thankful you were born a man – don’t even start me on the many miserable things that women have to deal with. It’s a trade off. And by the way, your life is just beginning. 🙂
Love it……time to unleash the temptress once again….no need to be tempered….lol. Great story 🙂
haha! Who was that crazy overly confident girl?? 😉
No need to be tempered – I’ll take this advice from you Ingrid, only because I know you ‘hang out’ with some nudists. LOL!
One of my favorite stories. It’s so magical. Something I would never do. Something that’s almost impossible nowadays anyway. Band members don’t even do sound checks in front of people anymore..people do it for them! So crazy. Oh well. Too bad the lucky dress isn’t around for me to steal!
Also, Todd is God.
haha! People would have that written all over their clothing – again, reason enough to wear the lucky black dress. You would have loved it. It made my waist look supes tiny.
I was brazen, overly confident – I don’t even recognize that girl inside of me anymore -well, actually, you might have witnessed a bit of her at O’Hare! haha!
As a serious life long devotee of Mr. Rundgren…I believe young Lily said it best, “todd is Go”…any way, you are now my idol.
Much love and many blessings to you, from all of us.
PS – Before we could get little Andy scheduled in for his…ahem, operation…Snowball went into heat…please pray for all of us.
Look at that! Another thing we have in common!
I will keep little Andy and snowball and you and Susie in my prayers. 🙂 ain’t life grand?
“Something/Anything?” is such a brilliant, over-looked album.
I totally agree. I wonder why he never became a more recognizable name? I also like his album Runt, when he was with Nazz. Great music.
Ah the ‘bravado’ of youth.. .. memories….Diane
Haha! I don’t even recognize myself in that girl! Oh, to be young and uninhibited 😉
There we go… You’re flexing those muscles. I love it. May I cordially insist on more like this, please? I think what I just did was a not so subtle form of nagging, but when I see the gift I get greedy for more. Ms. Lisa, I am going to be completely off WordPress for a few days next week but if you ever want to get in touch you’ll find my email address in the comments section of your Dashboard.
Really, really, evocative – I’m impressed.
Vickie, you’re way too kind and generous in your comment. (But, I love you for it!)
I may be out of town this coming week, I’m not sure yet. Either way, I’ll try and drop you a line – I’ll be thinking of you…
Great look into your sassy past Lisa. Loved reading this and picturing you busting loose. I bet this girl is not as lost as you say— maybe a smidgen is still lurking and waiting to be freed?
haha! Perhaps. I’d have to dig deep to find her and spruce up the place, if you know what I mean? 😉
I never did stuff like this ever. Spruce up?? Naaa
My Dear Gripping
You saucy mix!!
I’m sure a photograph of that halter neck number would go down a storm here too!
The Perfumed Dandy.
Tee hee… I was quite uninhibited. I’m not sure where that overly confident girl went…? As Lanier suggested, I may have to find another lucky dress. Wouldn’t life be wonderful if that’s all we had to do to regain our footing – wear some special perfume or find a perfect article of clothing? I looked through pages of vintage Norma Kamali, but had no luck in locating that magic dress.
Have a beautiful day!!
Cool musical shares! Rock on, cutie!
Hey, thanks, Hook!!
You had moxie! I love it. Way to go! I bet – in part – you were (and probably still are) a cutie – and that was part of how you succeeded at this. But your savvy thinking did the rest!
haha! Thanks for the great compliment. Moxie is a great word and probably under used in our society. Back then, yeah, I probably had a little. 😉 I was too confident and uninhibited for my own good. As stated in earlier responses, I don’t know where that girl went. Life has a way of tempering us all. Thanks for such a thoughtful comment. You made my day!
Well, you worked for it! Good strategy and cool nerve. And, quite obviously, he liked what he saw of the long-lost cousin!
haha! Yup, that’s me, “cool nerve.” Maybe just nerve?
I was a silly kid with too much confidence. The retelling of it made me cringe a little.
Shouldn’t have – you were sassy, and it turned out well!
You are the balls! This surprised the hell out of me. I’m dying to hear more of your stories! And Hello It’s Me is one of my all time fave songs. Bravo Cousin Lisa!
tee hee… I was a bit of a risk taker, I gotta say.
“Hello it’s me” is a classic. Such a great 70’s flavor.
Of course part of me cringes a little when I retell this – I was a definitely a brat. 😉
I guess I’ve got some more gripping tales – basically stuff that will embarrass the hell out of me, but worth the effort if I have people telling me, “You are the balls!” haha!
Why would that embarrass you? You need to go find that girl again, she’s got your balls 🙂 xox
What a great story! I want that dress!
Thanks! I wish I still had that dress, it was so cute. Isn’t it weird when clothing disappears? It’s strange, right?
It’s very strange. And my favorite clothes have been stolen: a pin-striped velvet smoking jacket, a brand new bright yellow bikini, and a brand new beautiful raincoat.
The pin stripe velvet smoking jacket sounds so cool. Maybe we should take pictures of our favorite clothes in case they get stolen or disappear. At least that way we can remember them.
Love this! Very cool story! I love that it led to the front row and backstage! The dress sounds fabulous – and very lucky! I attended a few concerts in the park in the mid-80s. Good times!
haha! The story makes me cringe a little, if you know what I mean. Like, what kind of overly confident, bratty 16 year old was I? 🙂
Those summer concerts were great, right? Good times, indeed.
I think it is awesome to remember our 16 year old and bold selves! There are some days I would love that super confidence, no consequences nature again! 😉
Yeah, I think you’re right. Life tempers us and we lose the “bold,” “no consequences” side of ourselves. Now we’re just “moms.” haha! (A different kind of good times, right?) LOL!
Having worked in live music, I have to say 16-year-old Lisa had perfect technique! Getting backstage is an art form. Confidence is key. You will be interrogated at some point, and your response will make or break your backstage success. Name dropping almost always works. The key is to act like you’re supposed to be back there.
Like you, my younger self pulled some backstage stunts. I was the “janitor” once. I was with “so-and-sos production company” another time. I was a volunteer coordinator at a music festival and they gave me a golf cart. Let me tell you, if you can get a golf cart, you can go anywhere.
Great story! So are you really Todd Rundgren’s cousin? 🙂
Haha! No, I’m not. You and I are very similar in our concert going tactics. I’d always find peripheral people to befriend. I really had to keep my cool and act like I wasn’t your average concert goer. Usually I was pretty lucky. I love the janitor, and assigning yourself “volunteer coordinator.” Brilliant. The golf cart is the best, though. If we had ever gone together we would have made an awesome tag team. Obviously, your bull shitting is on par with mine. You have my respect. 😉
“I really had to keep my cool and act like I wasn’t your average concert goer.” Another pertinent observation. The gatekeepers can easily identify the difference between the overly enthusiastic fan and the person backstage acting somewhat annoyed that they have to be there. Cheering or clapping is not advisable. Even though you really want to freak out and high five everyone around you. The volunteer coordinator thing was an actual gig. I was just surprised they gifted me with a cart for the entire weekend. Success. I took full advantage of that situation. Even had it stolen by one of the headliner bands, but that’s another story.
Well, well well, aren’t we just the coolsters. The volunteer coordinator sounds awesome. You probably even had some sort of identification badge around your neck, right? Sometimes I would study those things and think to myself, “Next year, I’ll craft my own and no one will be the wiser.” haha!
Lisa, what a great story!! That one is hard to top, miss!! That’s cool Todd went along with the story and that you ended up on his guest list at his OTHER concerts! I remember these songs but I didn’t know it was Todd Rundgren! But oh yeah, I do remember them all right. Thanks for the memories.
You devil, you!
haha! Who, me?
Sorry dear , you mean 1979 . I was @ the 1978 show on August 21 ,
1978 Monday Night . Michael Stanley was the opening Act .
I’m turning 52 this July. My memory is not great, so I had to look up the possible dates from the Dr. Pepper series. I attended many a concert in Central Park during 78′ and 79′. Mr. Rundgren performed with Utopia on this occasion, and the album featured was, “Hermit of Mink Hollow.” That much I know. I also saw him at a race track in New York, not too long after that, and sure enough, found myself on the backstage guest list based on my earlier experience. Thanks for the important correction.
Oh, and don’t call me, “dear.” I hate that.