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.