A friend of mine was recently in receipt of a neighbor's album collection, about a hundred twenty, mostly good condition stuff from the seventies and eighties. The neighbor was probably closer to my age than my friend, judging from the vintage and the slant of the collection. There was obvious stuff like Led Zeppelin (III with the wheel, In Through the Out Door undisturbed by water), the Who (Sell Out and Magic Bus on Decca, and solo works like Two Sides of the Moon and the Roger-as-centaur Ride a Rock Horse) and David Bowie (original The Man Who Sold the World and its hideous RCA reissue); and there were some less obvious ones, like Ooh-La-La by the Faces with the squeeze-in cover and Helluva Band, an Angel album I confess I didn't know existed.
There was also a nice bunch of Todd Rundgren albums, most of which I owned at one point or another. Just out of habit, and since my friend was asking what was interesting and potentially valuable among the records there, I fished my hand into the sleeve of Todd, the 1974 double album set whose best-known song may be "A Dream Goes on Forever". The poster was still inside, slightly tape-aged in the corners but in good condition otherwise.
I explained to my friend that there had been a postcard in the prior album Todd had done, A Wizard, A True Star. The request was for people to send the postcards to Bearsville Records, and that they would get used in some artistic way.
Sure enough, next album, there was a poster included with the music. One side had a picture of Our Todd, with the feathery hair and the psychedelically decorated Les Paul SG. The lyrics were on that side too.
Flip the poster over, and there are all the names from the postcards, assembled to resemble from a distance the image of Todd Rundgren. Thousands of names, it would seem. Clever art from a clever company during an incredibly creative time.
I point out my name, faint as it is. My friend is amazed that it's there, some thirty-three years later. It somehow connects me into some other world for him, the world of vinyl and packaging and records with posters or that have zippers on them. I feel slighly like a relic and I start home in my wheeled reliquary.
On the way home, I wonder about all the other names on there. What have they done with their lives since they mailed in their postcards? Are they still listening to Todd records, or mp3's? Could we all ever find each other again, and would we fit in the same room?
I only know a couple of names on there, but then I have never read the whole list. I'm sure it'd be surprising who's on there.
Todd was a huge hero of mine and my friends when we were teens. We loved his hits and we loved his non-hits, from Nazz on through. We saw him open for Free and Alice Cooper in Greensboro, and we got to talk to him. I gave him a quarter for having covered "Under the Ice" in one of my bands. We loved his glossy production of Dolls and Grand Funk alike. Hell, he engineered Stage Fright! That he employed Soupy Sales' sons from Tony and the Tigers as his rhythm section only endeared him to us more. Todd could do no wrong for a long time.
Somewhere along the line came Utopia, and though some of us saw him at Dorton Arena with the early version of that band, it never coagulated for some of us old fans, unfortunately, and we moved on to other sounds.
But tonight I found a random verification of my teen life once again, there on a poster, three decades later.