My Top 1000 Songs #334: Fallen Down
Do you have any totally random childhood musical memories that still haunt you for inexplicable reasons?
I'm guessing it was around 1976, when I was 10 years old, not long after I had started listening to Top 40 radio and gotten pretty deep into my absolute obsession with music. My dad had taken me to a barbeque one of his work friends was hosting. I wasn't terribly excited to be there, wasting a sunny weekend afternoon with a bunch of people I didn't know, so he let me hang out in his car for a little bit listening to the radio--my happy place. And I think that's where I first heard Todd Rundgren singing "Hello, It's Me."
Now, it's a fine song, don't get me wrong. I've come to enjoy a lot of Rundgren's early 70s, sublimely mellow stuff (some of which may surface in these parts down the road, albeit not that one). But at the time, it was way too schmaltzy for me (I was much more into bands like Sweet and Queen by then, so, hey, maybe I wasn't the best arbiter of taste).
Anyway, for whatever reason, that memory stuck with me, buried deep, not something I really thought about again.
Until 1992, when I bought Rise Above, the debut solo LP from the late Epic Soundtracks. He'd been the drummer for experimental art-punk band Swell Maps, not really my cup of tea, but I'd read some interesting reviews, suggesting it was lovely, piano-driven singer-songwriter pop, totally distinct from his prior career, that just happened to feature guest appearances from members of Sonic Youth and Dinosaur Jr.
And when I cued up the opening track, "Fallen Down," what came out was something wholly unexpected... gentle, pretty, almost schmaltzy yet soul-drenching 70s pop like I'd heard in the car that sunny afternoon, a bored pre-teen seeking refuge from a dreadfully dull grown-up party. And this time it was magical, a teary-eyed love song with piano and orchestration and the sort of sound inimical to a 10-year-old kid falling in love with electric guitars but just right for older, settled-down, afternoon-barbeque-attending me.