Tim Steil Takes The Musical Challenge: Todd Rundgren’s “Something Anything”
When I was in sixth grade, I was at the point where all young striplings come to. Your voice sounds like someone is strangling a squirrel, there is a notable forestation in your Panama Canal zone, and all of a sudden someone comes along and just smacks you in the face like a cold haddock.
She was a seventh grader, who came from the other side of town. You know, about 3/4 of a mile away. Just frickin stunning, blond hair, looked like she should be in a shampoo commercial, with sunlight streaming through her hair. The fact that she was, sort of ahead of the developmental curve as compared to others both confused and scared me a little. I was verklempt.
I couldn’t even speak around her. i think I said “Hi” or something like that, but otherwise it seems my mouth and butthole just clamped up shut if I as much as saw her in the hall. Then one day…?
I’m standing outside the bandroom drumming against the wall with my 7a Nylon tips, on the last day of school, and she walks up, and grabs me by the arm, both hands on my right arm. Both hands! It felt like an electric shock.
She says, “Hey, I just wanted to tell you that we are going on vacation for a couple weeks, so I won’t be around, I mean, if you ever wanted to get a hold of me.”
That’s the haddock in the face. I just thought “Holy Shit! She is vaguely aware of my existence.” Well I just did not know how to process that shit. But I swear, after she turned and left, I was kind of pimp walkin, saying “Dyn-No-Mite!” You know the feeling.
I had recently got my first drum set, a piece of shit I got horribly ripped off for, but what the hell?
A day or two later, my job detasseling corn had been rained out. A beautiful warm summer rain, sky grey and temp that felt like bathwater. With nothing better to do, I put on this album, turned it up as loud as it would go, and started drumming loud and singing along.I swear the rain pounding outside almost sounded like applause.
It became one of my favorite albums ever, for both one song, and the notion that one guy with a little talent and a decent recording rig could just play all the instruments himself, and make magic like that.
That’s something I have done since HS, screwing with tape decks, recording music.You should hear my demos, but not after you’ve just eaten.
As a sort of coda, I was standing in a bar, the night before Thanksgiving 1987, and I turn around, and guess who just walked in?
A little older, just like me, but I recognized her at once, and almost involuntarily called out her name. She looked at me and smiled and said, “Tim?”
Long story short, we actually dated for a few months, or maybe a year or whatever. It was just so wonderful, having that true friend from childhood.. That we could just sit and laugh for hours, and then, you know. I suppose I grinned inside a little when she said “I don’t even want to know where you learned THAT!”
It ended weakly, I remarried, she remarried and we’ve been through hell and back, but we always know under it all we had that bond and could always count on each other to lend an ear.
Some of you who know me closely might know who I am talking about, but a nod is as good as a wink to a blind horse here. Don’t be a snitch.
I still can’t listen to this song without feeling those hands on my arm in 6th grade, or recalling how beautiful she looked in a ratty bathrobe with the morning sun behind her.
Everyone should experience that kind of love in their lives, and maybe when shit gets sideways rotten, you have a memory and song, and a promise to hold onto, to remember better days, and your better self.