Ramblings Of A Rock Star And Individualist: Todd Rundgren’s Book The Individualist – Digressions, Dreams & Dissertations. 

Todd Rundgren's book The Individualist - Digressions, Dreams & Dissertations. 

Photo: Carl Lender [CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)]

I just finished reading Todd Rundgren’s book The Individualist – Digressions, Dreams & Dissertations.  Many of us here in classic rock history.com are also musical artists. Being a musical artist, a writer, a singer, a musician makes us hesitant to criticize other artists. We have all felt the sting of a critic or a heckler in the audience and it just doesn’t feel good. I mean how many times does a musician have to hear “when is the band coming on.” while they’re on stage or “how about that jukebox? So in the end, if there is an album or any other other artistic release that we don’t like, we just ignore it.

We don’t review a lot of books on classic rock history for various reasons. There are some books that writers here have really enjoyed. Everyone loves Keith Richards Life book and even Sammy Hagar’s book Red was quite entertaining. Perhaps our favorite book that we ever reviewed was Babysitting a Band On The Rocks written by G.D. Praetorius. 

Let’s get back to the whole purpose of this article. While reading Todd Rundgren‘s book I kept wondering why Todd Rundgren had written the book in the first place. There was this vibe throughout, the sort of sense that I got that he really didn’t want to write a book. It read as if he was almost being forced to do so. Did he write the book because no one buys music anymore and rock legends no matter how much money they may have made still need to generate income. Or, did he really want to tell his story for family or other personal reasons? Was it that he just wanted to tell his story his own way before someone else went and did it without his involvement?

There are many brilliant artists who just don’t like to talk about themselves, yet somehow want their story told but of course in their own words. Furthermore as in Todd Rundgren’s case not just in his own words but in his own way. You may love the way Todd Rundgren composed this book. Then again you may find yourself scratching your head saying WTF?

Todd Rundgren book is perfectly titled. At times, especially in the beginning, it reads like a story. However, throughout most of the book it reads like a rock and roll star hanging out in a bar having conversations. Each page seems to be its own conversation that begins and ends usually within three paragraphs and then it’s on to something completely different. Even the typeface changes from page to page. There are also so many typos, misspelled words and incorrect use of punctuation. There did not seem to be a professional edit of the book before publication.

The book is more comparable to a diary then a story or even biography. That’s okay if there were actually more details in one of those little tiny one-page chapters. Yet, Todd Rundgren holds back and reveals very little for the most part. Now that might be because he’s respecting the privacy of the individuals he has worked with and produced or he just feels it’s not our business to know anything about his recording sessions with Grand Funk or Meatloaf or countless others he had produced. And then again, maybe he just does not recall many of those situations.

In interviews, Todd Rundgren has described his book as being filled with 183 chapters. Supposedly, the book was written so that anyone could open it to any one particular page and be satisfied while reading only that one page. If the person enjoyed that one particular page, maybe they would move on and try some other pages. If not, close the book and never look at it again. It’s an interesting concept but it’s not completely original. There have been people who have taught that writing style for years. There have been millions of books published in the short story format. However usually the short stories last longer than three paragraphs. Todd’s book is more like watching youTube. Watch the video and scroll through channels until you find something else that looks interesting and only requires one to spend a few minutes immersed in that particular clip.

He has admitted he doesn’t like writing and was never really too good in secondary school. Well that’s Rockstar 101. Most musicians going into the rock and roll world are rebellious and never really did good in high school.

Listen, we love Todd Rundgren music. There is no doubt that he is a musical genius who has brought so much joy to music fans over the past 50 years. Consequently his musical career has crossed so many genres as both a writer and producer. Todd Rundgren could compose the most sweetest beautiful pop song that you ever heard and then switch gears and compose the most radical, raucous rock and roll progressive rock song of all time. Not many musical artists could make that work so well.

We just wish that he went into more detail about his experiences as a producer. He only spends a page on the Meat Loaf Bat Out of Hell record. He describes who plays on the record as half E Street Band and half Utopia. Well most of us Classic Rock Fans already know that. We read the credits, we read who played on it.

We wish that he had actually went into more detail about the Bad for Good album that Rundgren calls a disaster. Well, why was it a disaster ,what happened? What was it like recording Jim Steinman on vocals instead of Meat Loaf  on vocals for that record. It would have been really interesting to read more about his experiences working with Hall & Oates, Grand Funk, Badfinger, The Tubes and all those great rock and roll legendary artists that he sat in the studio with producing their music and creating some of the greatest rock and roll of all time. These are the stories I was hoping to read about when I purchased the book. It’s also interesting how he criticizes the band Ten Years After but never goes into detail as to why he thinks so negatively about the band.

Todd Rundgren’s book The Individualist – Digressions, Dreams & Dissertations is a book that we were so excited to get our hands on. We were hoping to read all about Todd’s incredible accomplishments throughout his career. The book has some incredibly interesting moments and does deliver on many details about his personal life especially with Bebe Buell. Is that a reflection of reality tv culture? We don’t really think Todds that type that would follow any sort of cultural movement. In the end, this is not a bad book review, it’s just an argument that we wish Todd Rundgren would have opened up a but more about hs musical experiences. That is why we brought the book in the first place. A book that we still would think is worth owning despite its shortcomings.  



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