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Revelations from Todd Rundgren

9 January 2009 No Comment

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Todd Rundgren’s new album was inspired by touring and his thoughts on militarism.

Not just his songwriting and recording methods, though those, too, are unorthodox. It’s the whole music business-pop star arrangement, which is based on musicians determined to hit the Top 40 and then doing it again and again — with occasional artistic detours — that he’s subverted.

He likes it that way. He describes the creation of his music as “very plastic,” in the sense of flexible: He creates songs in the studio, piece by piece, and “it allows me to edit the stuff practically all the way up to the final mix process.”

One can easily look at his career the same way, with the detours having been the point of the journey.

“It’s unconventional, but if you have those tools available, it becomes the logical way to do things,” he said of his creative process.

Rundgren’s new album, “Arena” (Hi Fi), sounds like a throwback to his more song-friendly works, which was (mostly) deliberate, he says. The album’s 13 power-chord rockers are a tip of the guitar to his recent touring with the New Cars (filling in for Ric Ocasek) and his subject matter, militarism and “what I saw as a loss of masculine integrity,” he explained.

“The people who have been running the country are liars and cowards and hypocrites and perverts,” he said. “And I wouldn’t want all the rest of the men in the world to think that’s how you succeed in life. Now that they are out of here, we have to … reclaim what our traditional ideals were: You protect the weak, you bear up under the horrible burdens, and you seek the truth. … You sacrifice for others.”

Not exactly Top 40 material, but in Rundgren’s career, it’s the Top 40 hits that have been accidents.

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