2 or 3
"INSIDE EVERYONE IS A HEAVY METAL KID"
by Gary Hailey
on and poison all the water, use up all the air
Blow your stupid
heads off, see if I could care
Put me down but don't blame me for
what you did
'Cause inside everyone is a heavy metal kid
The song "Heavy Metal Kids," which included
the lyrics quoted above, appeared on Todd Rundgren's 1974 double
album, Todd. I was still in college when the album but
released, but didn't buy it until I was in law school.
Back in those days, I bought a lot of
cut-out albums. As a few of you are old enough to remember,
record stores used to have bargain bins with LPs that either had a
small hole punched in their covers or had their upper-right-hand
corners cut off.
were cut-outs physically disfigured in this way? Record stores
usually were allowed to return poor-selling albums to record
companies for credit. The record companies would write down
this inventory and re-sell it at a large discount to other
retailers, who would offer it to consumers at half the regular price
or less. The manufacturers would punch a hole or cut the
corner of the cover to prevent the retailer from selling the album
at the regular price.
When I was buying records in the 1960s and
1970s, albums usually retailed for $3.99, $4.99 or $5.99.
First-generation cut-outs would go for $1.99 – a bargain for an
album that you knew had a number of good songs.
I remember buying cut-out LPs for as little
as 33 cents. At that price, you could buy an album that had
only one good song – if you discovered that it had anything else
worthwhile on it, that was like free music.
I probably got the Todd album for $1.99
somewhere in Harvard Square. Given that it was a double album,
that was a great price.
Like most double albums, Todd has a few weak
tracks, but it has a number of good ones – including "Heavy Metal
"Heavy Metal Kids" gets bonus points for
attitude. Like other classic rock songs (e.g., "My Generation"
and "Get Off Of My Cloud" and "(You Gotta) Fight For your Right (To
Party!)" and "Search and Destroy"), it is sung by an angry young man
who is pissed off at just about anyone who is older than he is – but
especially his father.
I'm not sure Todd Rundgren really meant it,
however. The second verse doesn't sound all that serious:
I must have woke up this morning
bug up my ass
I think I'll just haul off and belt
jerk that I pass
My old man says
I'm just a stoned little
But he keeps himself a pistol
And he's always drunk
Note the lines above about the singer's
hypocritical father, which are a precursor to similar lines in the
Beastie Boys' "Fight for Your Right":
Your pops caught you smokin'
And he said
Smokes two packs a day
But the tongue-in-cheekiness level climbs
even higher in the final verse. It's an understatement to
describe this verse as hyperbolic. So I'm guessing that Todd
is having a bit of fun with his audience:
I was a sweet little kid once
Now I'm a
full grown crank
And when I die I'll probably
Come back as a
I know that I could make this world
If I could only get my hands
On a hydrogen bomb
Todd Rundgren is one of the few rock
musicians that I believe fully deserves to be called a genius.
Another example of such a genius is Al Kooper -- both are true
is a very good singer and musician, and he's great songwriter -- he
wrote pop classics like "Hello, It's Me" and "I Saw the Light."
(Rundgren's early songwriting was heavily influenced by Laura Nyro,
so he knew what he was up to from the very beginning.)
But Rundgren is an even greater producer and
recording engineer. He is the brains behind albums as
disparate as Meat Loaf's Bat Out of Hell (one of the ten
best-selling albums of all time) and XTC's Skylarking, which is
subtle and unique and ahead of its time, and which came as close to
being a perfect concept album as any concept album ever released (if
you stop about two-thirds of the way through it).
He also produced albums by the New York
Dolls, Badfinger, Grand Funk Railroad, Hall & Oates (no one's
perfect!), Patti Smith, the Tubes (a personal favorite), Cheap
Trick, and the Psychedelic Furs.
(If you plugged those names into Pandora, I
wonder what kind of playlist you would get? It boggles the
Click here to hear "Heavy Metal Kids."
(Gary Hailey is a father, a lawyer, a
basketball referee, a biker, a voracious reader, and the author of
the wildly popular music blog, 2
or 3 lines. But not
necessarily in that order.)