Todd Rundgren "The Hermit of Mink Hollow"


Today’s Cool Album of the Day (#1003 in the Series) is Todd Rundgren, The Hermit of Mink Hollow.

If I ever opened a pub, I always had in mind to call it the Mink Hollow. And there alongside music and sports memorabilia would be some kind of musical device that would be able to play Todd Rundgren and Utopia songs. Especially from this particular masterpiece.  Kind of in the same way it is hard to name a favorite Beatles song or album, it can be of equal challenge for me to name my favorite Todd work. But really this has always been my personal favorite, maybe because it was released just before I turned 16 and was in the midst of becoming capable of feeling pain and melancholy, more likely because it was at a time when I caught Todd live every single time he came to town, which back then seemed quite often. But mostly because this is an absolute wonderful piece of music that I played so often, I had to replace the vinyl.

It is pretty short as records go, 11 songs, 34:50. But every song carries a lot of meaning. I wondered what it meant when each side of the record was labeled, “The Easy Side” and the “The Difficult Side”. Was it side A was easier for him to write, or easier for us to listen to? That didn’t make that much sense, since because there are more emotional songs on side one, like the obviously personal greatest break up song ever, “Can We Still Be Friends” (the answer is almost always no). I was very disappointed to find out the record company Bearsville relisted the songs in a more pop friendly sequence as they rejected Todd’s track listing as too haphazard (this explains why the songs are out of order on the back of the album jacket, that was Todd’s original track order). It surprises me that a record he wrote, produced and played on his own, a true solo record, he would relinquish the rights to track order, but maybe I am thinking too much about it.  The record company may have made a good decision, as I always felt the record flowed quite well between upbeat (“All the Children Sing”), to the next two sad tracks, to the meaningful (“Too Far Gone”), to the meaningless (“Onomatopoeia”- formation of words in imitation of natural sounds, or better put, words whose sound suggests the sense, so it actually has great meaning!).

“Determination” was always my favorite and I never saw him play it live, even if does sound more like a Utopia song than any other here. “You Cried Wolf” was the number I played most of for others and was most likely to put on one of the million mix tapes I have made for others.  Each of these songs was filled with emotion and meaning and so you are better served listening to the record as a whole and not trying to over think the lush beauty of the natural talent of the artist. By the time “Lucky Guy” finishes, “Out of Control” is just what the record needed, with a return to the perfect Rundgren sound contained in his previous 8 releases. So what does it all mean? What’s it all about? I have to admit it caused me to ponder and at the end of the day, it was a power pop record that he recorded when he was left alone and living on Mink Hollow Road in Western New York. Still it’s one of the best records in my collection.

— John Driscoll, Chicago, Illinois, USA

EDITORS NOTE:

Hermit of Mink Hollow also had an fun moment in the sitcom 30 Rock.

In the Episode titled  “The C Word,” the character Frank says that this is his favorite Todd Rundgren album.  Show runner Liz Lemon tries to tell Frank that someone’s insulted her with a word that “rhymes with your favorite Todd Rundgren album” expecting him to name Runt. Frank responds: “It rhymes with The Hermit of Mink Hollow?

Track Listing

 Side one – The Easy Side

  1. “All the Children Sing” – 3:08
  2. “Can We Still Be Friends” – 3:34
  3. “Hurting for You” – 3:20
  4. “Too Far Gone” – 2:38
  5. “Onomatopoeia” – 1:34
  6. “Determination” – 3:11

Side two – The Difficult Side

  1. “Bread” – 2:48
  2. “Bag Lady” – 3:13
  3. “You Cried Wolf” – 2:20
  4. “Lucky Guy” – 2:04
  5. “Out of Control” – 3:56
  6. “Fade Away” – 3:04

Personnel

  •  Todd Rundgren – Arranger, Instruments, Producer, Vocals.

Links

Listen to the full album below via the playlist


Here’s Todd and Daryl Hall on “Can We Still Be Friends.”

Posted by Larry Carta

2 Comments

  1. Vaughn Abbott (30 Jun 2012, 8:47)
    Reply

    I always thought Bearsville Records was Todd’s own label? Maybe he was goofing with the switched around track order and if you re-sequenced it then it would become the EASY and DIFFICULT sides. Who knows?
    That said, I’ve always loved this record, upon release it seemed as if it was given an unceremonious reception. “Can We Still Be Friends” is, however, probably one of his most recognizable songs along with the novel yuppy song “Bang on the Drum.” I love the overall sound of the record which is very loud and high end. It is the defining moment in the Todd production template to follow. Just listen to how much his stamp is on The Tubes album REMOTE CONTROL that he helmed.
    Also, his choice of song topics were weren’t the flavor of the day…yet. “Bread” and “Bag lady” were some of the first songs from a mainstream (was Todd ever mainstream) artist that addressed hunger and the homeless
    My personal favs are “Too Far Gone,” Determination” and “You Cried Wolf.”

  2. Mick The Maag (22 Aug 2012, 23:35)
    Reply

    Too Far Gone… was such an incredible song to me off of this album.. That feeling that It was me against the world… that i couldnt let myself get That Far Gone… Just a reminder… keep everything above water and never Stop. Let me to the tune DETERMINATION which I fed myself endlessly while singing that song in my head.. and I never Gave Up… as I will continue to Never Give up… Most of the rest of the album was either soothing to my thoughts or close enough to my thinking to think it was about me… “Lucky Guy” No matter what anyone else ever thinks.. that song was all about me… LOL… Yeahhhhhhhh Determination.. got to show me… Dont ya break down on me….

    Bottom line.. I am one of the masses that have been touched by the Master Mr. Rundgren and am damn proud of it.. will see you again at the Cleveland Agora in Oct 2012… One more hungry mouth to be fed….



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