Monday, April 17, 2023

Quote of the Day (Todd Rundgren, on His New Non-Musical Sideline)

“I have a vanity line of cannabis coming out. It’s called Hello It’s Weed.”—American rock ‘n’ roll singer-songwriter and producer Todd Rundgren quoted by Nick Paumgarten, “The Talk of the Town: Dept. of Song—Day Job, The New Yorker, Jan. 2 and 9, 2023

When I read this quote from Todd Rundgren, my first reaction was to burst out laughing at the pun on his hit from half a century ago, “Hello, It’s Me.” Then I wondered if he might be pulling Nick Paumgarten’s leg.

It wouldn’t have been the first example of the rock ‘n’ roller’s bent sense of humor. After all, when he issued a quickly produced 1982 album to fulfill his last contractual obligation to longtime label Bearsville Records, he had called it The Ever Popular Tortured Artist Effect, and two years earlier, with his band Utopia, he had titled his parody/tribute LP in the style of the Beatles Deface the Music. It wouldn’t be beyond him to put people on again.

At the same time, the musician has, over the years, made no bones about his extensive use of cannabis. Judging from the crowd at his Central Park concerts in the Seventies, he would have had a ready-made audience for his ventures in this direction.

Well, it turns out that his comments in The New Yorker were true. Back in November, Rundgren announced his new cannabis brand, Hello, It’s Weed, a partnership with Cheef, a cannabis and CBD manufacturer based in Royal Oak, Mich.

I’m not surprised that Rundgren has tried this venture, only that he hadn’t tried it sooner. In his music he has prided himself on being innovative, experimenting with an “interactive album,” for instance, 30 years ago, with No World Order.

On the other hand, cannabis—in case you hadn’t heard—is a field where everyone’s getting into the act. Carving a niche is going to be difficult, so it’s probably wise for Rundgren to keep expectations low, as he indicated to Gary Graff of the Oakland Press late last year:

“I'm not competing with anyone who's already kind of built a little empire around it. We're doing it right now for fun and to see if people respond. And if it does well we'll probably progress."

I suspect that many of Todd’s fans from his early years have moved on with their lives, so the Evil Weed no longer has the transgressive factor that once intrigued them. But I’m not sure it matters to him, anyway, if it ever did. After all, not for nothing did he call one of his recent live CDs The Individualist.

(The image accompanying this post, of Todd Rundgren at Revolution Live in Fort Lauderdale, FL, was taken Mar. 25, 2009, by Carl Lender.)

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