Thursday, January 27, 2022

Boss: Bang The Drum All Day

Todd Rundgren: Bang The Drum All Day

Unless a song immediately jumps into my head when our theme is announced (or if I had one in mind when I suggested a theme), my first move is to do searches of my iTunes library. Yes, I’m an owner, not a renter. I was unimpressed by the songs that had the word “Boss” in the title (and didn’t want to write about a Bruuuuuuuuce song). You may know that there’s a site called, where you can search for words in lyrics, and narrow by genre and other filters.  It's a godsend for music bloggers, believe me. 

I powered through the filtered list (you are welcome to speculate as to what genres I chose, and which I excluded) and came up with a bunch of really good songs to write about. And because in situations like this, I like to write about artists who I haven’t posted about before, one song became the obvious choice—Todd Rundgren’s “Bang The Drum All Day.” Not only is it a great, fun song, but as I’ve mentioned here, I’m a bad drummer, and frankly would prefer to bang on a drum than work, most of the time. Since banging on drums is unlikely to make it possible to pay my bills, sadly I still have to work. 

Another thing that made me want to write about this song is that, it appears, since SMM’s founding back in 2008, no one has written a post about one of Rundgren's songs. He’s been mentioned and his production work has been referenced, but despite the fact that the guy has written a bunch of serious classic rock songs in a career that started in the late 1960s and has included more than three dozen solo and band albums, as well as being a true innovator, none of the many former or current SMM writers have written about him. 

Now, if you read my stuff, at this point, you’d probably expect the next line to be, “Born in Philadelphia in 1948, Rundgren….” followed by a long discussion of his career mostly pilfered from Wikipedia or Allmusic, with the occasional snarky aside. But I’m not going to go there. If you want to know more about Rundgren’s life and career, click on one of those links. Or both. Because you don’t want to work, either.

It may be that “Bang The Drum All Day” will end up being Rundgren’s most enduring song, although “Hello It’s Me” and “Can We Still Be Friends” might give it a run for its money. ("I Saw The Light," too.) It was, initially, a throwaway song that Rundgren claims came to him mostly in a dream, and since he had a home studio, was able to roll out of bed and record it-he plays all the instruments on the song. Rundgren has said that his record company didn’t see the song as a single from his 1983 album The Ever Popular Tortured Artist Effect, but eventually it was released and topped out at 63 on the Billboard Pop Singles chart, and 39 on the Billboard Mainstream Rock chart. 

But it had legs. 

What makes the song fit our theme, of course, are the lyrics: 

Every day when I get home from work
I feel so frustrated
The boss is a jerk
And I get my sticks and go out to the shed
And I pound on that drum like it was the boss's head

But what made the song popular was its fun message and the catchy music. Rundgren explained

I like the idea that I've written a song that is well known to a broad segment of the population…and they have no idea why they know it! In the same sense that everybody knows 'Happy Birthday,' but they can't remember the first time they heard it, and they have no idea who wrote it. But you've penetrated the cultural consciousness in a way that transcends the typical pop song, and what it means is that if I never have another hit record on the radio again, that song is still going to be around likely twenty-five years from now. 

And although Rundgren also claims that he hates playing the song because it makes him feel “ape-like,” he also considers it his most impactful song, “because I made so much money off of it.” Not only through sales and airplay, but because it has been used in many commercials, TV shows and movies, at football games (most notably Green Bay Packers games) and as a theme song. 

Despite making all that money from “Bang,” it still seems that Rundgren still wants to work (or maybe has to.)