Todd Rundgren played the drums on this track, which is a triumph of roughness.
Notice the radical tempo changes here, the brittleness of the feel. (Hear how the drum entrance lurches forward.) All of it is gloriously necessary for the rough and tumble feel of this track. “If only Rundgren had hired [insert name of some studio pro] to play on this tune” misses the point! The song’s most faithful expression requires a certain lack of facility.
Consider the lyrics:
Keep your head and everything will be cool
You didn't have to make me feel like a fool
When I tried to say I feel the way that I do
I want to talk with you
And make it loud and clear
Though you don't care to hear
But couldn't I just tell you the way I feel?
I can't keep it bottled up inside
And could we pretend that it's no big deal
And there's really nothing left to hide?
The song is performed from the perspective of someone out of control, someone who can’t suppress emotions in favor of polished presentation. So it is with the drumming.
An important question for any instrumentalist trying to bring a piece of music to life: might it be that you are too focused on demonstrating mastery? What about letting go of "how good am I?" and listening instead to what the music is saying to your heart?
Thank you for reading.