Eddie Money photographed in San Francisco, CA October 13, 2010 (C)Jay Blakesberg
“I can feel you breathe/I can feel your heart beat faster.”
So sings Eddie Money in “Take Me Home Tonight” — the instantly recognizable hit recorded 30 years ago that cemented the singer’s reputation as the patron saint of regret and mid-life angst. Whether it was his plea to not be discarded in “Baby Hold On,” his overwrought scheming in “Two Tickets to Paradise” (is this a date, or am I being kidnapped?), his mid-life crisis themed “I Want to Go Back,” or his 12-step flavor of “Walk On Water,” there was always something more to Eddie Money than just garden-variety butt rock.
Over the years, Eddie Money has brought that desperation like an afraid animal. And tonight he brings it all to Royale in Boston, another stop for the musician who is now several decades deep into his career.
“I’ve had girls rip my heart out and carry me like a corpse down the freeway with a shoestring,” the Long Island native tells Vanyaland in a recent chat from the road — where you can hear him yelling at his kids in the background. Money, like the rest of us, carries even the most innocuous scars into adulthood; but in his case, it birthed an entire career. “I went out with this one girl in high school,” he says. “A couple kisses or something like that. And then I’m hung up on this bitch for two or three years.”
You could see it in his eyes in his videos and on his album covers. The spark of life replaced by lots and lots of drugs and alcohol. Those pin-point pupils that told you that this was a man that you might not want to get into a car with. Take a look at the video for “Shakin’” and ask yourself, what would you be thinking if you were Apollonia — would you feel safer in Eddie’s car, or on Prince’s motorcycle?
Maybe you could see it in the ill-fitting suit and tie—dressed like a banker who had been fired three days before and had been spending the last several nights binge drinking, not telling his wife and kids of his whereabouts. “I always had the tie around my neck and not tied-up like a tie, which was kind of stupid,” jokes Money of his classic look. “But I was young and high. But I still wear a suit and tie. Just and case I get arrested, I’m ready for court.”
Tonight, Money’s Royale show is mostly for the lobster newberg crowd, formerly of Anthony’s Pier Four, who won’t be catching his show at Mohegan Sun tomorrow. “I’m still singing “Baby Hold On” and “Take Me Home Tonight,” says the now elder-rocker, whose long cleaned-up life (“I quit drinking so I wouldn’t have to go to any of those fucking meetings”) and success as a family man (his daughter, who some may know from MTVs “Rock the Cradle” and two sons are in his band) has kept him steadily working. “Those songs bring back a certain time in their lives. It makes people happy, and that’s a wonderful thing.”
The transition from the ‘70s to the ‘80s was particularly painful for people who were just a little too old to get on the new wave train and not quite heavy enough to be filed under metal. Put this in perspective. Eddie Money was 27 when he signed his deal for his first record in 1977. By his fifth LP Where’s the Party? released six-years later at age 33, he was considered a record industry causality. By Can’t Hold Back in 1986, where he considered deeper questions about how you can be an adult and party at the age of 36, he was considered redeemed. That’s a nine-year cycle for the birth, death and redemption of a star, with the mid-life crisis hitting a time when many of us are just starting to put our adult lives together in 2015.
“I went from a rock star to a has-been to an icon,” says Money. “It’s crazy. That’s how the business goes.” But whether or not he sees himself as being as strange and off the rails as some others do remains to be seen. When challenged about his awkward fit in the ‘80s scene, Money compares himself to Huey Lewis, who he came up with in the same California rock and r&b scene of the mid-’70s. Some will take Money over Lewis, but the comparison is a stretch. The ‘80s loved Huey… meanwhile Money is continually treated like a fraud. Consider the case when Doris Day understandably accused Money of lifting the chorus of “Baby Hold On” from her monster-hit “Que Sera Sera,” which was featured in Alfred Hitchcock’s 1956 film The Man Who Knew Too Much — a film which everyone, including Money, saw.
“She had a lawyer come to my house when I was still drinking and partying like a son of a bitch,” says Money, now in full-on raconteur mode. “Do you remember the Smirnoff girls in the black velvet dresses? I had a poster of a girl, it was actually like 5 foot, 6 inches tall, at the top of the hallway. So if you looked up the stairs and the hall light was on, it looked like this gorgeous chick was standing at the top of the stairs. So you would see it and say ‘whoa!’ So she had this lawyer come to my house. And I was coming down and I says ‘Who the fuck is Doris Day?’ — and he looked at the chick upstairs and just kind of shook his head and walked away.”
Put this in perspective, too. Eddie Money is a fucking great singer, and this is something that most rock-snobs anymore will never be able to reconcile. “Baby Hold On” sounds like David Ruffin of the Temptations singing with Big Star. And like it or not, almost 30 years later “Take Me Home Tonight” is still played about once an hour on classic rock radio. Money himself is still not sure whether he likes it.
Such is his dumb luck.
“I would have never wrote the damn tune,” says Money. “I wasn’t that crazy about it. But [producer] Ritchie Zito was a lot smarter than me. He said it was going to be a big hit. And I said, ‘It’s going to be a big hit because it’s got one of the greatest choruses that rock and roll ever created — ‘Be My Baby’ — sung by Ronnie Spector of the Ronettes.’ She hadn’t sang it in such a long time. Ritchie Zito had to sit her down for a couple of days to get it together. But you give her a bottle of red wine, and wow, she really comes to life.”
For Money to come to life these days, he doesn’t need the booze. The life is in his music — and it’s all around him.
EDDIE MONEY :: Friday, November 27 at Royale, 279 Tremont St. in Boston, MA :: 6 p.m., 18-plus, $25 to $30 :: Advance tickets :: Event page