Todd And The Prom Myth

September 18, 2013
by Evan

Hey guys. The Todd record is officially ON SALE. You can buy up your copy direct from me, or you can order via Bandcamp (digital download). If you live in Los Angeles you can find copies at any of the following music retailers: Record Surplus, Touch Vinyl, Amoeba, Vacation Vinyl, Origami Vinyl, Jacknife Records & Tapes and Rockaway Records. Keep checking Twitter and Facebook for updates as more stores should be added to that list in the near future.

Perhaps the best-known attribute of Todd’s album is the infamous “prom story.” According to one source, “[Todd] did try to sell his albums at his senior prom, believe it or not: unsurprisingly a wallflower for most of his high school career, he decided to debut the album at the last formal school event and set up a booth somewhere near the buffet table so his classmates could finally see the real him. (The reception was frosty at first – you could probably determine anyone in Todd’s class’ social standing by how far away from him they were able to sit.) Sales were slow all night, but during the awards portion of the prom the prom king and captain of the football team took time out from receiving his own award to nominate Todd for “Most Likely to Be Selling His Album in 20 Years”. Then, in a moment out of one of John Hughes’ wet dreams, the entire class saw both Todd and the jock for what they truly were, flooded Todd’s sales booth, and bought out the entire run.”

According to Todd, that’s not quite how it went down. He recalls his prom night differently, saying, “There was no table set up near the buffet table.” And the closest thing to the fabled awards portion of the event was something called “Wills and Prophecies.” Todd says, “I’m not sure if high schools still do this or not, but at the time — at the high school I attended — we had Wills and Prophecies. Basically what it was…different people in my class — and 90% of time it was popular students, of which I was not one — they would will their possessions to close friends, or make prophecies about each others’ futures. It was like, you know, ‘Should I die in the next ten years, I’m going to give you this, and you can have that…’ and they were always filled with innuendos and inside jokes amongst the jocks and the cheerleaders, the football team, and the popular people. If you weren’t in that crowd — and I really wasn’t, that part is true — half of the Wills and Prophecies you didn’t even understand. The one prophecy that did involve me was that — and looking back on it now it’s really ironic — was that 35-years later I would still be selling my album. Now, of course the twist on that is that we made 100 albums at the time, and the prophecy said nothing about selling reissues. Whoever said it meant I’d be selling the twenty or thirty or forty of those  original copies that I  couldn’t sell in 1979 for five dollars. Even though there was no pig’s blood involved at my prom (like the movie Carrie) and there was no “bro-mance” between any football players and myself, the prediction about me and my record was made. Actually, I’m hoping to visit some family in Indiana next summer which is also when my 35th high school reunion is being held. I’ve never gone to any of them! And now I’ll have some copies of the record to bring with me. So I’ll get to say, ‘See! It came true! If we placed a bet on this prophecy you’d all be paying me some bucks!'”

Of course an album as unique and memorable as With Love…From Me To You is getting the reissue treatment 35-years later. It was prophesied!

Time might have taken its toll on the church sanctuary where the photos on the back of the cover were taken, and the now-defunct Audio Services studio in South Bend (or was it Mishawaka?), but the music is just as heartfelt and awkward and dark and silly in 2013 as it was in 1979. I was happy to hear that time also did not take its toll on the friends with whom Todd made this record. In our last conversation, he told me, “I still talk to my former bandmates. Several of my best friends were on the album. It was just a group of  high schoolers. None of us with any special training other than what we got in high school chorus or sing-choir. There were three of us, and then there were two other people on the album. There was the girl who sang the duet with me. She also sang with some girl friends of mine. All in all I have to say even though sometimes…I have to say I don’t like to listen to myself. I might like a song but I don’t necessarily like to hear myself singing it. For all of that — and I’ve spoken to you about the cringe-worthiness of some of it, the pictures on the jacket and certain songs — I have to say that for eight-to-ten high school kids that went into a studio not knowing diddly-squat, the quality is not that bad. In fact it’s pretty damned good. In 1978 or 1979 I have no idea what the state-of-the-art stuff was, and I don’t think the studio even had state-of-the-art equipment. Nothing was written down. It was all improv, and done by just us going in and doing our thing. We only had a limited amount of time. And the result of all that is what’s on the album. From that perspective, I think it is a damned good album.”

Todd – How Will I Make It On My Own? [Non-Album Version]

Todd – For You [1982 Demo]

 

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Every step on the path to this reissue has been enjoyable. Thank you Dave at Elysian Mastering. Thank you Mark R for handing me that CDr with “TODD” scrawled on a fateful Tuesday afternoon five years ago. Thank you Matvei for your help hunting down an original copy of the LP. Many thanks to all the bloggers who proliferated this album (and the story) and helped to build upon the cult-legend of the Acid Archives writeup. Most of all, thank you Todd for making this album, and for trusting me to see this reissue through to completion.

Hopefully if this succeeds I’ll be able to give more voices like Todd’s the opportunity to be heard.

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