Paul Myers’ “A Wizard, A True Star: Todd Rundgren in the Studio” does what few biographies can: rather than tell a story, it paints a detailed and colorful history. His recollection of Todd Rungren’s career goes beyond a retrospective episode of “biography” or “behind the music” by painting the picture of a musical figure who is not defined merely as a man, but as an artist.
That is the key to Myers’ storytelling: this book is not rooted in the details of a person, but in the creation and development of a visionary. Sure, there are leeways into Rundgren’s personal life, but between the lines of every segway is his hidden driving force. The reader is shown there is no aspect of the subject’s life when his musical goal is far from his mind. Through interviews with bands and artists of varying genres and types, Myers builds the portrait of a driven and dedicated spirit. This book is made enjoyable because of the author’s investment in the artist’s craft.
As if the tapestry of Rungren’s life is not enough, Myers weaves the tale with words and recollections that make the book worth reading. The voice flows easily, managing to open the reader’s eyes to learn. There are no dry spots; like the memories being shared, the lines move invitingly from one to the next, holding our attention on each page. Many books in this genre grow dull and parochial by trudging through useless facts and worrying too much about hitting key points. Myers escapes this fate, lending an almost conversational tone to his style.
He does not shy away from anything: the high and low points shine together to honestly mold his subject. Rundgren’s life is played out with few apologies, but always with the promise of his successful visions. Myers displays Rundgren as a brimming painter, with a sound board as his canvas and the instrumental talents of himself and others as his tools. It is because of the voice, tone and language that when the reader closes the book, it is realized this was not a run-of-the-mill biography, but a multi-faceted journey into the mechanics of the music industry seen through the actions of a man who helped create it. As a sculptor molding his clay, Myers reveals that Rundgren is not forming the music, but, rather, that the music is forming him.