The 22 year old Unanswered Question of Burt Bacharach from Toledo Ohio
On the last day of my 30s — as I approach the undeniable milepost of adulthood, I would like to finally answer a question placed by Burt Bacharach in 1998.
Strangely enough, in High School, and inspired by Austin Powers, I convinced some of my friends to drive all the way from Toledo to go see Burt Bacharach in February of 1997 at the State Theatre in Sandusky, Ohio (my parents may not know we did this and it was certainly out of my permitted driving range). IN places like Sandusky & Toledo, you could stay out back after a performance and meet the star! I met Bob Costas this way, as well as Weird Al.
We waited for Burt out back — it was a cold February night and when he came out- surprised to see a band of high school kids waiting, he reflexively thought we were there to rob him. We quickly assured him we were fans from Toledo!
The moment was tense. Burt thought of the right words. Then said “Well.. next year in TOLEDO!”. We all laughed and he hurried into a chauffeured limousine. We thought that was the end of it.. till… one year later.
IN the spring of 1998, the last year of Michael Jordan, Seinfeld & high school, Burt Bacharach and Elvis Costello released the album “Painted from Memory”.
WITHIN is a customary love song, entitled Toledo. Clearly most of the song had already been written about a customary BACHARACHIAN love situation. THE BRIDGE however, is ALL ABOUT (getting back) at US.
But do people living in Toledo
Know that their name hasn’t traveled very well?
And does anybody in Ohio
Dream of that Spanish citadel?
Mark, ABE, TRECH & I have not answered these questions … till NOW. And before I turn 40, the rightful age that people MAY start actually be seen as a Burt Bacharach fan, instead of a robber — here is our OFFICIAL RESPONSE.
It was probably about age 9 when I was riding in a car with my parents and they spilled the secret. Toledo is like a Stick in the Mud (a reference to the Toledo Mud hens!). We aren’t from here and you won’t be staying here. One day you will leave here. IN the meantime, wow are these people strange!
We would tell stories of mayor Carty Finkbeiner wanting to move deaf people out to the airport when they used to have flights there and people thought it was noisy. We used to see our neighbors across the street shoveling snow onto their driveway from the grass. Then there’s the PROPHET — Opel Covey. No one else has her!
There’s about 3 things I didn’t appreciate at the time.
- The diversity you find within the city of Toledo is actually quite striking & mostly harmonious. In 2005 when the neo-nazis were invited to protest this, the community and the police had a skirmish, misinterpreted by national media (of which I was a part at the time). The ‘violence’ was intended to protect their community from the outsiders and show the Neo Nazis how unwelcome they were. (the outside passive aggressive suburbs can be a different story — they are designed for social distance)
- Burt Bacharach wasn’t the first to write a song about Toledo. Good Ol’ John Denver claimed a “Saturday Night in Toledo is like being no place at all”. The quiet outside does something to your mind & your family. The truth is there’s a lot going on in Toledo, Ohio that outsiders aren’t invited to, you may even have to spend your life there to understand it. If you can figure it out, it’s a satisfied life. The richest people I know from the most interesting places will never figure this one out — although they have a chance with shelter in place.
3) You could meet people like Weird Al, Bob Costas & Burt Bacharach out back behind concerts.
SO. To answer Burt — and I sure hope you’re still writing songs because now we are actually old enough to be your fans .. here goes.
Yes. We are well aware that Toledo, Ohio is not Toledo Spain. Although I can guarantee that most of us have never been there to see our namesake ourselves. To remember our relationship to our namesake city, we do that the Toledo Blade, a locally owned hold out newspaper that’s named after the swords of Spain.
While I can’t adequately speak for the dreams of all Ohioans (but have you seen our Amy Acton & Gov Mike Dewine?? They’re a hit!).. We think Toledo has made a name for itself after all these years — and while you didn’t actually come visit us the next year in Toledo (1998) — and while I haven’t lived there since that year, I’m pretty sure if you were to make it out (when we’re allowed to travel again) we would be more than happy to meet you there to show you what it’s really all about. We have really spicy pickles! Spain does not.
We wish you well Burt Bacharach! Thanks for the mention!
-Dr. Daniel P. Beckmann — 5.16.20 San Francisco