Eddie Money Portrait

Baby Hold On: Why Eddie Money Was the Patron Saint of Rock Uncool

As he himself would have admitted, Eddie Money was no one’s idea of a conventional rock star. His stage moves were always a little gawky and spasmodic, his borderline hoarse voice in need of a lozenge or two. Emerging during the punk era though never part of it, he preferred the stadium-friendly shout-along choruses of mainstream rock and adopted the suit-and-tie New Wave look while keeping his hair unfashionably long. He was even an NYPD cop — a career move that, while utterly honorable, didn’t jibe with the traditional, anti-establishment rock & roll handbook

For decades, we’ve been taught that pop stars, especially rock stars, are supposed to embody a certain type of cool. But the accidental genius of Money, who died Friday of heart valve complications at 70, was that he almost never was. Throughout pretty much his entire career, he was rock’s endearing every-palooka, a clumsy, somewhat overwrought guy who was one of rock’s most relatable acts and, during a 45-year career, stumbled onto some of the most enduring radio hits of his era.

From the start, Money seemed out of step. His first album arrived in 1977, the same year that gave us the debuts of the Clash and Elvis Costello, yet Money preferred his rock & roll almost proudly, unabashedly generic. This was the dawn of what came to be known as corporate rock, and so many of Money’s early hits, like “Baby Hold On,” “Gimme Some Water” (“cause I shot a man on the Mexican border”?), and especially “Two Tickets to Paradise,” conformed to many of that genre’s trademarks: big, brawny guitars, a certain vacuum-sealed sound, the music-school guitar solo.

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