New York’s Finest
Remembering Eddie Money

Patrick Walsh-Scene4 Magazine

Patrick Walsh

On the day Eddie Money died, my pal sent me a couple of YouTube links to some classic videos, his only prefatory text: “I love this guy so much.” 

After I listened to “Take a Little Bit” and “Think I’m in Love” and watched Money earnestly lip-synch his passionately sung songs, I reflexively replied to the email: “Reason #1: He’s one of us.”

You see, Eddie Money was actually Edward Mahoney, born in Brooklyn in March of 1949 to Dorothy Mahoney and her husband Daniel Patrick, a New York City cop. Somewhere down the line, the Mahoneys moved further out on Long Island to Nassau County–a classic and very familiar trajectory. 

In 1967, young Edward graduated from Island Trees High School (the hamlet of Island Trees would later be called Levittown) and started as a cadet at the New York Police Academy–another classic trajectory. Eddie followed in the footsteps not only of his dad, grandfather, and brother, but thousands of other Irish-Americans who have comprised a major portion of the city’s police force for well over a century.

But long before Eddie entered the police academy, he was singing for money on the streets of New York. His love of music proved the stronger calling and he abandoned a career in law enforcement. With deference to the NYPD, we all made out when Eddie gave up on a badge to chase his star.

One thing he never abandoned was his blue-collar origins. Eddie changed his name (and even that was done with self-deprecation as money was something he rarely had starting out), but he stayed real. From the straightforward lyrics of his songs to the earnestness with which he sang them, Eddie Money was an Everyman’s Rock star. 

Even his hairstyle and wardrobe on-stage, on album covers, and in videos took a realistic tack; while most of the Rock world slid into Spandex and stuck its collective finger in the nearest electrical socket, Money kicked out hip, well tailored suits, stylish leather jackets, and–by industry standards–modestly long, eminently comb-able hair. His one piece of flash was a signature white silk scarf which he wore with lasting fidelity.

Money made so many straight-ahead Rock masterpieces–“Baby Hold On,” “Two Tickets to Paradise,” Think I’m in Love,” “Take a Little Bit,” “Shakin’,” “Take Me Home Tonight,” “Walk on Water,” “I Wanna Go Back”–belting ‘em out with utter conviction in that husky voice of his. But he had a deeper side, musically and personally. 

Like many Rock stars, he contended with that world’s omnipresent demons: drugs and alcohol. They nearly did him in several times, but he always came back, often with greater success.

And he wasn’t afraid to acknowledge his struggles. The title of his fourth album, the 1982 Platinum-selling No Control, alludes to the near-fatal night he got boozed up on vodka after a show and then mistook a synthetic barbiturate for cocaine. The combination plunged him into a coma. When he regained consciousness he found he’d damaged his sciatic nerve; he couldn’t walk for months and was left with a permanent limp. It was a wake-up call from which he was lucky to awake.


But there’s a song on No Control in which Money gives soulful articulation to a different kind of acknowledgement, one far more common and yet far more nuanced: with “My Friends, My Friends,” Money laments how we all lose touch with certain people, how friends can drift apart or be taken away. Certainly his path to fame removed him from the guys with whom he grew up. It’s also possible, given the time-period mentioned in the song, that some of those guys didn’t come back from Vietnam, but Money never spells it out. He wisely leaves it open and inclusive–Everyman-style. That was Money, right? Real and somehow approachable.

But “My Friends, My Friends” is something very special. It’s almost unbearably poignant . . . and unbearably beautiful. Matched to a wistful melody, Money’s vocals transform his deceptively simple lyrics into a melancholic plea that will sneak up on you and have you reaching for the Kleenex. Don’t let that put you off! You know what? It’s good to be moved like that from time to time. That’s the real juice when someone can make you feel that much.

Here are those deceptively simple lyrics, but I urge you to listen to the song:

    My Friends, My Friends

    Talkin’ ‘bout my T-shirts,
    And how they used to fit me;
    When I’m laughin’ with the boys,
    Their spirits seem to lift me.
    We were talkin’ ‘bout ‘68 and ‘69
    And all the things we did.
    It’s not that now I’m old at all –
    Then . . . we were just kids.

    My friends, my friends,
    Never got together again but
    I love my friends, my friends.

    My memories are happy
    And my memories are sad,
    But I love to take my pictures out
    And take the things I had.
    My songs are not like my life now
    And it’s always true
    Me and my friends were dreamers –
    Dreamin’ . . . all we do.

    My friends, my friends,
    Never got together again but
    I love my friends, my friends.

    My friends, my friends,
    We never got together again but
    I love my friends, my friends
    I really do miss my friends.

Eddie Money and his wife, Laurie, with whom he was married for just over 30 years, had five children. An Irish-American kid from Long Island slated to walk a beat decided to give us lasting music and joy instead. He lived the dream for 70 years. And while he lost some of his old friends he gained concert halls full of new ones. That’s why my pal, whom he never met, could write: I love this guy so much. That’s why I could reply, without hesitation: he’s one of us.

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Patrick Walsh is a writer and poet.
He writes a monthly column and is a Senior Writer for Scene4.
For more of his columns and other writings, check the Archives.

©2019 Patrick Walsh
©2019 Publication Scene4 Magazine



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