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Eddie Money made my crappy life seem perfect, if only for 3 minutes every month

Eddie Money passed away Friday, 33 years after giving the world his greatest gift.

Eddie Money In Concert - Clarkston, MI Photo by Scott Legato/Getty Images

The first thing we changed when we moved into the Wallingford Social Club in 2003 was our midnight party song. “Wonderwall” was out. “Take Me Home Tonight” was in.

The WSC was, by most official measures, a third world country. It was once a resplendent house stuck between the North Oakland, Shadyside, and Bloomfield neighborhoods of Pittsburgh, the resting place of mill managers who drank something better than Stroh’s and blithely ignored the pleas of their workers. When I moved in, it was a split level residence with a papier-mâché door and a stack of cinder blocks put in place to divide the two sides.

We couldn’t drink the water there our final two years because it had abnormally high levels of lead. Winters meant an $800 monthly heating bill just to keep pipes from bursting and toilets from freezing solid. We were a group of scumbag architecture students sandwiched between a Chabad House and a Baptist minister. Their forgiveness — and much more likely, pity — factored heavily in our continued existence without police intervention.

The WSC — our house — was roughly a 15-minute walk from the Carnegie Mellon campus (20 if you were hustling back on an hour-long break between classes, somehow). It was also the epicenter of the “Archi Party,” a gathering of the sleep deprived masses eager to excise the demons haunting them from 120 hours of studio time for the cost of a $5 Solo cup.

One thing to note about Carnegie Mellon is that it’s mostly a dour and miserable place with mostly dour and miserable students. The campus could be packed with people bustling from class to class and you wouldn’t make eye contact with any of them. This was truest in the architecture program.

All of us spent time sleeping in the halls and grimed-down couches of the Margaret Morrison Carnegie Hall. Some of us slept there more than in our actual beds. We saw each other more than our roommates. If we lived with other architecture students, we would want nothing more to murder them.

But one Friday per month, give or take, we found a way to boil that stress off in the top floor of a building whose radiators were strictly decorative. Eddie Money was our deliverance.

At midnight at the WSC, DJ Chaz’s stream of OutKast, Twista, and Prince gave way to the building synth of Money’s masterpiece. The previous tenants had leaned toward Oasis, but the Not-Beatles were decidedly uninteresting to us. Meanwhile, “Take Me Home Tonight” was the mid-80s comeback song that pushed Money out of a drug abuse spiral and back into the mainstream. It was also, unequivocally, the perfect party song for a group of stressed out misfits light years away from a typical college experience.

Everything slowed down when those first notes hit. The bar area emptied. Cloves were quickly dashed into the brick exterior of the house. The party swelled like a sprained ankle.

Sometimes there was a microphone and one of us who lived at the house would give a rambling toast to nothing. Sometimes there wasn’t. It made no difference. All people wanted to do was lift a Solo cup filled with the finest booze named after Russian peninsulas, grab a friend or whomever they were flirting with at the time, and sing.

whooooaaaa, oh-whoa, oh whoooa. yeah yeaaaaah eee-yeah, ee-yeeaaaaaah

Then the Money man took over. The house roared to life like a steam engine, sputtering wispy fumes of Natural Light through windows that only retained heat in the summer. The lyrics were aural Teflon; every shitty thing from the previous day, week, or month slid away from it

The song itself was cheesy, but it resonated with a bunch of kids who grew up in the 80s and saw visions of Ronnie Spector dancing on VH1 whenever their mom wanted to work out in front of the TV. Eddie warned us about sleepless nights and walking these city streets like he was introducing us to a mismatched pair of police officers from an underdeveloped crime drama.

And then it hit:



The middle portion was filled with the wrong lyrics barked 100 different ways, and it didn’t matter. It was the nerdiest bacchanalia in the world compared to what we assumed was happening at actual colleges, and we all bought in. That chorus wasn’t sung, it was screamed in triumph over another shitty week at a shitty school preparing for shitty jobs designing Jamba Juices and Whole Foods and making $35,000 per year.

As far as we could tell, this was the experience we’d all been missing. The rite of passage for which we’d slogged through high school. And the architect behind it all was Eddie Money.


These parties typically lasted two more hours afterward, dropping off an 80s-inspired bell curve before we’d have to stack up half-empty red cups and pour them down a sink that got a little more clogged every party. Saturdays were spent cleaning a house that would remain low-key sticky for the next week. Sundays meant we were all back in the studio or working elsewhere, trying to keep our place at a college that did everything in its power to let us know it didn’t actually give a shit about us.

I stuck around CMU’s architecture program for three semesters before leaving, effectively quitting before they could fire me. I landed in the university’s creative and professional writing tracks and pitched a story idea about a school populated by the unknowing clones of famous people.

It revolved around the lonely lost child of Eddie Money. It also turned out that “Clone High” had perfected that angle long before I’d thought of it. Now I write about football.

Money followed the same trajectory as most secondary 80s rock stars, finding temporary homes at regional gambling halls and state fairs after his days of headline tours and popular clubs were behind him. I saw him around 2006 at Connecticut’s Foxwoods Casino. While this 60ish-year-old man labored through hits like “Baby Hold On” and “Shakin,” he brought out an extra gear to close his show with “Take Me Home Tonight.” Money knew. And I, drunk as I’d been those college nights at the WSC, stood and shouted in raw wonder.

That midnight tradition still mostly comes up at weddings, and mostly gets the same response. Much fancier drinks than the ones we’d raised in 2003 get tabled as we go arm-over-shoulder across a parquet dance floor. The build remains perfect, slowly spiraling up to that first chorus, then taking off like a roller coaster and hitting top speed once Ronnie chimes in. Some people may hate it. These are not my friends.

Edward James Mahoney passed away September 13, 2019 after battling esophageal cancer. Eddie Money, though? He lives three minutes and 35 seconds at a time, reminding me that, holy shit, things can be perfect. Just not for long.

Thanks, Eddie. You’ll be missed.

(Sorry that I couldn’t find your official video on YouTube, too.)