Liner notes by Tony Sclafani. I first heard it wafting out of my old clock radio, the one I had in my bedroom as a teenager. When I heard the talking in the song, I stopped whatever I was doing and stared to listen closely. It was a song about a guy who didn't seem all that different from me - a teenager asking his buddy about a girl he had a crush on because he clearly didn't know how to handle situation. Beyond the lyrics, it had one of those grand, rousing choruses you just have to sing along with. The song, I later learned, was "Tommy, Judy & Me," done by veteran songwriter Rob Hegel. Although it only topped out on the Bubbling Under chart at #109 (in Aug., 1980), it's since become a cult classic. Years before the Beastie Boys or filmmaker John Hughes tapped into the teenage psyche of the 1980s, Hegel had cleverly captured all the anxieties, fears, worries and silliness of American teendom in just over three minutes. It left such an impression on me that when I grew up and became a music writer, my first blog entry for the "Lost in the Grooves" Web site was about the song. It's a classic American rock track that should have been heard by more. "Tommy, Judy & Me," which is included on this CD in it's original demo form, is just one of the many first-rate tunes penned by Hegel, a Dayton, Ohio native-turned-Californian. Hegel started his career when he was a teenager, with his 1960s garage band Bittervetch (a 2006 CD on Gear Fab Records presents their demos and Pixie Records single, and tells the first part of Hegel's story). After Bittervetch split, Hegel attended the University of Cincinnati, where he was discovered playing piano in his dormitory and drafted into recording with a local band, Me & the Other Guys. "It went nowhere," Hegel says, "and afterward I played in a lot of bars and just kept singing and writing." Hegel's love of music led him to work at WFIB, his college's radio station, where he befriended the local record promoters. He liked what they were doing so much he took a position as a promo man for RCA Records in 1972. Rob went into a studio and recorded "New York City Girl" (a Tony Orlando & Dawn / New Orleans jazzy-pop style song) and was signed to a record deal by his boss at RCA. More importantly, it led to Hegel's first publishing deal, which was with Chappell Music. His first "professional songwriting" resulted in the two expressive love songs from 1974 included in this package, "All Beginning" and "Here You Are Again (Lovely Lady)." Soon after, some songs by Hegel and co-writer Amanda George caught the ear of one of the biggest names in the music business, Don Kirshner. The Don of the music biz was excited: "We went into his office," remembers Hegel. "And he said, 'OK, forget Sedaka, and Diamond; you guys are the best writers I've ever heard! And I'm gonna make you the most famous people you could imagine.'" Kirshner soon had Hegel and George writing for the NBC Saturday morning children's show "The Kids from C.A.P.E.R." and the prime time Norman Lear sitcom "A Year at the Top," starring Mickey Rooney, Paul (David Letterman) Schaffer, and Greg (My Two Dads) Evigan. During this time Hegel and George also wrote "Sinner Man" for former Labelle singer Sarah Dash, which became a major disco hit. Hegel was itching to record an album, but Kirshner had other plans. Hegel and George were set up by Kirshner to co-write a musical version of "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" with a book (originally written by Kurt Vonnegut) by Dan Greenberg and Suzanne O'Malley. It was around this time Kirshner heard Hegel's demo of "Tommy, Judy & Me" (included here) and insisted the lyrics be altered so it could be included in the musical. Hegel had other plans; he kept the lyrics intact and pocketed the song for his own solo release. Hegel landed his long-awaited record deal with the company with whom he originally got his start: RCA. His 1980 album "Hegel" (which included "Tommy, Judy & Me") is now out of print. But contained within this CD are a passel of demos recorded before and after the album's release. These include "Paradise Lost," "Thoughts Before the Final Shock," "We're Lovers After All," "You Wonder," "Rumors" and "Displays" (the last of which would have been the title track to Hegel's second RCA album). Also recorded just after the "Hegel" album was "Poison Apple Love," a jaunty piano-based number that was closely echoed a quarter of a century later in Sara Barielles' smash hit "Love Song." "Tommy, Judy & Me" was added to playlists in several East Coast markets, but was kept off many others because of it's opening line -- which seems very tame now: "Tommy said that he's had some girls in the strangest positions in the back of his car." When Hegel got to make an all-important appearance on "American Bandstand" to promote the tune, he found himself banned from singing it on TV because of the "suggestive" lyrics. Ironically enough, he notes, they had no problem letting him sing another song that had the opening line: "If I had known you for a day before I met you, I would have shot you on sight." Meanwhile, "Grease" choreographer Patricia Birch heard "Tommy, Judy & Me," and drafted Hegel to write songs for the sequel, "Grease 2," which she was directing. He penned another cult favorite, "(Let's) Do It for Our Country," within minutes of getting the script in the mail. His original demo is included here. Despite almost breaking out as an artist, Hegel found himself without a label when RCA's A&R management changed hands. So he took to professional songwriting again, this time earning a Gold Record for co-writing the 1985 Air Supply Top 20 hit "Just As I Am" with Alice Cooper guitarist and composer Dick Wagner. The late 1980s saw Hegel move away from the music industry, but the quality of his writing didn't fall off. If anything it improved: later efforts like "A Little Bit Of Love," "Say You Love Me," "I Want You To Be Here" and "Don't Forget Me" show his melodic skills sharpened and his singing more nuanced. These four tracks were recorded with his friend, Warren Schatz, best known for producing Vicki Sue Robinson. Since the late 1980s, Hegel has continued writing. He has written a screenplay, a couple of stage plays, and co-authored (with wife Susan) the novel, TUXEDO BOB. He has also written a musical thriller, "The MIRROR OF MISTER MOORE," two songs from which are included here ("I Don't Think I Should Be Here" and "Wild About Love"). Hegel's place in the pop pantheon is assured because of "Tommy, Judy & Me," which retains a cult following. Over a decade after it's release, Hegel received an early morning phone call from legendary disc jockey Scott Shannon, then at WPLJ-FM in New York: "Scott said, 'We've been looking for you. We've had a lot of calls about your record.' People wanted to know what I was doing - and why the record wasn't a hit." Hearing the song now, even in demo form, that's still a relevant thing to wonder. Tony Sclafani writes for MSNBC, The Washington Post Express, and contributes to the Village Voice, Goldmine and Record Collector.