DUDE is just an idea. Tony DeNardo is just a man. Together, they make music and together, they are a great musical idea. DeNardo hasn’t had it easy though. You cannot ignore the fact that he is a handicapped man. That being said, DUDE transcends the limitations of what songwriting and imagination can be with his debut album, Kid Gloves(2012).
The story begins in Detroit in September 2001, where DeNardo was well on his way both musically and creatively, playing in several bands, most notably the Muggs. On September 4th, 2001 DeNardo suffered a hemorrhagic stroke at 28 years of age. A couple near death experiences and two months in the hospital are enough for anyone. But that was not all he had to endure. DUDE was completely paralyzed on his right side and lost the ability to speak. Once out of the hospital, DeNardo dedicated his life to rehabilitation.
Kid Gloves is an honest musical account that deals with Tony DeNardo’s life, before and after, his stroke. This collection of songs, some of which date back to 1996, are an autobiographical cross section of life through the eyes of a man who always had the greatest of ambitions. The album begins with Not Exactly Where I Should Be, an upbeat account of DeNardo’s distain for mediocrity on the radio, and not being able to ‘let go’ of the good old days. But DeNardo admits that he cannot ‘do it’ alone, “As long as I have you, I am not all by myself”. Gotten Over You, was written after DeNardo’s stroke in 2002 about his failed marriage. DeNardo had to prove to himself that he could still write and compose music as well as sing. Sweet Danielle was written in 1996 about the love of his life at the time and dealing with the pressures of working and still having time to nurture a loving relationship. In The Next Pocket was one of DUDE’s first songs ever written. Arranged by Bobby Emmett, fellow musician, friend and engineer of DUDE Kid Gloves, In The Next Pocket is a naïve attempt at understanding the struggles of homeless life in Detroit. By the end of the song, DeNardo gives up trying to understand and actually joins the ranks of this oppressed life style. Two Minutes Hate was inspired by the book, 1984 by George Orwell. DeNardo doesn’t pretend to have all the political answers, but knows very well there is another way, a more peaceful way to a world in harmony. Guest villain vocal appearance by George W. Bush, in his own words. For Judy is a tender instrumental track in honor of his mother Judy. Most women only get one chance of taking care of their child from birth to abandonment. This beautiful instrumental is a tribute to a woman, Judy, who took her son in a second time when DUDE needed his mother the most. Angels Looking Over Me marks the beginning of side B in the mind of DUDE. This song is an honest account of DeNardo’s two month hospital stay. Two months seemed like an interminable amount of time in any 28 year olds’ life. This song, written in 2002, chronicles the day to day monotony of that period in DUDE’s life. “I’ll get out of here in no time. And when I do, we’ll celebrate and cut the cake, ‘cause things are looking up”. What Made Her So Right was written in 2007 after visiting with DUDE’s father in California. Gary Buckles, a friend of DeNardo’s father and who is credited with the song title, approached DUDE with the song title and challenged him to write a song around it. Ballads are no stranger to DeNardo, having grown up listening to his heroes, John Lennon, Brian Wilson, Paul Simon, and so on. What Made Her So Right deals with the struggles of being in a tenuous relationship where the man is the aggressor. Realizing his failures, he resolves to try harder. Yer Big Year was also written in 2002 after DUDE’s stroke. A true story about his best friend, whom at the time, was in an exceptionally talented Detroit band, seemingly destined for fame. The verses deal with DUDE’s struggles to cope with his adjusted lifestyle, while the pre-chorus and chorus root his friend on to success. Before The Day Got Away, written in 2002, is DUDE’s most poignant ballad. Tragically, this song was written as a therapeutic way of dealing with life and near death. “The rain stopped before the day got away” is analogous to DeNardo’s brain bleed. DeNardo is challenging his paralyzed body to “come out and play”, imploring his broken body and conceding selfish childhood notions of ‘first in line’ mentality. “You can lead the way,” separating body from mind. Soliloquy, the last song on Kid Gloves was written in 2004 as an addition to Before The Day Got Away. Encouraged by friend and fellow musician Ross Westerbur, Ross thought Before The Day Got Away was just too short of a song, which is not entirely wrong to say, however Soliloquy needed to stand apart. This song represents ‘drawing lines in the sand’ and ‘taking sides. ‘ DeNardo again struggles with himself and the man he has become, “The clouds cast a shadow on you”. But in the end, mind wins over body and DUDE decides to pick the side of action and humility, ushered in by the sounding of the horns to end this album and forecasting a triumphant return to mental health and a 2nd album.