To be sure, Toody is the only thing Fred has ever loved more than rock ’n’ roll. And although Fred says he asked her to start touring with him in the Rats back in 1978 because he was tired of dealing with a rotating cast of flaky bassists, it’s not hard to imagine that he also missed her when he was gone. Even now, the two seem like they’d be lost without each other. Toody knows Fred’s stories better than he does, often correcting him—even the tales about things she didn’t witness. And man, does she laugh. No matter the situation—cockroaches in the motel room, the tendonitis in her right hand, the butting of heads—she postscripts every story with a raspy cackle.
“For us, the 24/7 thing has always worked,” Toody explains. “It’s what we both need, what we’re both able to give, and what we both want. Most people probably couldn’t handle it. He’s a Virgo, I’m a Capricorn; I’m a procrastinator, always late—but him? You must be punctual. What feels like 30 seconds for me feels like 10 minutes for him. It frustrates the hell out of him. But I’m his biggest fan, and I think he’s my biggest fan.”
Forty-two years on, Fred still writes songs for Toody, and, for her part, she says the flattery never gets old. Neither does the shit-talk. As we walk through the backyard to see the lake built by beavers, Fred begins singing a line from a new song, “Zip My Lip”: “Every time we’re one-on-one, you just sit there playing dumb.” And here Toody jumps in: “Zip my lip and let it ride, anymore it’s no surprise.”
“That’s basically us,” Toody laughs, slapping Fred on the thigh. “When you’ve been married 42 years, you’ll understand.”
This year, Fred and Toody celebrated their anniversary like they always do: they locked the door, unplugged the phone, uncorked a bottle of champagne, and had dinner in bed while watching movies. Fred did the cooking on his George Foreman grill: steak, asparagus, potatoes, and crab meat.