A year after having his first Top 20 hit, Todd Rundgren had an ever bigger hit in June of 1972 with I Saw The Light. The first single from double LP, Something/Anything?, climbed all the way to #16. The LP was his first proper solo venture (his first 2 LPs after leaving Nazz were originally credited to Runt) and he decided to get obsessive, playing all the instruments and singing all the vocals except for Side 4, which was recorded live. So the next time you hear I Saw The Light, remember you are listening to an all-Todd recording. It would still be another year before Stevie Wonder would take that kind of artistic studio control and it remained a rarity until today’s bedroom technology caught up. Many people actually forget that before Todd’s song, a mention of I Saw The Light might bring up memories of the Hank Williams gospel tune.
Musically, it’s a beautiful piece of straight ahead pop. I love all the little touches in this song, especially when I hear it in my headphones. Like the cabasa during the 2nd half of the first verse that shows up, how the drums seem to speed up a bit when he sings I tried to run, the double-up guitar solo and the George Harrison-inspired slide licks. There are so many little details that one may not even notice, that Todd obviously put some thought into. And you may not guess it, but Todd was a big Laura Nyro fan and has admitted how much she influenced his early songwriting. If you know her work, that truth is clear in this recording, especially in his backing vocal arrangement.
Lyrically, it’s a wonderful statement of those first feelings of love, not knowing what to do, but not being able to ignore it either. It’s when you fall in love with someone who you already know as a friend and you’re just not sure what to do or say. So maybe Todd ran out before, but he promises that he won’t do it anymore. Cause he sees the light in your eyes. Does that make you an alien?