I Saw The Light by Todd Rundgren (Bearsville, 1972)

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?

Advertisements
Leave a comment

3 Comments

  1. J.A. Bartlett

     /  August 28, 2011

    I’ve always thought that this is as close to perfection as a pop record could get. And it’s three minutes of summertime whenever it comes on the radio, even during a howling January blizzard.

    Reply
  2. Steve E

     /  August 29, 2011

    Agreed on “I Saw the Light,” although I have trouble pinning down my favorite Todd track among this, “Hello It’s Me” (both his solo version and the earlier Nazz version) and “We Gotta Get You a Woman.”

    Reply
  3. A nifty tribute to this song, but in fact Stevie Wonder had already put out his “Music of My Mind” album in March 1972, in which he did play all the instruments (with two minor exceptions).

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: