Todd Rundgren – I Saw The Light

I always thought of this as a perfect pop song. The lyrics won’t challenge Dylan but they fit the melody perfectly. Todd only had 8 songs in the top 100 and one top ten hit which surprises me because I thought it would have been more. He was an excellent producer. He produced Badfinger, The New York Dolls, Grand Funk, and many more. This song peaked at #16 in the Billboard 100 in 1972.

Rundgren talked about this song: “I wrote this song in 15 minutes from start to finish. It was one of the reasons that caused me to change my style of writing. It doesn’t matter how clever a song is – if it’s written in 15 minutes, it is such a string of clichés that it just doesn’t have a lasting impact for me. And for me, the greatest disappointment in the world is not being able to listen to my own music and enjoy it.”

From Songfacts

This song is about a mixed-up young man, perhaps a teenage boy, who stumbles into his first affair and doesn’t know if he loves the girl. It was a solid hit for Todd Rundgren, but far from his favorite. He explained: “‘I Saw The Light’ is just a string of clichés. It’s absolutely nothing that I ever thought, or thought about before I sat down to write the song.” 

This was the first song on the album. According to the liner notes of Something/Anything?, Rundgren thought it would be a hit, so he placed it first just like Motown used to do with their records.

The 45 RPM single was pressed on blue vinyl.

Rundgren learned piano on his own, which gave him a nontraditional approach to the instrument. When he wrote this song, he was doing what came naturally, moving his hands up and down the keyboard. As he did it, he came up with very simple lyrics, letting one line flow into another without thinking about it at all:

It was late last night
I was feeling something wasn’t right

Rundgren knew the song had hit potential, which he later learned can often come by keeping things simple. “Sometimes when these things just come spilling out, I’ve found, sometimes they have a more broad appeal to the average listener than if you’re trying to do something impressive,” he told Red Bull Music Academy during a 2013 talk. “I thought, ‘This is a real simple, straight-ahead, easy-to-understand song. I’ll pretend it’s a single and I’ll put it first on the record.”

This was used in the TV shows Six Feet Under, Beavis and Butthead and That ’70s Show. The song was also used in the movies Kingpin and My Girl.

Rundgren wrote this song, produced it, sang it and played all the instruments on it.

Todd states that after the release of Something/Anything he evolved as an artist and reached beyond writing about love and relationships. He states that he’d been using a brief relationship from high school as song fodder, throwing around the word “love” cheaply, and he began to feel strange about it. It inspired him to dig deeper for new material.

Rundgren re-recorded this with The New Cars after joining the band. It appears on their 2006 album It’s Alive!

There is barely any chorus on this song – it’s almost entirely verses and bridge. The chorus is just either “In your eyes” or “In my head” repeated twice.

The following year, another song using lots of “ite” rhymes hit the charts: “Dancing In The Moonlight” by King Harvest. In that one, the end of ever line ends in a rhyme for “light.”

I Saw The Light

It was late last night
I was feeling something wasn’t right
There was not another soul in sight
Only you, only you
So we walked along,
though I knew there was something wrong
And the feeling hot me oh so strong about you
Then you gazed up at me and the answer was plain to see
‘Cause I saw the light in your eyes

Though we had our fling
I just never would suspect a thing
‘Til that little bell began to ring in my head
In my head
But I tried to run,
though I knew it wouldn’t help me none
‘Cause I couldn’t ever love no one, or so I said
But my feelings for you
were just something I never knew
‘Til I saw the light in your eyes

But I love you best
It’s not something that I say in jest
‘Cause you’re different, girl, from all the rest
In my eyes
And I ran out before but I won’t do it anymore
Can’t you see the light in my eyes


Author: Badfinger (Max)

Power Pop fan, Baseball fan, old movie and tv show fan... and a songwriter, bass and guitar player.

22 thoughts on “Todd Rundgren – I Saw The Light”

  1. I have an ex that was serious Rundgren fan. He raised Liv Tyler with Bebe.

    He was a better producer & writer than a mainstream singer. He was talented as hell but, goofy. His best hit was sung by England Dan & John Ford Coley…Love Is The Answer. His version isn’t bad but, it was a hit for Dan & John.

    He just wasn’t a dynamic performer. Ever heard any of his stuff with Utopia? That’s where the above came from.

    He also produced Bat Out of Hell.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yes I like his stuff with Utopia…very good powerpop. I was just surprised he didn’t have more hits.
      He worked out of Bearsville NY with the Band’s manager Albert Grossman. He didn’t get credit but he helped produce some of their stuff…

      He had as much studio time he wanted. He was a good producer…He made Grank Funk into a more commercial sound. Bat Out of Hell…that thing owned the radio back in the day.
      I saw him a few years ago with Ringo…I like this one and Hello It’s Me…. The Drum song…or whatever it’s called… can annoy me at times…but it’s catchy.

      I love Liv Tyler


      1. Bang On The Drum…OY.

        I had a CD of his from ’97, IIRC…No World Order. I liked that one a lot.

        I also remember him doing a song about life as a musician, calling LPs ‘plastic waffles’. 😄

        Liked by 1 person

      2. “Plastic Waffles”…I like that.

        Have you ever heard his rendition of “Good Vibrations”? Check it out…it’s like…Todd…Why? He did a good job but it sounds almost straight up like the Beach Boys .


  2. Todd is too dismissive of a perfect melody. simple can be brilliant, there are no rules in what makes a great record. I have always adored this and Hello It’s Me, still as much a fan as I was then, and he’s always been interesting throughout his career, from Nazz onwards right up to date as he’s back after a gap of nearly 50 years with the brilliant Sparks this very week on a quirky new little gem My Fandango. Check it out! It’s no I Saw The Light, but great in it’s own way. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I really like Nazz a lot BUT I need to spend more time with them. Todd is as good a performer as he is a producer.
      Those two songs…I Saw The Light and Hello It’s Me are two almost perfect pop songs….I will check it out! Thanks

      Liked by 1 person

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