Todd Rundgren – Good Vibrations

Some songs you don’t expect to hear a cover of…this is one of them.

I bought this single in 1976 in a local record store we had in our small town called Sounds and Scenes (long gone but I love the name). I liked the song Good Vibrations and didn’t know at the time who did the original version. I was only 9 years old and thought I had the real thing. 

He made an album called Faithful, full of covers and he performed them to the letter. I’ve listened to the album and they are close but this one is really on it. He did Rain, Strawberry Fields, If Six Was Nine, and Bob Dylan’s Most Likely You Go Your Way And I’ll Go Mine.

Todd’s version of the song peaked at #34 in the Billboard 100 and #28 in Canada in 1976. The album Faithful peaked at #54 in the Billboard Album Charts.

Todd Rundgren is very talented and I’m a fan of him. He did a fantastic duplicate version of this song. My question now is why? He got so close…you have to wonder why he did it in the first place. But…who am I to question Todd Rundgren?

I usually don’t like when an artist covers a song and changes it so much you cannot tell what the song is… not a problem with this one. Todd does exactly what he says in the album name… he was very faithful to these songs.

Later on, Todd was asked what he gained after doing this album of covers. 

Todd Rundgren: Well, you gain an education. I haven’t done so many of those lately. In fact, I can’t recall anything since, for instance, The Ever Popular Tortured Artist Effect or a Small Faces song. Everything since then has been originals. In that particular instance, on Faithful, that was like 10 years after I had gotten into the music business and I was trying to give people who either had never experienced it or had forgotten it, a taste of what it was like to move through the culture at that time. What was on the radio, what they were playing in the boutiques or in the record stores, the kind of songs you would hear. So I took a cross-section of mostly songs that were popular in 1966 and did them as dead-on as I could. People were supposed to pretend that they were listening to ’66 radio or going from store to store in a hip neighborhood in 1966 and hearing what people were listening to then.

Good Vibrations

I love the colorful clothes she wears
And the way the sunlight plays upon her hair
I hear the sound of a gentle word
On the wind that lifts her perfume through the air

I’m picking up good vibrations
She’s giving me excitations
Good bop bop, good vibrations
Bop bop, excitations
Good, good, good, good vibrations

Close my eyes, she is somehow closer now
Softly smile, I know she must be kind
When I look in her eyes
She comes with me to a blossom world
I don’t know where but she sends me there

Oh my my my, what a sensation

Oh my my, what elation

Got to keep those loving good vibrations
Happening with her


Author: Badfinger (Max)

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

40 thoughts on “Todd Rundgren – Good Vibrations”

  1. I’d never heard of his covers album. Interesting concept to try to actually copy others’ recordings. This one does sound almost exactly like the Beach Boys. I’m trying to keep a positive open mind, but am going to put the question out there anyway: Why would someone put these copies out, rather than compiling the actual hit recordings, if not to appropriate royalties? I’m sure that’s already been debated and I’m the one who’s late to the conversation.

    Coincidentally, PBS premiered a bio on Brian Wilson last night, that was very good and not like others, imo. It’s in their American Masters series.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It’s almost like the old saying about why someone climbed the mountain? The because it’s there answer…but yea…I never understood it. It’s not like this was a minor hit to begin with and he was bringing it back.

      Oh cool…I didn’t know about that Wilson bio…I’ll have to check it out thank you. .

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I can definitely see messing around in the studio and trying to re-create someone else’s sounds, but to release it for sale, hmmm.

        Re the Wilson bio, it’s not the typical where they show old photos and interview other people, but not the actual person or band. Brian is a main participant in this documentary.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. I would like to see it coming from him. What a strange journey that man went through.


      3. “David Crosby: Remember my name” and is hosted by Jakob Dylan. The other one is, “Beware of Mr. Baker,” and guess what? The whole thing is on youtube!

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Ah! I purchased Beware of Mr. Baker as soon as it was available! I enjoy watching it every so often. I’ll look for the Crosby one. It’s got to be good if hosted by Jakob.

        Liked by 2 people

      5. Very awesome, Diana. Not only did I have a better idea of who Crosby was after watching it, I was more impressed with Jakob Dylan than before. Some very cool shots of Laurel Canyon, where the magic was happening also.

        Liked by 2 people

      6. Yea…it fooled this 9 year old into buying it. Dave had a good suggestion…doing an album of not so well known covers.

        Liked by 1 person

      7. Yes…heck I didn’t know about the Beach Boys. I knew about the Beatles and Monkees…and thanks to my sister the…gulp…Osmonds.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I didn’t know it was a part of a whole album of dupes. I echo the previous statements… he did a great job of it, sounded very very close to the original …but why? He might have done better to do the project with lesser-known songs… the idea was OK but why do a song that’s iconic and known to all? I don’t think I heard this version in the 70s…I can only guess the AM station I listened to said the same “why bother? We play the Beach Boys version already from time to time, this sounds the same”

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It was the first single I remember buying myself…I had bought Beatle albums but no singles…my sister had that covered.

      Yes the question is why?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I sort of disagree as to his intent… I think he probably was pointing out how good it was …but also showing off, to say ‘I’m every bit as good as Brian Wilson…maybe better because I can do it all by myself’. Seemed a rather unnecessary exercise by him

        Liked by 2 people

  3. Todd Rundgren is a very interesting person and a really great musician. You mentioned the old saying about why someone climbed the mountain and the other day I asked Alexa why the frog crossed the road. She made me laugh when she said, “To get to the other, lookout splat, oh my.”

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I like a good cover but this is so spot-on it’s not an homage or a cover but a copy, note for note, So, outside of Todd, and his record company/deal, why? And outside of 9 year old Max it was pointless. Ah well, musicians; If you have the time talent and money to remake an icon why not, even if it’s only to please yourself? I guess. However, having heard this I’m not running off to grab this album, Todd! Been there, heard that.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That is the biggest question…why? It’s not like he was introducing the song to a new generation. Yea I didn’t know the difference…I just liked the song. Reminds me of some of those K-Tel records where the original artists would re-record their hits…but this wasn’t even that!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh God, K-Tel- ‘You can’t tell the difference between the original or the K-Tel offering!’ If you’re Helen Keller, Lou Ferigno or Marlee Martin, perhaps not.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Thanks Obbverse! My assistant just came in my office wondering what the hell was so funny.


  5. A great cover, and I agree with you as to why he’d want to make such a faithful version of the original. Don’t feel bad about thinking his version was the ‘real thing’. When I was in my early teens, my sister and I mostly listened to an ‘adult contemporary pop’ radio station in San Jose because that’s the one our mother had set on the car radio. They played songs by Dionne Warwick, Petula Clark, the Beatles, Beach Boys, Turtles, Supremes, Mamas & Papas, Simon & Garfunkel, the Association, Tom Jones, Glen Campbell, Nancy Sinatra – you get the picture. So, I honestly thought “Light My Fire” was a song by Jose Feliciano before I later discovered it was originally by the Doors. OMG!

    Liked by 1 person

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