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

Grand Funk – The Loco-Motion

This is one band the critics roasted during the seventies but they were extremely popular. Led Zeppelin was also a critic’s target but their music has aged very well…Grand Funk not as much but with some exceptions… They did come out with some catchy hits …and this remake is one of them. I remember this song as a kid and I was captivated by it…I’ve always liked the overall sound of this recording that Todd Rundgren captured. He produced this album Shinin’ On (1974) and We’re an American Band the year before. He made a big difference with their sound.

Little Eva first took this song to #1 in 1962 and Grand Funk took it to Number 1 in 1974. The Locomotion was written by Carole King and Gerry Goffin.

 

From Songfacts.

In our interview with Grand Funk drummer and vocalist Don Brewer, he explained: “The idea of Locomotion came when we were working on the Shinin’ On album in the studio with Todd (Rundgren). We had basically finished the album – ‘Shinin’ On’ was going to be the first single, and we were thinking about what we were going to do for another song. Mark (Farner) came in one day and off the top of his head was singing, ‘Everybody’s doing a brand new dance now,’ just for fun, and we all went, ‘Yeah, Grand Funk doing the Locomotion.’ It was a tongue-in-cheek kind of thing, and we said, ‘Let’s try it, let’s do it,’ so we sent off to New York, got the lyrics, and Todd had the idea of doing the song kind of like The Beach Boys’ ‘Barbara Ann’ where it sounded like a big party was going on, except Todd could really crank up everything with the hand claps and all of that stuff. It just had this huge sound to it – it sounded like a big party.”

The husband and wife team of Gerry Goffin and Carole King wrote this. It was originally Recorded by Little Eva in 1962 – her version was also a US #1 hit.

This was Grand Funk’s biggest hit. Their other #1 was “We’re An American Band.”

Todd Rundgren started working with the band on their previous album, We’re An American Band. He helped Grand Funk move from long songs like “I’m Your Captain” to shorter songs that were huge hits and got lots of airplay.

Grand Funk had lots of success with cover songs. They also recorded popular versions of “Gimme Shelter,” “Inside Looking Out,” and “Some Kind Of Wonderful.” Says Brewer: “It was always a matter of taking a song and making it be ours. To do that, we as a band had to feel it. So when somebody came up with the idea of doing a cover song, it was like the whole band could feel, ‘Oh yeah, this feels great.’ We were really kind of a jam band in the studio, we would endlessly jam on stuff.”

The Locomotion

Everybody’s doing a brand-new dance, now
(Come on baby, do the loco-motion)
I know you’ll get to like it if you give it a chance now
(Come on baby, do the loco-motion)
My little baby sister can do it with me
It’s easier than learning your A-B-C
So come on, come on, do the Loco-motion with me
You gotta swing your hips, now

Come on
Jump up
Jump back
Well, now, I think you’ve got the knack
Wow, wow

Now that you can do it, let’s make a chain, now
(Come on baby, do the loco-motion)
A chug-a chug-a motion like a railroad train, now
(Come on baby, do the loco-motion)
Do it nice and easy, now, don’t lose control
A little bit of rhythm and a lot of soul

Come on, come on
And do the Loco-motion with me

Move around the floor in a Loco-motion
(Come on baby, do the loco-motion)
Do it holding hands if you get the notion
(Come on baby, do the loco-motion)

There’s never been a dance that’s so easy to do
It even makes you happy when you’re feeling blue
So come on, come on, do the Loco-motion with me

(Come on baby, do the loco-motion)
So come on, come on and do the Loco-motion with me
(Come on baby, do the loco-motion)
So come on, come on and do the Loco-motion with me
(Come on baby, do the loco-motion)
(Come on baby, do the loco-motion)
(Come on baby, do the loco-motion)
(Come on baby, do the loco-motion)
(Come on baby, do the loco-motion)

Good Vibrations by Todd Rundgren

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.

He did an album called Faithful, full of covers and he performed them to the letter. I’ve listened to them 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 Rundgren is very talented and I’m a fan of him and he did a great 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 they change it so much you cannot tell what the song is… not a problem with this one…but I do like for an artist to put something of him or herself in it…Todd does exactly what he says in the album name… he was very faithful to these songs.