Todd Rundgren :: Hello It’s Me (The Midnight Special, 1973)

Watching this 1973 performance of Todd Rundgren guesting on The Midnight Special I am immediately struck by two things: a) what a great fucking song this really is, and b) wondering what early ’70s middle America must have thought when greeted by this superfreak after flicking on their televisions after dinner. Rundgren could, and did, do it all—and went way avant/out there on the very next LP, but the man knew his chops and could pen a hell of a pop song. Rundgren reportedly felt dogged by “Hello’s” surprise, mainstream success for years afterwards—a shame, as its crossing over did not diminish the tune’s power in the slightest. Now go ahead and put on a side of Something/Anything. You know you wanna.

15 thoughts on “Todd Rundgren :: Hello It’s Me (The Midnight Special, 1973)

  1. Personally, I think it would seem natural for TR to be surprised by the popularity and longevity that Hello it’s Me and In Your Eyes have experienced. Both are sophisticated pieces, composition and production wise…especially for the ‘popular’ music genre. Anyone familiar with either song would (I hope) agree.

    I saw TR in 1975 (’76?) at the Music Hall in Houston. All of his music was pre-recorded and played through a sound system that was placed on stage for him to physically play off of…an aural playground if you will. He used the sound system to run to…to run away from…to jump off of…to jump on to…mixing his vocals with his physicality and sound…a naked audio/visual experience – even his physical antics and live singing could not draw your attention from the enormous presence of ‘the sound.’

    He announced that this was the future of live entertainment: pre-recorded music with ‘live’ vocals only…leaving performers to ‘perform.’

    The audience was expectedly bewildered as we watched Todd’s athletic antics – shirtless – running, jumping from speaker to floor, speaker to speaker, racing around stage and through the maze of his his audio playground, for an hour and a half.

    The ‘sound’ itself was fantastic…or course…it was pre-recorded but we all scoffed at the notion that anyone in the future would consistently pay to see a solo artist merely ‘perform’ without a live band to back him/her.
    Waaaaay out there – oh yeah, baby….he was ‘there’….but waaaaay off? Nope.

    The rock gods were apparently watching that night – decided to change their evil ways and added live musicians back in the mix. I’m glad I experienced Todd that night – but it wasn’t intimacy – it was foresight and statement – which have always been and always will be as much of the musical message as notes and rhythm.


  2. When I watch this, I think, “Good friggin’ God, how epically effed up was Steven Tyler that Bebe Buell thought it was better to tell Liv that THIS DUDE with the peacock eyebrows and multi-colored hair was her dad?” But I love happy endings. Todd’s still one of the prides of Upper Darby, PA (Tina Fey, the other), and now Steven Tyler’s that scary weird old lesbian on American Idol!

  3. Great as usual (this from colossal ’80s-version of Utopia fan).
    But I agree with the other commenter, what if you DO have symptoms of pregnancy but it’s not pregnancy? What if there really is no baby to say, ‘hello, it’s me’?

  4. This song is simply a pop-music classic, and could have been written by Carol King, as it has all of her patented hooks (she, incidentally, has recorded a cover of it — emulation is, indeed, the highest form of flattery). Also love all of Rundgren’s work with Utopia, where he went WAY out on the prog trip, and check his production on the first New York Dolls LP (and the more recent NYD release). The cat covers every base and continues to sparkle and shine today. Good on ya, Runt!

  5. this is why i love this website. i was literally listening to something/anything and faithful, and i thought i would check to see what aquarium drunkard was up to, only to hear more todd! best site ever. it’s seriously an exact replica of my tastes.

  6. I watched Midnight Special and In Concert fairly regularly back then and this wasn’t shocking. Glam and other excess was pretty common at the time, although it represented a smaller slice of the bell curve I suppose. Bowie, Sparks, Alice Cooper, Cheap Trick, etc. were all of that period. Todd looks a little lire early made-up Eno in that vid.

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