Sunday, November 20, 2011

Song #23 of 9999 - Hello, It's Me by Todd Rundgren

Song #23 of 9999

Title: Hello, It's Me
Artist: Todd Rundgren
Year: 1972
Album: Something/Anything?

Today, I heard a cover of this song by a little-known, but national, recording artist I really like. Despite the fact that this guy has a terrific voice, all I could think about while listening is just how hard this song is to sing and play. Which, by the way, is not the feeling you want to give your audience while performing. I've had that feeling before, most notably watching several productions of West Side Story (even a Broadway production),where the singers just couldn't pull off making the songs sound effortless, which is essential to allowing a listener forget who he is for a moment and just bask in the brilliance of a song.

Todd Rundgren has that ability. His catalog is hit or miss, but there is no denying that this local boy has pipes. One of the few white artists (along with Daryl Hall) to master the Philly Soul sound that emerged in the early 1970s, this is supposedly the first song Rundgren ever wrote! It's an amazing pop music achievement in terms of its creative chord structure and key changes and it has a very clever deviation from 4/4 in the bridge (on the words "never want to make you change for me"). I also love the vocal harmonies, which have some nice close intervals and are perfectly performed. The song also features Randy and Michael Brecker on trumpet and tenor saxophone.

Amazingly, "Hello, It's Me" will celebrate it's 40th birthday in 2012. It should certainly be regarded as one of the great pop classics of the modern era. If you can't get enough of the song, check out this earlier version recorded in 1968 when Rundgren fronted the group Nazz.

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