I Saw The Light

Album: Something/Anything? (1972)
Charted: 36 16
Play Video


  • 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." >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Mike - Santa Barbara, CA
  • Talking about the impact this song had on Rundgren's songwriting, he said: "I wrote this song in 15 minutes from start to finish. It was one of the reason 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 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."
  • 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."
  • Louise Goffin covered this for the 2022 Todd Rundgren tribute album Someone/Anyone?, the brainchild of Echo In The Canyon producer Fernando Perdomo. Net profits from sales of the album benefit Rundgren's Spirit Of Harmony foundation, which supports music education.

Comments: 16

  • Jeff Dean from Lithgow Nsw AustraliaThis is one of my favourite songs of all time.
  • Evan from Baltimore, MdThis song was released three months before my father died of a massive heart attack at age 46. I was just 11 years old when it happened. After my father's death in 1972, that year was a blur for me, but this song is forever intertwined with my memory of my father and the profound sorrow I felt then. Yet, whenever I hear it now I can smile because I recall liking it instantly and it helps me remember how much I loved him.
  • Sandy from Sydney Australia I heard this song playing in a shop the other day and it took me straight back to 1972 when I first met my now deseased husband. I loved the song then and although I haven’t heard it for years, I still think it’s a great love song. So many memories.
  • Gary from LondonIt's such a beautiful song but it always lands me back in Galway in 1979 as a doomed relationship was playing out its last few miserable scenes
  • Rhino Djanghardt from EnglandI just heard the song as I was driving to work and whacked up the volume. I was so sure it was by George Harrison! The voice and slide guitar playing are so similar to Harrison's. Now I'm going to dust off a Todd Rundgren LP when I get home ...
  • Mark from MichiganI've always called this the quintessential 3 minute love song.
  • Brett from Piketon, OhAlways will remind me of my dad! He played this song when I was little in the car all the time!
  • Brian from Boston, MaI had just assumed that Carol King wrote this for many years but I recently saw on Wikepedia that todd wrote this as an homage to Carol King.It is amazing how much it sounds like something she would write.
  • Sarah from Kennewick, WaOh, I love this song so much. It's so great because it's realistic and I think most people can relate--we've all been burned by love in the past, ran out on love in the past, thought we would never find anyone special...then when you least expect it, here comes this wonderful person! Beautiful song about how love sometimes sneaks up on you.
  • Lee from Huntsville, Alto me the song is about a guy and girl relationship n the guy goes in to it with no emotional expectation but gets a vibe from the girl that there is more to it and he sees it in hers eyes and then eventually she can see the same from his eyes. it's all in the eyes...the window to the soul. a really well written love song
  • John from Andover, KsA great song, and one of Rundgren's best vocal efforts. Really one of the best pop songs of the early 70s.
  • Federico from Mendoza, ArmeniaHello, I live in Argentina. Hce a little time while lead my car I heard in the radio this song and the recollections of my adolescence came suddenly to my head. This ballad was making me dream and always I was sorry that Todd was not very spread then here, being a great musician to sorrow that in Argentina there is listened good music, foreigner and place. put my 17-year-old daughter opposite to the computer and I her did oir Todd's songs and it(he,she) commented! Bark papi that good song! It is magnificent to share music with the children.
    Federico, Mendoza, Argentina
  • Weavil from Wisconsin Rapids, WiTodd also re-did this Bossa Nova style as as the opening TRack for 1997's "With A Twist" http://trconnection.com/lyrics/Title.44.
    One of the first songs with harmony guitars to reach the masses, this number sparked a note in the head of Tom Scholtz who went on to form Boston and fire up harmony guitar lines in almost every song.
    This is also performed by The New Cars with Todd and Elliot Easton intertwining said lines quite nicely.
  • Debra Derr from Dover, NjThis was covered by Hal Ketchum on his 1998 album, "I Saw The Light." It's a straight ahead homage to Todd, with just a little twang. Great cover.
  • Brent from Miami, FlGreat, great song !!!
  • Matt from Atlanta, United StatesTodd Rungren at his very best. My wife doesn't remember this song, so I play it every chance I get on those rare occasions when we're all alone!!!

    Actually, it pretty much sums up my feelings for her when we first met in college. Falling in love was the last thing on my mind, and we had a really rough go at it! I just couldn't fathom going steady, much less falling head over heel's. Clearly, she got the last laugh!!!

    Matt - Atlanta
see more comments

Editor's Picks

David Clayton-Thomas of Blood, Sweat & Tears

David Clayton-Thomas of Blood, Sweat & TearsSongwriter Interviews

The longtime BS&T frontman tells the "Spinning Wheel" story, including the line he got from Joni Mitchell.

Judas Priest

Judas PriestSongwriter Interviews

Rob Halford, Richie Faulkner and Glenn Tipton talk twin guitar harmonies and explain how they create songs in Judas Priest.

Dave Mason

Dave MasonSongwriter Interviews

Dave reveals the inspiration for "Feelin' Alright" and explains how the first song he ever wrote became the biggest hit for his band Traffic.

Rick Astley

Rick AstleySongwriter Interviews

Rick Astley on "Never Gonna Give You Up," "Cry For Help," and his remarkable resurgence that gave him another #1 UK album.

Adam Young of Owl City

Adam Young of Owl CitySongwriter Interviews

Is Owl City on a quest for another hit like "Fireflies?" Adam answers that question and explains the influences behind many others.

Mick Jones of Foreigner

Mick Jones of ForeignerSongwriter Interviews

Foreigner's songwriter/guitarist tells the stories behind the songs "Juke Box Hero," "I Want To Know What Love Is," and many more.