The inspiration for this song's lyric is a music executive named Paul Fishkin, who managed Rundgren's pre-Nazz group Woody's Truck Stop and worked at the Bearsville label with him. He and Rundgren became good friends, and they spent much of the summer of 1969 enjoying everything Manhattan had to offer. Fishkin didn't have much luck with the ladies, which is what Rundgren wrote the song about.
With the line, "They may be stupid, but they sure are fun," this song ran headlong into the feminist movement of the early '70s and caused quite a bit of controversy; a female music director at a Detroit radio station spoke out against the song, and a college radio station in Connecticut came under fire for playing it.
According to Rundgren, the song was widely misinterpreted, with the offending line typically taken out of context. "Just because I used the word 'stupid,' they think I was referring to women," Rundgren told Red Bull Music Academy. "I'm not referring to women, I'm talking about stupid little characteristics that people have."
In our interview with Todd Rundgren
, we asked him why he named the character in this song "Leroy." "I just couldn't figure out how to make a clever rhyme with the word Paul," he replied. "'Hey, y'all Paul' – maybe I could've done that. But it was just a name I picked out of the air."
This classic piano-pop song was written by Todd Rundgren and performed with him and his temporary backing band, Runt, which he basically shed after this debut album to just be considered a solo artist. This is not to downplay the contribution of Hunt and Tony Sales (the other Runts, also the sons of comedian Soupy Sales), but aside from their contribution of drums and bass, Rundgren wrote, sang, arranged, played, and produced the whole effort.
Oh, yeah, and considering that Rundgren also did "Bang the Drum All Day
," we apologize for the irony short-circuit in that banging the drums was one of the only two things he did not
do on Runt
Runt was Todd Rundgren's debut solo album, named for his (unkind) childhood nickname, "Todd Runt Green." After leaving his band the Nazz, Rundgren signed with Albert Grossman's organization to do production work. Grossman managed many of the top acts, and put Todd to work on projects for The Band, Janis Joplin, and several other artists. Rundgren wanted to keep writing songs and working on his own material, however, so Grossman commissioned his solo album through his Bearsville Records (the album ended up being issued on Ampex Records in a joint venture). The label was pleasantly surprised when Rundgren delivered that album, since it contained an obvious hit: "We Gotta Get You A Woman." The song was released as a single, and made #20 US, setting the stage for Rundgren's successful solo career.
The song has a very unusual structure, which is a byproduct of Rundgren's self-taught musical upbringing. There are lots of little breaks and modulations that surround the four repetitions of the chorus. There's also an interesting payoff at the end, where instead of just fading out the last chorus, Rundgren delivers a line that puts the song in a whole new context: "When we're through with you, we'll get me one too." There's a lot packed into the song's 3:04 running time.
After this single became a hit, publisher label Ampex decided to press more copies of the LP. Except that they accidentally sent a 12-track master which had previously been rejected. 5000 albums were pressed before the mistake was discovered, at which point they just figured, what the heck let them sell.
Three years after this song was released, another song featuring a character named "Leroy" appeared: Jim Croce's "Bad, Bad Leroy Brown
," which was a #1 hit in America. Croce's song is about a real Leroy - a guy he met while serving in the National Guard.
Even though it's one of his biggest hits, Rundgren hardly ever played this song live. In the 2010s, he performed it from time to time with various orchestras, including at shows with the Metropole Orchestra in Holland and the Akron Symphony Orchestra. He left it out of his setlist when he toured to support his 1972 album Something/Anything?.
Rundgren makes reference to this song in the liner notes to his Something/Anything?
album when he dedicates the song "I Saw The Light
" to Paul Fishkin, who he writes is "The man with the 45 ears (but still no woman)."