Todd Rundgren, back in the day.
The more I read and hear about the devotion and especially the overall character of David’s fans (this was highlighted once again by the reports from Z100 regarding the number of calls and emails since yesterday’s announcement), the more I think of how similar it is to the nature of Todd Rundgren’s fans, a parallel I’ve mentioned before. Todd’s fans are (or were, at any rate) known for bestowing gifts onto the stage of his concerts throughout entire performances, until the proscenium was filled with flowers and packages and baskets. They cherished him, defended him, and protected him in much the same way I am seeing David’s fans do. I think it’s interesting to consider the similarities between these two artists and why their fan bases respond to them the way they do.
Todd Rundgren, for those of you who don’t know or need a refresher, is a singer-songwriter-musician-producer-innovator who, although by no means a hit-maker (by choice and by design, I suspect), has enjoyed a significant degree of chart success since the late 1960s with songs like “I Saw The Light” (1972), “Hello It’s Me” (1973), and “Can We Still Be Friends” (1978). Of particular interest is that in addition to being a consummate collaborator, some of Todd’s most successful and critically acclaimed albums have been entirely written, performed, and produced by the artist alone–and these are in many cases lush productions with multiple layers of instrumentation and vocals. I am reminded of David’s cross-disciplinary musical virtuosity.
But what seems most similar between the two is a certain, shall we say, “wise innocence” that pervades the musical character of their work. One of the most interesting things to me about Todd’s music has always been its ability to be unabashedly romantic (in the broadest sense) while maintaining a distinct intelligence that never allows it to veer into sentimentality or mawkishness. The result–and I find this extremely similar to what David is able to achieve–is that it empowers the listener to indulge in the pleasures of pop sensibility and yet be able to discover enormous depths of emotion in the process. People talk about spontaneous tears, seemingly out of nowhere, when listening to David Archuleta; Todd Rundgren’s music has done precisely the same thing for many people.
David’s studio version of Think of Me is a prime example (I know, I can’t stop writing about that performance, but I really believe it will go down in the Archuleta canon as one of the first glimpses of his true genius): A lovely show tune that David took into the realm of pop sensibility and for which he delivers a beautifully textured performance. But there are a series of moments in the last third of the piece that take this charming little confection to another level altogether. It’s as if a chasm opens beneath you and above you, and both the heights of glory and the depths of despair become one, and all of life is suddenly, momentarily, visible. Todd Rundgren accomplishes these kinds of revelations through his writing and production; David has so far been able to achieve it almost entirely with his voice alone.
Here are some examples of Todd’s wonderful work.
All the Children Sing
Hurting for You
Love of the Common Man
Hello It’s Me