Hello It’s Me
Writer(s): Todd Rundgren (see lyrics here)
Released: November 1972
First Charted: September 28, 1973
Peak: 5 US, 2 CB, 6 GR, 4 HR, 8 RR, 17 AC, 2 AR, 1 CO, 17 CN, 68 AU, 1 DF (Click for codes to charts.)
Sales (in millions): --
Airplay/Streaming (in millions): 3.0 radio, 60.5 video, 36.4 streaming
Click on award for more details.
About the Song:
Singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Todd Rundgren formed his first band, Nazz, in 1967 when he was 19 years old. The first song he ever wrote, “Hello It’s Me,” was inspired by a failed high school relationship. Todd got dumped rather casually and he wrote a song about how he would have preferred her breaking up with him – in a sensitive phone call. He ended up flipping the perspective so that the guy breaks off the relationship and walks the listener through one side of a phone call in which “he hashes out why they can’t be together and lets her know that she should have her freedom.” SF
Rundgren said the song’s chord progression was taken from the introduction of a rendition of “When Johnny Comes Marching Home by jazz organist Jimmy Smith. SF He said, “Those changes became what are the changes underneath ‘Hello It’s Me.’ [They] are actually almost lifted literally from something that was, from Jimmy Smith’s standpoint, a throwaway.” WK
The “dirge-like version with lead vocals by Stewkey Antoni” SF was released as the B-side to “Open My Eyes” in July 1968. However, Boston radio station WMEX started playing “Hello” instead and other stations followed suit. The song eventually reached #66 on the Billboard Hot 100.
Nazz released two studio albums before Rundgren departed for a solo career. He got his first taste of top-40 success with “We Gotta Get You a Woman,” a #20 hit in 1970. His second solo album gave him two more minor hits before he broke through with his greatest mainstream success on 1972’s Something/Anything? The album produced the #16 hit “I Saw the Light” (which is the one Rundgren thought would be his first hit) DT and a minor chart entry with “Couldn’t I Just Tell You.”
Then came a new, mid-tempo recording of “Hello It’s Me” which Rundgren called “just a dense arrangement of simple parts.” TB It was released as the album’s third single in November 1972. It didn’t catch on however, until it was reissued in August 1973 – by which time Rundgren had already released another album. The song rose to #5 on Billboard Hot 100, giving Rundgren the biggest hit of his career. He chose to reject commercial music after that and pursued “cultish credibility instead.” TB
In 1998, the song was used significantly in the pilot episode of That ‘70s Show. It was also played during the end credits of the show’s series finale in 2006. Mary J. Blige, Erykah Badu, the Isley Brothers, and Matthew Sweet & Susanna Hoffs have covered the song.
First posted 3/11/2023; last updated 4/1/2023.