Essentials: Kim Wilde on Todd Rundgren

Lots of people have inspired me to take up song-writing, but one has been a special influence – Todd Rundgren. I first came across him when I was going out with a huge Rundgren fan who played me All The Children Sing, still one of my favourites. It’s so uplifting. After that I was off and running and started to collect all his songs.
What I love most of all about Todd Rundgren are his lyrics; he writes so conversationally – about everyday things like the people he meets – but in a very perceptive way. He paints a picture in your mind – with lots of colour, lots of drama, and lots and lots of honesty and emotion. He’s just an incredibly talented songwriter and I’d think that most major songwriters would tip a hat in his direction.
Todd Rundgres has an amazing vocal range as well as an excellent grasp of melody. And I love that voice which seems to come from a very remote part of his soul – it doesn’t sound like it’s coming out of his throat, but from somewhere far more interesting. Rundgren is obviously a multi-talented musician – he plays everything. I saw him perform a few months ago in London where he stood in what looked a bit like a space-ship. He was working with sample sounds and loops and inviting musicians up on to the stage to join in. It wasn’t that well-attended, but it was one of the most fantastic, exciting gigs I’ve ever been to.
His music doesn’t really fit into any category – he was experimenting a lot with rap and dance rhythms, but then he’d do something jazzy or with just him playing the piano. In his way his approach and philosophy to music are similar to mine in that he wfeels that labels are not necessary. People are probably going to say my new album has a soul/dance feel to it, but I don’t like talking about direction too much because I like all kinds of music – I don’t really want to be pegeon-holed.
And, finally, I fancy him quite bad – he’s my ideal guy in that he’s mad, talented, spiritual and very compelling. I’ve never met him, but I’m sure I’d be very shy if I did.

Essential Rundgren songs

Can we still be friends?
A really plain song to someone he’s just split up with. There are so many people who love someone, but can’t live with them. This is such an honest song which communicates that emotion. Much better than most songs I’ve heard on the subject.

He left me sore
This one’s very funny – it’s a great title – I love the melody and I really love his sense of humour, there’s so much wit in his music.

Parallel Lines
It’s on the Nearly Human album – which is a must-have. Parallel Lines is one of the most beautiful songs I’ve heard in my life. I nearly cries when I first heard it. Fantastic backing vocals, beautiful voices. He’s so good at vocal arrangements.

Lucky Guy
It’s from the Hermit of Mink Hollow album. I covered this song, which was quite stressful because his version is so supreme and mine was really just a tribute to him. I just desperately wanted to sing it and I think I did a good version. It is written from a man’s point of view, so singing it from a woman’s point of view gives it a new twist.

All the children sing
My first Todd Rundgren song.