“It’s important to meeeeeeeeee…that you know you are freeeeeeeeeeee…”
“Hello, It’s Me” is dedicated to someone who wants to be a free spirit. I can appreciate the lyrical sentiment; wanting to love and enjoy someone for the time you share as opposed to thinking of them as belonging to you. It was the first song Rundgren ever wrote, and it bugs me the hell out that anyone’s first foray into songwriting could sound so accomplished. Apparently “Hello” was originally recorded by Rundgren’s group The Nazz in 1968 (I haven’t heard that version), but Todd recorded a slower, more soulful version of it and that’s the one that most folks are familiar with.
However, it wasn’t the first version of “Hello It’s Me” that I heard. The Isley Brothers (who were the kings of remaking soft rock songs in the ’70s) took Rundgren’s tune, slowed it down and made it sultrier. Ronald Isley’s voice oozes like butter over his brother Ernie’s guitar licks, and their version of “Hello” became a slow jam standard. I assume I heard it on some Quiet Storm show during my formative years, not knowing that it was a cover. This song is a full mood, y’all. No one has ever made the word “hello” sound so sexy.
You can’t go wrong with either version.