Hearing Aide: Todd Rundgren “Global”

Todd Rundgren released his 25th album, Global, on April 7 and immediately set out on a 34 date North American tour. Having had the pleasure of seeing Todd in concert several times, reading some of the early reviews didn’t surprise me at all. If you expect to hear “I Saw The Light,” “Can We Still Be Friends” and “Hello, It’s Me,” TR never disappoints, but, he may make you wait and tease you a few times before giving in. I grabbed a couple of quotes from a good friend’s Facebook posting post-show, before delving deeper.

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“Todd always brings his own cutting edge and set his own parameters, very few artists are this talented and confident. If fans struggle with change and evolution, they should choose another artist to follow.”

“It takes a lot of courage as a fan to follow him with an open-mind, but the rewards are worth the effort”, Tommy Allen.

“Just a killer show, filled with positive energy from the girls (The Global Singers) and the DJ (DaM FunK). Todd was in fantastic voice and delivered all of the songs with passion. The choreography and light show turned the whole thing into a very immersive experience. Don’t listen to the bad reviews on the internet, this is a very unique and futuristic show,” said Mark Doyle.

Honestly, it took several spins of Global to get the feel, but being familiar with his previous release, State, it warmed me quicker to the work. The opener, “Evrybody” sounds like a slap in the face to the entitled or a call to arms for the populace. Either way it sets the tone for the album. As on most albums, it’s all Todd, all of the time. Almost exactly the way he would take it on tour. “Flesh & Blood,” another EDM-like tome that pokes fun at DJs while showing what really can be done electronically with real lyrics that have something to say. The verses sting, the chorus, “You’ve got free will, but you’re flesh and blood” simplifies and drives the message. Keep in mind this man is one of the fathers of multi-media, usually several steps ahead of the game, ultimately disenfranchising some. A pity really. “Rise” is right to the heart of the state of things, yes, globally. He speaks directly to the Romanesque status of civilization, “Time’s ticking away, time keeps ticking away. If we don’t rise, then we will fall.” Pretty simple and right on the point. This leads into “Holyland,” a rhythmic adventure into the definition of what that is exactly. Everything. If this track doesn’t hit home, you’re simply not paying attention.

“Blind” slows the pace a blue-eyed, soulful bit and illuminates the false-flag of media. “I’m not a scientist, everybody likes to brag these days. And yet they still insist, twisting all the facts their way.”  Directly aimed at climate-change deniers, god-trusting book wavers, that believe all will be taken care of for them, perhaps still on the entitled ones. Shielding their eyes from the reality in front of them. “You have to be blind, blind, blind. Eyes that will not see it. (Writing’s on the wall.)” “Earth Mother” kicks back into EDM as a anthemic call to action, from a Rosa Parks reference to the choruses repeated message, “Can I get a shout-out from my sisters, a shout out from my girls. Now go out there and change the world. “Global Nation” flows right into the theme of one world, one cause, one solution. “Calling out to the planet, calling out to the world. (Global Nation) I wanna wrap my arms around the world, wrap my arms around the world and dance.”

TR always has his moment when his heart bleeds out, “Soothe” is this record’s example. His lyrical emotions move you, the timbre of his wavering voice speaks directly to the listener, whomever it may be. Something TR does exquisitely. This is chicken-skin arms material. “Maybe I can’t make gray skies turn blue, but I can soothe you. When your lovers are untrue. And the whole world seems out to hurt you. Know that I would try, everything I knew, to soothe you. I will soothe you.” “Terra Firma” sequences forward analogously as a tale of the intrepid explorer casting-off to someplace unknown. With solid ground being the love and home he left behind, “I am off to great adventures, leaving you behind. Far beyond the border and I have no clue what I will find. But the thought of home never leaves my mind, no. Though the minutes stretch to hours and the hours stretch to days. With the trials and tribulations, well it seems like I’m so far away. And it’s just too high a price to pay. There’s one thing I can always say. Whenever I feel the rain I put my faith in terra firma. And I’m never far away, because you’re my terra firma. (terra firma) Whenever I feel alone, I go home to terra firma. (terra firma) The place I can call my own, because you’re my terra firma (terra firma).”

“Fate” poses destiny as a card game and addiction that everyone seemingly has. The future being out of our hands like a roulette wheel spinning out of control. No one wants to face up to the realities of our time, it’s easier to rely on fate than make an effort to change. Manifest destiny, worldwide. “Skyscraper” shines the light on the trappings of civilization. Buildings and cars, partying with friends, living in the moment with no regard for what’s ahead. “This Island Earth” closes and wraps it all up, neatly exposing what needs to be for change to happen, allowing the future a chance to exist beyond man’s current course. “There is no other place in this universe, like this island earth. We fantasize about this spoiling other planets, like this island earth.”

When taken as a whole, this album is yet another message from a very old soul, living on the cutting edge of technology. Drawing distinct lines between reality and fantasy, fate and destiny, what can and cannot be. A statement from one of the bravest, deepest songwriters of our time that is not to be ignored.

Of course TR has multiple platforms to read and learn from. Check out more on facebook and his website.

Key Tracks: They’re all key tracks, it’s Todd Rundgren! Check out “Terra Firma” and “Soothe,” they crush.