If I Could Only Take One

My desert island song by Utopia

Alrighty, it’s Wednesday and time again to prep for another imaginary desert island trip. Of course, in the context of this recurring feature, this means I need to pick another song to take with me – one bloody tune, not an album, though I’m not suggesting the latter would be much easier.

Plus, there are a few additional rules. The tune must be by an artist or band I’ve only rarely written about or not covered at all. And I’m doing the silly exercise in alphabetical order.

This week I’m up to “u”. Artists (last name) and bands starting with that letter include U2, UFO, Ultravox, Umphrey’s McGee, Uncle Kracker, Uncle Tupelo, Utopia and Uriah Heep. Given my above rules, U2 and Uriah Heep are out. I also just recently wrote about Umphrey’s McGee. And since I don’t feel like dancing with tears in my eyes, Ultravox are out as well.

This still leaves me with four choices, none of which I’ve covered to date. And my pick is Utopia, aka Todd Rundgren’s Utopia. Now that I’ve figured out the artist/band, the question is which song to pick? Love Is the Answer.

Written by Todd Rundgren, Love Is the Answer is a tune from Utopia’s third studio album Oops! Wrong Planet, released in September 1977. Initially, the pop-oriented song missed the charts. Two years later, American soft rock duo England Dan & John Ford Coley recorded a version of the tune and took it to no. 1 in the U.S. on the Billboard Adult Contemporary Chart. It also reached no. 10 on the mainstream pop chart Hot 100. Sounds very yachty!

Following are some additional tidbits from Songfacts:

Todd Rundgren wrote this hopeful song about the power of love for his band Utopia, which released it on their 1977 album Oops! Wrong Planet. The song became a hit in 1979 when England Dan & John Ford Coley recorded a slicker version perfect for the adult contemporary market, and scored their last of six US Top 40 hits with their cover.

In our 2015 interview with Todd Rundgren, he explained that Utopia’s Oops! Wrong Planet was a “bummer album,” and that they included this song on it to make it more uplifting. [Perhaps that made Rundgren want to bang the drum all day? CMM]

Todd Rundgren performed this song when he toured as part of Ringo Starr’s “All Starr Band” in 2015. Ringo insists on three hits from his guests, and along with “I Saw The Light” and “Bang the Drum All Day,” he wanted Todd to do “Hello It’s Me.” Rundgren didn’t think that one was a good fit in the set, as it’s a very introspective song and Ringo’s shows are very communal. Todd convinced him to go with “Love Is The Answer,” which he thought was the perfect song for Ringo – “Mr. Peace And Love” as Rundgren calls him. The plan worked: the song went over very well at these shows and fit the vibe perfectly.

Sources: Wikipedia; Songfacts; YouTube

14 thoughts on “If I Could Only Take One”

  1. If I was Ringo I would have made him do I Saw the Light, Hello it’s Me and Can We Still Be Friends. And I would have made him do Love is the Answer probably fourth. Because I like that one too. Actually , those are all kind of mellow so he should have done Real Man or maybe We Gotta Get You a Woman, because those would be more rousing concert numbers. Right? lol

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  2. Even though many wrote them off as too bland or middle of the road, but I liked England Dan & John Ford Coley’s songs. That said, while I like both versions of this song, I do agree that Todd Rundgren’s original has more oomph, if that’s the right word here.

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  3. wow, first you remembered more “U’s” than I could off the top of my head. I was thinking “U2, Ultravox, UB40 (Midge) Ure…that’s it”. But I remember this tune and band, I like it and the England Dan one about as much as each other, which is to say quite a bit. I remember the song ‘One World’ by utopia too, in the early, AOL, days of internet I was in an e-mail music game where you’d get mailed a 10 second clip of a song every day (which took about 5 minutes to download with dial up) and try to guess it. That Utopia song was one I was the only one out of a 100 to get! Which was a rarity for me.

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    1. Well, I did a bit of research, so can’t claim it was all in my head. I think initially, I remembered U2, UFO, Ultravox, Umphrey’s McGee (only because I had recently covered them!) and Uriah Heep. With some letters, it can definitely be tricky!

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  4. Don’t know any version of this song. Nice stuff. Certainly know Todd. In fact, he’s playing here in a couple of nights at the same theater where I saw Jon Anderson. He’s the kinda guy where if a friend said, “Hey do you wanna see Todd?” I’d probably go, otherwise no. I notice he started his set with this great tune recently. Don’t know how many people in a Ringo (or even Todd) audience would know it but it’s a great tune from his earlier band, Nazz.

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