Todd Rundgren and an all-star crew are re-recording his 1973 anthem “Just One Victory” and giving it away for free to Democrats all over America running for public office this year. It’s still early in the process, but Joe Walsh, Daryl Hall, and Paul Shaffer have already pledged to join the effort along with producer Don Was.
“Everyone is trying to figure out what they can do to get that maniac out of the White House,” Rundgren says on the phone from his house on the Hawaiian island of Kauai. “More importantly, to get the banana Republican Party out of governing wherever possible. The song will be available to any Democratic candidate that’s been approved by the DNC to use at for campaigns and at their rallies. They can also use it in a commercial if they so desire.”
“Just One Victory” originally appeared as the final track on Rundgren’s 1973 LP, A Wizard, a True Star. The former Nazz singer had just scored huge solo hits with “Hello It’s Me” and “I Saw the Light,” but he was eager to take his music in a different direction.
“I wanted to stop writing so-called ‘love songs’ because I had been writing about a relationship I had in high school that was long over,” he says. “It was insincere songwriting. I didn’t want to write ‘babe you broke my heart’ over and over. And ‘Just One Victory’ was one of the initial stabs I took at writing something that was meant to address a larger audience rather than just the lonely person inside you.”
“Just One Victory” wasn’t a single, but it became a fan favorite over the years and is often the last song Rundgren plays at his concerts. When he started thinking about a song he could give to Democrats for the election, it became the obvious choice.
Joe Walsh, Daryl Hall, Paul Shaffer, and Don Was signed on quickly, but Rundgren hopes that is only the beginning. “Let’s go for ‘We Are the World,’ ” he says. “Not many people know about it at this particular moment, especially because just as we were getting into the project this huge distraction [of the virus] came along. We are waiting for everyone to settle down from that before we refocus on the political and start actively soliciting some performances.”
Guest artists on the song don’t need to be musicians or even musically inclined. “We’ve spoken to a number of nonmusicians that just want to sing along to the chorus at the end,” Rundgren says. “They can carry a tune, but they don’t have to be known as a musician or even have any prowess as a musician. It’s never really been about that. It’s been about showing some unity behind a candidate or a slate of candidates that are trying to turn things back around.”
Rundgren is essentially stranded in Kauai until the coronavirus situation winds down, which means that Was will play a large role in assembling the various guest contributions into a completed track. “He and I will go over everything and figure out who goes best in which part of the song,” Rundgren says. “But I don’t imagine that this project will be finished or nearing completion until June or so.”
Once that happens, any Democrat will have access to the song; they won’t have to pay a dime, not even to ASCAP or BMI. “It’s really the kind of thing to get people hyped up and ready to go out and vote,” Rundgren says. “That’s because we cannot go on like this. The banana Republican Party is an organized crime syndicate and it has permeated every level of government at this point. And so it isn’t enough to get rid of Trump. You have to get rid of all of them. They all have to go.”