Singring and the Glass Guitar

EPSON scanner imageRA, Bearsville Records, 1977
Composer: Todd Rundgren/Roger Powell/Kasim Sulton/John Wilcox
Duration: 18:21
(An Electrified Fairy Tale)

This is an electrified fairy tale. If you’ve never heard of an electrified
fairy tale, just picture little fairies with wee tiny electric guitars.

Once upon a time [not long ago] in a land not far from here, there was a place
called Harmony. Everyone in Harmony was happy and this joie de vivre was
guarded by their invisible patron, the muse Singring. But jealous forces, and
there are always jealous forces in such tales, have conspired to capture the
spirit, imprisoning it in [an instrument of glass, locking it in] a chest with
four keys, and casting the keys to the four corners of the earth so that only
four particularly brave and talented individuals might retrieve them. It is
here that our story begins.

There’s a rumor I heard that’s going ’round town
Someone’s captured Singring, Singring
Come hear the news, come hurry on down
Down to the old town square
The announcer wipes at his eyes, he’s trying to hide
See it in his face, tell by his expression
The secret knowledge that claws to escape as he cried
Day of infamy, someone’s captured Singring
Day of tragedy, someone’s captured Singring
Now what shall we do, what shall we do now?
And if you take a look around, Harmony is dying
Someone trapped the spirit in a glass guitar
And if you listen with your heart, you can hear it crying
Free me from my crystal prison in this glass guitar

There’s a rumor I heard that’s going around
Someone’s saving Singring, Singring
Come hear the summons, hurry on down
Down to the village green
And the spokesman speaks for us all, together we call
Brave adventurers, warriors, and free men
Conquer self and so in the end save us all
Conquer earth and wind, conquer fire and water
Brave adventurers, come and save us all
And if you fail to win the keys, Harmony is dying
Trapped away forever in a glass guitar
And if you listen with your heart, you can hear it crying
Free me from my crystal prison in this glass guitar

Having gathered on the green, the brave adventurers of the land march off in
search of the keys. Their quest leads them first to the river’s edge.

Lead me to the water
Pass me my flagon of wine
I said show me to the water
Quick before I change my mind
I go down to the river and bravely the rapids I row
Over the falls to the bottomless pool
and it’s down to the bottom I go

Only one has the courage to dive into the river and brave the bottomless pool
in search of the first key.

Let the four winds blow icy breath before me
Storms will never keep me from the glass guitar
Hurricanes may scream, I will never feel it
‘Til I find the key that leads me to the glass guitar

Only one has the courage to wander the desert [alone] and brave the eternal
winds in search of the second key

Fire can never burn me
Flames cannot catch me – faster am I
Blazes never faze me
Barefoot I walk hot coals for a mile
My sword is tempered; my loins are girded in steel
Make my way to the heart of the forest of flames
And if I do my best and don’t stop to rest
I may pass the test and capture the key that opens the chest

Only one has the courage to make his way into the forest of flames and brave
the fire-breathing dragon in search of the third key.

I will climb the face of the highest mountain
Whilst Singring calls crying from the glass guitar
Though the earth may shake let the planet tremble
Steady will I struggle onward to the glass guitar

Only one has the courage to climb to the top of the highest mountain in search
of the fourth key.

Having scaled the mountain and finding no key, the climber begins chopping
madly at the ground with his pickax, causing the mountain to split in two,
revealing the last key.

Now in possession of all four keys, the brave adventurers march triumphantly
into the valley of silence to open the chest, smash the glass guitar, and free
the spirit of Harmony.

Very rare video footage of Live Performance with the RA pyramid, 1977

(Note: the pyramid climb begins at the 7:40 minute mark.)

Photo Archive

Todd Rundgren’s Utopia Ra Tour, Merriweather Post Pavillion in Maryland. Photos by: Mike Stein. Due to the stage lighting at the shows, photos documenting the performances are exceedingly rare. Thank you very much, Rick Stein, who scanned and archived his brother’s slides to share with the Spirit of Harmony.