To the average listener, “All I Want” by Toad the Wet Sprocket sounds like a song about finding total bliss, with a seemingly joyful lyric: “All I want is to feel this way, to be this close, to feel the same.”
However, words can be deceiving, as Toad’s lead singer Glen Phillips cautions, “’All I Want’ is not as happy of a song as you might think; it is actually about moments of clarity that you experience, and how quickly they fade away.” In reference to that elusive moment, Glen laments, “I figured it out, and it’s gone.”
A Rocky Recording Experience for Glen Phillips
The recording of “All I Want” was also not a very pleasant experience; in fact, it was one that almost brought Glen to tears. “The recording of ‘All I Want’ was a very difficult process. We kept having issues with the guitar parts. We tried repeatedly, but it just wouldn’t sound right. I was really frustrated over it,” Glen recalled. After much trial and error, the band finally ascertained that the culprit was an out of tune bass, and the problem was solved.
“All I Want” Had Mass Appeal
“All I Want” was released in 1992 as the second single from Toad the Wet Sprocket’s third studio album, Fear. It was a mass appeal hit that found its way onto the charts of several radio formats:
- Peaking at #4 on the Billboard Mainstream Top 40 chart;
- #14 on the Billboard Adult Contemporary chart;
- #22 on the Billboard Alternative chart;
- #15 on the Billboard Hot 100;
- #53 on the Billboard Year-End chart for 1992;
- and #11 on the Top Singles chart in Canada.
From Fictional Band to the Real Thing
The name Toad the Wet Sprocket is certainly a unique moniker for a music group, to say the least. And it actually wasn’t Glen and his bandmates who came up with the name. Toad the Wet Sprocket was actually the name of a fictitious band that was created by renowned comedian Eric Idle, for a sketch that he wrote and starred in for Monty Python. The band members were big Monty Python fans and chose the name just before they went on stage for their first gig because they thought it would be funny. It was intended to be a temporary name, but it became, what Glen called, “a joke that went on too long.” After all, when Eric Idle came up with the name for the band for the Python sketch called “Rock Notes,” he never imagined that a real band would actually use the name, let alone retain it. Idle recalled the first time he heard about the real Toad the Wet Sprocket. He was driving on a Los Angeles freeway when a song came on the radio and the DJ announced that the song was “by Toad the Wet Sprocket.” Idle was so shocked that he nearly crashed the car.
“All I Want” was Toad the Wet Sprocket’s highest charting tune on the Billboard Hot 100; however, the success of the track was bittersweet. The band struggled with the song being, what Glen called, “too pop,” which led to their near decision not to put the song on the album. It’s sometimes a fine line for a rock band to walk, between being commercial enough to attract more people to their music, yet not being perceived as “selling out” by their core fans that have been ardent supporters from the beginning. That was a real dilemma for Toad the Wet Sprocket. “We thought of ourselves as being an indie rock band,” Glen explained. “We were worried about how we perceived ourselves, and how we would be categorized in the music industry.”
Putting “All I Want” on the album turned out to be the right move, with the song even finding its way into pop culture, including being featured in episodes of TV shows like Doogie Howser, M.D., Homeland, Dawson’s Creek, and Reunion.
Toad the Wet Sprocket split up in 1998, and Glen began a solo career. He released the first of eight solo studio records in 2000, with his album entitled Abulum.
Toad the Wet Sprocket Reformation
Glen and the original band members got back together for several reunion gigs in 2006 and made their reformation official in 2010. In 2013, the band released New Constellation, which was their first studio album of new material since 1997. They continue to tour extensively around the world.