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“Mr. Blue Sky”

Posted by purplemary54 on June 17, 2013

I was inspired in part by a goofy story my aunt & uncle told about getting high at an ELO concert, presumably in the 70s (apparently the joint was laced with PCP), and partly by the fact that my sister-in-law likes ELO.  Me?  I can count the number of Electric Light Orchestra songs on my iPod on one hand.  Luckily, this is one of them.

Of course, they really only have me until the last minute of the song, when they veer off into a seemingly incongruous instrumental coda/fade out.  I’m not entirely sure how it was supposed to operate on the original album.  According to my rather sketchy research, “Mr. Blue Sky” was the final track on Side 3 of the double album Out of the Blue.  Jeff Lynne, who is something of a mad scientist in the studio, liked to experiment in symphonic rock (which is apparently prog rock that’s even more pretentious than standard prog rock, see here for what little information Wikipedia has).  Side 3 was subtitled “Concerto for a Rainy Day,” and was a song cycle meant to represent the weather and emotions.  I’ve never heard the rest, so I have no idea if it worked as music or not (anyone with firsthand knowledge is welcome to chime in with their opinions).  “Mr. Blue Sky” works for the most part, it’s insanely catchy and infectiously happy.  It’s virtually impossible not to smile and feel a little brighter listening to this song–which, now that I think about it, might be a clue about how well the rest of the “Concerto” worked.

I like Jeff Lynne a lot.  His music is slick without being sterile, radio ready without being completely insipid or devoid of feeling.  I might not be a huge ELO fan, but I really appreciate the skill of the music.  And watching this clip shows me just how much of an orchestra this band really was.  Now, I know that the band was really just Jeff Lynne and a bunch of guys playing with him, but it takes a lot of work to get a sound like this right.  These guys might not have had any lasting fame outside of the band, but they were great in it.  But what really makes this clip awesome is that Jeff Lynne isn’t wearing his signature sunglasses in it.  I didn’t even know he had eyes.  I figured it was just some kind of weird, electronic musical notation device that helped him write and produce so much excellent music.  Oh, wait.  He does have something like that.  It’s called his brain.

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8 Responses to ““Mr. Blue Sky””

  1. sandee said

    I love ELO! They remind me of highschool, especially that song Telephone Wire. Later I discovered that I like a lot of their stuff.

  2. dan4kent said

    ELO! OMG. Despite my outwardly deep evangelical convictions in High School, ELO was my secret pleasure. Without going into any detail, I may have well a few rows behind your aunt and uncle. If you haven’t added any ELO to your playlist, another one of my fav concertos is “Don’t Bring Me Down”. Appreciate you bringing the group back up in my viewfinder. Dan

    • Is there more to that song than just what they play on the radio? Because it’s an okay song, but nothing outstanding. ELO really loved doing concept albums and linking songs together, so I get the feeling I’ve been missing a lot because I only really listen to the singles.

  3. dan4kent said

    Ha! I get the feeling I’m missing a lot, a lot. As it relates to ELO, maybe this will be of some interest. Travel well. Dan

    “Also of interest, this song features no strings and is the first ELO song ever to not use an orchestra at all.” “The drum beat for Don’t Bring Me Down was taken from a slowed down part of the drum track for the instrumental bridge of On The Run, which Jeff Lynne looped and enhanced.” “When the NASA Skylab space station was about to reenter the Earth’s atmosphere on July 11, 1979, Don’t Bring Me Down was dedicated to it” [SOURCE: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Don't_Bring_Me_Down%5D + http://www.jefflynnesongs.com/dontbringmedown/ [SOURCE: fuller analysis].

  4. dan4kent said

    Such as I have…catch you later. Dan

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