ELO – Strange Magic

With ELO and Jeff Lynne, you knew you were getting a quality pop/rock song and it would be very catchy.

Strange Magic was written by ELO frontman Jeff Lynne, “Strange Magic” was on Electric Light Orchestra’s fifth studio album Face the Music.

By this time, the band had toned their orchestral sound to make it brighter and more radio-friendly. The strategy paid off, as this song and “Evil Woman” were both big hits.

The song peaked at #14 in the Billboard 100, #42 in Canada, and #38 in the UK in 1976. The album Face The Music peaked at #8 in the ===Billboard album charts and #35 in Canada.

Jeff wrote the song on various pianos in separate places while on tour in England with the band, presumably during the Eldorado tour.

From Songfacts

The song is about a captivating woman, but “Strange Magic” is also a good description for this song’s sonics. Compressed to a tight 3:27 for the single release (it runs 4:29 on the album), the song packs in an intriguing array of harmonies and hooks while integrating the famous ELO string section. The lyric is suitably trippy, and very repetitious, with the title appearing five times per chorus.

The weepy-sounding guitar lick is provided courtesy of Richard Tandy, who was somehow persuaded to take his hands off his various keyboards to pick up a guitar. Normally, Tandy’s array of Moog synth, clavinet, mellotron, and piano was so omnipresent that it led to the stereotype of prog-rock bands having a stack of keyboards onstage.

Some of you movie-music fans may cringe at this, but this song was also used in the 2007 stage production of Xanadu. Fear not, it was not part of the 1980 film soundtrack, although the soundtrack was the least of that film’s problems… or so we’re told.

The Pan-Pacific Auditorium in Los Angeles, California, doubled as the set of “Xanadu.”

Strange Magic

You’re sailing softly through the sun
In a broken stone age dawn
You fly so high

I get a strange magic
Oh, what a strange magic
Oh, it’s a strange magic
Got a strange magic
Got a strange magic

You’re walking meadows in my mind
Making waves across my time
Oh no, oh no

I get a strange magic
Oh, what a strange magic
Oh, it’s a strange magic
Got a strange magic
Got a strange magic

Oh, I’m never gonna be the same again
Now I’ve seen the way it’s got to end
Sweet dream, sweet dream

Strange magic
Oh, what a strange magic
Oh, it’s a strange magic
Got a strange magic
Got a strange magic

It’s magic, it’s magic, it’s magic
Strange magic
Oh, what a strange magic
Oh, it’s a strange magic
Got a strange magic
Strange magic
Oh, it’s a strange magic
Oh, it’s a strange magic

Got a strange magic
Strange magic
Oh, what a strange magic
Oh, it’s a strange magic

Got a strange magic
Strange magic
You know I got a strange magic
Yeah I got a strange magic
Strange magic

 

Author: badfinger20 (Max)

Power Pop fan, Baseball fan, old movie and tv show fan... and a songwriter, bass and guitar player.

29 thoughts on “ELO – Strange Magic”

  1. ELO hits the sweet spot with me. Personally, I like their disco flourishes. I like the lushness of their sound and their Beatlesque tendencies. It is those Beatlesque tendencies that differentiate them from their progressive rock brethren. They write tight pop songs. Strange Magic is an example of all of the above minus the disco flourishes. That would come with Last Train to London. How I love that song…

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thinking back…this is where Columbia House came into play. Like I said the other day The Game was the first album I went to the store and bought (non Beatles) but this is one of the many I got through Columbia house in the late seventies early eighties.

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    1. I agree with you.
      He had an album in 1990 called Armchair Theatre…song after song are just little pop perfections. The guy knows a hook when he hears one.

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      1. It said a lot that Paul, George and Ringo asked him to produce on “Free As A Bird” and “Real Love,” the two songs they took from the tape John left behind. “Free As A Bird” is nothing short of a masterpiece.

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      2. I also love the job he did on it…he had nothing to work with…a cassette tape of low quality…well cassette and low quality go together.

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  2. “Strange Magic” nicely sums up how I feel about many ELO songs – “strange” in the sense of oftentimes massive productions that can sound like Phil Spector on steroids; “magic” because of great songwriting and very catchy melodies that simply stick with you. I’ll probably have “Strange Magic” in my head for the rest of the day. But, hey, it could be significantly worse! 🙂

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      1. Feb. 1983. If it was recorded (the pageant), I’ve never seen a clip of it. I do have pix, tho…

        The movie was cool to my 13 year old self. As an adult, not so much. The acting was as good as it could be for the writing and the material it is supposedly based upon. If they were going for sci-fi, they missed. If they were going for fantasy, they missed. If they were going for musical, they managed that.

        I love Olivia but, she is not a very good actress…not on film, anyway. I love Grease but, she was stiff as a board to me (as an adult…as an eleven year old, she was just stunning). She might could be a decent stage/musical actress where stories are told with ensembles (usually) and in sections without a camera directly in one’s face.

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      2. That was around the same time we played our first show in the high school theater. We had a cassette of it but it has vanished.

        I need to catch a few snippets of that movie. I did watch Flash Gordon with the Queen soundtrack…its…uh….colorful.

        Every boy loved Olivia…liked her seventies look better than the Lets Get Physical look though. I do like some of her songs I will admit.

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      1. Think so. Too much cheese! Few too many keyboards as well. Not to take anything away from the songs though – which are normally pretty decent. With Lynne producing, everything morphs into the same sound, which would be a good thing I guess, if i liked it.

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