ELO – Last Train To London

Last Train to London was on the Discovery album released in 1979. Dave (A Sound Day) covered this album and he has some great trivia on who the model was on the cover. Click on there and see who it was…it will probably surprise you.

I had this album and there are two songs I really liked off of it other than the big hits. One of them is this one and the other was The Diary of Horace Wimp.

Jeff was happy to admit that he appreciated disco. Shine a Little Love and Last Train To London certainly pointed that way.

This album generated four top-ten UK singles, a successful new milestone in spite of the fact that this was the first which the group did not support with a tour.

Last Train To London peaked at #39 in the Billboard 100, #28 in Canada, and #8 in the UK.

Discovery peaked at #5 in the Billboard Album Chart, #1 in the UK and #3 in Canada.

Jeff Lynne: “I love disco. I love it and I always have loved it, ever since I first heard that ‘bang, bang, bang, bang!’ And I realized, ‘Wow! You just keep the bangs in and fill the holes in with something else.’ And it worked. I mean Shine A Little Love is the perfect example, right there. And Last Train To London. I really enjoyed doing disco.”

Last Train To London

It was 9-29, 9-29 back street big city
The Sun was going’ down, there was music all around
It felt so right

It was one of those nights
One of those nights when you feel the world stop turning
You were standing there, there was music in the air
I should have been away, but I knew I’d have to stay

Last train to London, just heading out
Last train to London, just leaving town
But I really want tonight to last forever
I really wanna be with you
Let the music play on down the line tonight

It was one of those nights
One of those nights when you feel the fire is burning
Everybody was there, everybody to share, it felt so right

There you were on your own
Looking like you were the only one around
I had to be with you, nothing else that I could do
I should have been away, but I knew I’d have to say

Last train to London, just heading out
Last train to London, just leaving town
But I really want tonight to last forever
I really wanna be with you
Let the music play on down the line tonight

Underneath a starry sky
Time was still but hours must really have rushed by
I didn’t realize, but love was in your eyes
I really should have gone, but love went on and on

Last train to London, just heading out
Last train to London, just leaving town
But I really want tonight to last forever
I really wanna be with you
Let the music play on down the line tonight

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

 

ELO – Evil Woman

This is the first ELO song I remember being really popular on radio. The piano intro hooks me every time.

This song was recorded at Musicland Studios in Munich, Germany in 1975. Jeff Lynne wrote the song on a piano in the studio on the last days of recording, writing it very quickly.

The band’s recording for all of the other songs for the Face The Music album had been completed when Jeff needed another song. One morning, while the rest of the band was out, he sat at the piano and played the opening piano riff, which became the basis of the song. Later that same day, the rest of the band came in and recorded the backing track. The lyrics were written and recorded the next day at Musicland.

The line “There’s a hole in my head where the rain comes in,” was inspired by the Beatles song, “Fixing a Hole.”

The song peaked at #10 in the Billboard 100, #6 in Canada, #10 in the UK, and #8 in New Zealand in 1976.

Evil Woman

You made a fool of me
But them broken dreams have got to end

Hey, woman, you got the blues
‘Cause you ain’t got no one else to use
There’s an open road that leads nowhere
So just make some miles between here and there
There’s a hole in my head where the rain comes in
You took my body and played to win
Ha, ha, woman, it’s a cryin’ shame
But you ain’t got nobody else to blame

Evil woman
Evil woman
Evil woman
Evil woman

Rolled in from another town
Hit some gold, too hard to settle down
But a fool and his money soon go separate ways
And you found a fool lyin’ in a daze
Ha, ha, woman, what you gonna do
You destroyed all the virtues that the Lord gave you
It’s so good that you’re feelin’ pain
But you better get your face on board the very next train

Evil woman
Evil woman
Evil woman
Evil woman (hey hey hey)

Evil woman
Evil woman
Evil woman
Evil woman

Evil woman, how you done me wrong
But now you’re tryin’ to wail a diff’rent song
Ha, ha, funny, how you broke me up
You made the wine, now you drink a cup
I came runnin’ ev’ry time you cried
Thought I saw love smilin’ in your eyes
Ha, ha, very nice to know
That you ain’t got no place left to go

Evil woman
Evil woman
Evil woman (evil woman)
Evil woman

Evil woman (what an evil woman)
Evil woman (such an evil woman)
Evil woman (what an evil woman)
Evil woman (such an evil woman)

Evil woman (what an evil woman)
Evil woman (such an evil woman)
Evil woman (what an evil woman)
Evil woman (such an evil woman)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ELO – Sweet Talkin’ Woman

This song was on the Out of the Blue album. It edges toward disco a little but everything was at this time.

The song was originally called “Dead End Street” before Jeff Lynne decided he wasn’t happy, so he erased the vocal track and re-wrote the lyrics. Some words that survived from that version can be heard in the opening of the third verse, “I’ve been livin’ on a dead-end street.”

This song peaked at #17 in the Billboard 100, #16 in Canada and #6 in the UK in 1978.

Jeff Lynn: “It was a song called Dead End Street. I’d done all the words and everything, finished it. And I came down the next day in the studio and I went, ‘I hate that. Let’s rub all the vocals off.’ And so, he goes, ‘Really?’ Y’know, me engineer. And I said, ‘Yup. Get rid off everything off there. Whatever to do with the vocals.’ And he did. He rubbed ’em all off. And I’d been sitting up in the hotel, which is above the studio, working at night just trying to think of a new tune and new words, which I did. And tried it the next day and there they worked. So, it was a good job I did, but it also meant changing the arrangement slightly. So a lot of pairs of scissors were used that day.”

From Songfacts

This was a hit single from British pop rock band Electric Light Orchestra’s double album, Out of the Blue, recorded at Musicland Studios in Munich, Germany during the summer of 1977. The song finds ELO leader Jeff Lynne searching for the elusive sweet talkin’ woman. He asks everyone he knows where he can find her, and even calls the operator to ask about her whereabouts, but his search is fruitless. Seems she doesn’t want to be found.

The USA single release was ten seconds shorter than its British counterpart due to a slightly faster mix. It is not known whether it was purposely edited to help the song to get more airplay or a simple error due to the tape machine being run at the wrong speed.

Like several songs on Out of the Blue, this song made use of the Vocoder 2000. ELO were one of the first music acts to make extensive use of the vocoder, which could synthesize voice into a robotic sound.

Robert John “Mutt” Lange inadvertently ripped off this track when he wrote the Huey Lewis & the News song “Do You Believe In Love?,” for their 1982 Picture This album. The verses have the same melody and the lyrics of the opening verse are remarkably similar. “I was walking down a one way street; Just a looking for someone to meet; One woman who was looking for a man.”

Sweet Talkin’ Woman

I was searchin’ (searchin’) on a one-way street
I was hopin’ (hopin’) for a chance to meet
I was waitin’ for the operator on the line
(She’s gone so long)
What can I do?
(Where could she be?)
Don’t know what I’m gonna do
I gotta get back to you

You gotta slow down (slow down), sweet talkin’ woman
You got me runnin’, you got me searchin’
Hold on (hold on), sweet talkin’ lover
It’s so sad if that’s the way it’s over

I was (walkin’), many days go by
I was thinkin’ (thinkin’) ’bout the lonely nights
Communication break down all around
(She’s gone so long)
What can I do?
(Where could she be now?)
No no no, don’t know what I’m gonna do
I gotta get back to you

You gotta slow down (slow down), sweet talkin’ woman
You got me runnin’, you got me searchin’
Hold on (hold on), sweet talkin’ lover (hold on)
It’s so sad if that’s the way it’s over

I’ve been livin’ on a dead-end street
I’ve been askin’ ev’rybody I meet
Insufficient data coming through
(She’s gone so long)
What can I do?
(Where could she be?)
No no no, don’t know what I’m gonna do
I gotta get back to you

Slow down (slow down), sweet talkin’ woman
You got me runnin’, you got me searchin’
Hold on (hold on), sweet talkin’ lover (hold on)
It’s so sad if that’s the way it’s over

Slow down (slow down), sweet talkin’ woman
You got me runnin’, you got me searchin’
Hold on (hold on), sweet talkin’ lover (hold on)
It’s so sad if that’s the way it’s over

Slow down (slow down), sweet talkin’ woman
You got me runnin’, you got me searchin’
Hold on (hold on), sweet talkin’ lover (hold on)
It’s so sad if that’s the way it’s over

Slow down (slow down), sweet talkin’ woman
You got me runnin’, you got me searchin’
Hold on (hold on), sweet talkin’ lover (hold on)
It’s so sad if that’s the way it’s over

Slow down (slow down), sweet talkin’ woman
You got me runnin’, you got me searchin’

ELO – Don’t Bring Me Down

This is one of the songs that got me into ELO. I always thought Jeff Lynne was singing “Bruuucee” in this song but he wasn’t. Jeff Lynne repeatedly sings the word “gruss” after the song’s title line? Apparently, it was a made-up place-keeper word to fill a gap in the vocals when he was improvising the lyrics.

When the German engineer Reinhold Mack heard the ELO frontman’s demo he asked Lynne how he knew “Gruss” means “greetings” in his country’s language. Upon learning the German meaning, Lynne decided to leave it in. Many fans misinterpreted “gruss” as “Bruce.” In fact, so many people misheard the lyric that Lynne actually began to sing the word as “Bruce” for fun at live shows.

The song peaked at #4 in the Billboard 100, #3 in the UK, #1 in Canada, and #6 in New Zealand in 1979. The song was on the Discovery album which peaked at #5 in the Billboard Album Chart in 1979.

 

From Songfacts

This was the first ELO song that did not use strings. After recording it, they fired their string section, leaving four members in the band.

This is the highest-charting ELO hit in both the UK and US, although ELO’s “Xanadu” collaboration with Olivia Newton-John did hit #1 UK. 

ELO leader Jeff Lynne wrote this song late in the sessions for the Discovery album. He came up with the track by looping the drums from a song he recorded earlier in the session, then coming up with more music on the piano. The words came last, as Lynne put together some lyrics about a girl who thinks she’s too good for the guy she’s with.

As a little joke, Lynne put a count-in at the beginning of the song, even though there was nobody he was counting in.

This turned out to be a good theme song for astronauts enjoying their time in space. The song was played to astronauts on the Space Shuttle Columbia as their wake up call on July 6, 1996 – they were in flight longer than expected because of bad weather on the ground. ELO’s record company also tried to tie in the song with the Skylab space station, which crashed to Earth on July 11, 1979 after six years in space. They placed ads in trade magazines promoting the new single “Don’t Bring Me Down” by dedicating it to Skylab.

This appears in the 2006 Doctor Who episode “Love & Monsters,” and in the 2012 Family Guy episode “Jesus, Mary, and Joseph!” It has also been used in these films:

I Can Only Imagine (2018)
Super 8 (2011)
College Road Trip (2008)
The In-Laws (2003)
Donnie Brasco (1997)

In 2020, this was used in a Peloton commercial where a dad tries to stay motivated using the fitness bike. It was also used in the trailer for the 2017 film The Emoji Movie.

Don’t Bring Me Down

You got me runnin’ goin’ out of my mind
You got me thinkin’ that I’m wastin’ my time
(Don’t bring me down, no no no no no)
I’ll tell you once more before I get off the floor
(Don’t bring me down)

You wanna stay out with your fancy friends
I’m tellin’ you it’s got to be the end
(Don’t bring me down, no no no no no)
I’ll tell you once more before I get off the floor
(Don’t bring me down)

Don’t bring me down, gruss
Don’t bring me down, gruss
Don’t bring me down, gruss
Don’t bring me down

What happened to the girl I used to know?
You let your mind out somewhere down the road
(Don’t bring me down, no no no no no)
I’ll tell you once more before I get off the floor
(Don’t bring me down)

You’re always talkin’ ’bout your crazy nights
One of these days you’re gonna get it right
(Don’t bring me down, no no no no no no no)
I’ll tell you once more before I get off the floor
(Don’t bring me down)

Don’t bring me down, gruss
Don’t bring me down, gruss
Don’t bring me down, gruss
Don’t bring me down

You’re lookin’ good just like a snake in the grass
One of these days you’re gonna break your glass
(Don’t bring me down, no no no no no no no)
I’ll tell you once more before I get off the floor
(Don’t bring me down)

You got me shakin’ got me runnin’ away
You got me crawlin’ up to you everyday
(Don’t bring me down, no no no no no)
I’ll tell you once more before I get off the floor
(Don’t bring me down)

I’ll tell you once more before I get off the floor
(Don’t bring me down)

Electric Light Orchestra · 10538 Overture

This was the first song ELO recorded and released.  Jeff Lynne wrote it when he was in a band called The Move. This prompted some members of The Move to go ahead with plans to create a new band with string instruments called The Electric Light Orchestra.

The song peaked at #9 in the UK in 1972.

The album was first released in the UK as Electric Light Orchestra. When it was released in the US a few months later, someone from their American Record company called to find out the name of the album but didn’t get through. That person wrote down “No Answer” on the paperwork, and that was accidentally used as the name of the US release.

 

From Songfacts

Lynne wanted the lyrics to be about a man who had a number rather than a name.

1053 was the serial number of the desk Lynne used to write this. They added the 8 and included the word “Overture” to make it clear they were an orchestra.

10538 Overture

Did you see your friend crying from his eyes today
Did you see him run through the streets and far away
Did you see him run, did you see him fall
Did his life flash by at the bedroom door

Did you hear the news it came across the air today
Someone has been found on the rocks down in the bay
Did you see him hide, did you see him crawl
Does his life mean more than it did before

Did you see that man running through the streets today
Did you catch his face, was it 10538

ELO – Mr. Blue Sky

The song was on the album Out of the Blue which was a favorite of mine. The song peaked at #35 on the Billboard 100 and #6 in the UK in 1978.

Jeff Lynne locked himself away to write this album: “It was dark and misty for two weeks, and I didn’t come up with a thing. Suddenly the sun shone and it was, ‘Wow, look at those beautiful Alps.’ I wrote Mr. Blue Sky and 13 other songs in the next two weeks.”

The song renewed its popularity with the inclusion on the Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 soundtrack.

From Songfacts

This song closes the side of the Out Of The Blue album known as “Concerto For A Rainy Day.” The lyric is suitably uplifting, following the concept of a rainy day that comes to an end.

Jeff Lynne has a “blue” streak: Other songs he wrote for ELO include “Out of the Blue” and “Midnight Blue.” Lynne is from the Birmingham area in England, where the Birmingham Football Club (or as Americans call it, “soccer team”) is called the Birmingham Blues. The “blues” in these songs are in some way a tribute to his team. 

The synthesized voice at the end of the song sings, “Please turn me over” because in the old days when we used to listen to our music on vinyl, we had to turn the record over to hear the other side. 

In 2003, this was featured in commercials for the Volkswagen convertible Bug. The spot shows a man slogging through his workday until he stops to look out a window and sees what’s out there. The song was also used in commercials for Sears.

This is played before the start of every football (soccer) match played by Birmingham City Football Club (nickname: “The Blues”). Many fans of the club associate the song with a former player (and later manager), Trevor Francis, who, through his association with the club in the ’70s, was believed to be friends with supporter Jeff Lynne. 

This was used as the theme song to the short-lived series on NBC called LAX, which starred Heather Locklear and Blair Underwood as the runway and terminal managers, respectively. 

This song was used in the Jim Carrey movie Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and was also featured in the movie Martian Child with John Cusack. 

Jeff Lynne and Richard Tandy of ELO performed this song with Ed Sheeran at the Grammy Awards in 2015. ELO, which never won a Grammy, had returned to action in 2014 with a concert at Hyde Park in London.

According to data provided by music discovery app Shazam, Lynne, Tandy and Sheeran’s performance provided the most Shazamed moment of the entire telecast.

This plays during the opening credits of the 2017 movie Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 in what director James Gunn called “the most hugely insane shot I’ve ever done.” Like the first film, the soundtrack is made up of ’70s hits that Chris Pratt’s character plays throughout on a Walkman.

Mr. Blue Sky

Sun is shinin’ in the sky
There ain’t a cloud in sight
It’s stopped rainin’ everybody’s in the play
And don’t you know
It’s a beautiful new day, hey hey

Runnin’ down the avenue
See how the sun shines brightly in the city
On the streets where once was pity
Mr. Blue Sky is living here today, hey hey

Mr. Blue Sky please tell us why
You had to hide away for so long (so long)
Where did we go wrong?

Mr. Blue Sky please tell us why
You had to hide away for so long (so long)
Where did we go wrong?

Hey you with the pretty face
Welcome to the human race
A celebration, Mr. Blue Sky’s up there waitin’
And today is the day we’ve waited for

Oh Mr. Blue Sky please tell us why
You had to hide away for so long (so long)
Where did we go wrong?

Hey there Mr. Blue
We’re so pleased to be with you
Look around see what you do
Everybody smiles at you

Hey there Mr. Blue
We’re so pleased to be with you
Look around see what you do
Everybody smiles at you

(Mr. Blue Sky, Mr. Blue Sky)
(Mr. Blue Sky)

Mr. Blue, you did it right
But soon comes Mr. Night creepin’ over
Now his hand is on your shoulder
Never mind I’ll remember you this
I’ll remember you this way

Mr. Blue Sky please tell us why
You had to hide away for so long (so long)
Where did we go wrong?

Hey there Mr. Blue (sky)
We’re so pleased to be with you (sky)
Look around see what you do (blue)
Everybody smiles at you

(Please turn me over)

The Move – Do Ya — Powerpop Friday

Jeff Lynne wrote this song and it was recorded by the Move. I know the version by ELO more but I really like this version and this band. Do Ya was the B side to California Man and it was the only song by the Move to chart in the US. The band was extremely successful in the Uk. The Move had 7 top 10 hits, 10 top 40 and a number 1 in the UK Charts.

The Move formed in 1965 and was very successful until Roy Wood (lead singer and songwriter), Jeff Lynne (who joined in 1969), and Bev Bevan formed ELO in 1972. Do Ya came out at the time that ELO was forming. ELO made a studio recording of it and it appeared on the 1976 album A New World Record. 

If you want to know about the Move…the below link is a good start.

A beginner’s guide to: The Move

 

Do Ya

In this life I’ve seen everything I can see woman
I’ve seen lovers flying through the air
Hand in hand
I’ve seen babies dancing in the midnight sun
And I’ve seen dreams that came from the heavenly skies above
I’ve seen old men crying at their own grave sides
And I’ve seen pigs all sitting watching
Picture slides
But I never seen nothin’ like you.
Do ya want my love
Do ya want my face
Do ya want my mind
Do ya want my love
Well I heard the crowd singin’ out of tune
As they sat and sang auld lang syne by the light
Of the moon
I heard the preacher bangin’ on the drums
And I heard the police playin’ with their guns
But I never heard nothing like you
In the country where the sky touches down
On the field she lay her down to rest
In the morning sun
They come a runnin’ just to get a look just to
Feel to touch her long black hair they don’t
Give a damn
Do ya want my love
Do ya want my face
Do ya want my mind
Do ya want my love
Well I think you know what I’m trying to say
Woman
That is I’d like to save you for a rainy day
I’ve seen enough of the world to know
That i’ve got to get it all to get it all to grow
Do ya want my love
Do ya want my face
Do ya want my mind
Do ya want my love

ELO – Can’t Get It Out Of My Head

The song is appropriately named because it’s hard to get it out of your head after you listen to it. The song peaked at #9 in the Billboard 100 in 1975. The song was on the Eldorado album that peaked at #16 in 1975.

Jeff Lynne recalled that he found inspiration for the song in the unfulfilled duties of an everyday guy. “It’s about a guy in a dream who sees this vision of loveliness and wakes up and finds that he’s actually a clerk working in a bank,” he said. “And he hasn’t got any chance of getting her or doing all these wonderful things that he thought he was going to do.”

From Songfacts

This is one of several fan favorites from the Eldorado, considered by many to be Jeff Lynne’s best album. The album cover shows what appears to be the scene from the movie The Wizard Of Oz, as the Wicked Witch tries to snatch Dorothy’s Ruby Red Slippers. 

This was Electric Light Orchestra’s first Top 40 hit in the US, however, it did not chart in their native UK, despite their four previous Top 40 hits there.

Jeff Lynne wrote this track. Lynne had previously led The Idle and later co-founded The Move with Roy Wood and Bev Bevan before creating ELO. The album Eldorado sold gold, becoming the sixteenth Best-Selling Album in 1974 in the US.

“Can’t Get It Out Of My Head” was featured on the 1977 soundtrack of the film Joyride.

This song was later covered live by Fountains of Wayne on their 2005 Out of States Plates album and in 2007 by Velvet Revolver on their 2007 set Libertad.

Jeff Lynne revealed during an interview with Uncle Joe Benson on the Ultimate Classic Rock Nights radio show that he wrote the song to prove a point to his dad. He explained that they were arguing about something when his father said, “That’s the trouble with your tunes… They’ve got no bloody tune!'”

So Lynne said to himself, I’ll show you a tune then, and wrote “Can’t Get It Out Of My Head,” “just to show him I could write a tune!”

Can’t Get It Out Of My Head

Midnight, on the water
I saw the ocean’s daughter
Walking on a wave’s she came
Staring as she called my name

And I can’t get it out of my head
No, I can’t get it out of my head
Now my whole world is gone for dead
‘Cause I can’t get it out of my head

Breakdown on the shoreline
Can’t move, it’s an ebbtide
Morning, don’t get here tonight
Searching for her silver light

And I can’t get it out of my head
No, I can’t get it out of my head
Now my whole world is gone for dead
‘Cause I can’t get it out of my head, no how?

Bank job in the city
Robin Hood and William Tell
And Ivanhoe and Lancelot
They don’t envy me
Sitting ’til the sun goes down
In dreams the world keeps going ’round and ’round

And I can’t get it out of my head
No, I can’t get it out of my head
Now my whole world is gone for dead
‘Cause I can’t get it out of my head

And I can’t get it out of my head
No, I can’t get it out of my head
Now my whole world is gone for dead
‘Cause I can’t get it out of my head, no how, no now

ELO – Telephone Line

I could pick about any ELO song and do fine. Jeff Lynne is one of the best pop/rock songwriters. In my opinion, he can write super catchy songs without being sugary. Telephone Line peaked at #8 in the Billboard 100, #7 in the UK and #1 in Canada in 1977.

Lynne once said that ELO will “Pick up where ‘I Am the Walrus’ left off.”

http://www.jefflynnesongs.com/telephoneline/

Telephone Line was originally recorded at Musicland Studios in Munich, Germany during July of 1976. This recording was for the backing track only. The orchestra was recorded later at De Lane Lea Studios, Wembley, England. Just before release, other minor edits (including the muted telephone intro) were done at Cherokee Studios in Los Angeles, California, USA. The early working title was Bad Salad Telephone (a play on the term “sad ballad”), so it appears that the telephone theme was an early concept for the song.

Telephone Effects: The telephone intro for the song has drawn a lot of attention over the years. There are two notable things about it. First, the ringback tone heard (as one would hear when waiting for the line to pick up) is a North American ringback tone which is quite distinctive from that heard in the U.K. at the time. The band was having much greater success in America at the time and this inspired them to use the North American sound rather than the British sound. To get the sound just right, the band called to an office in America in when they knew no one would answer. It was likely to have been the Jet Records office in California because the time zones from England or Germany to America would have likely meant the offices were closed when the call was made. The band did not simply record the tone and insert that into the record as has been stated in some interviews, but rather they studied the sounds and then recreated them on synthesizer. If one listens closely, they are clearly not a match.

The other interesting bit about the intro is the muted, mono telephone sound, as if the listener is listening through the telephone to the song’s intro. This was a very late addition to the song. The recording was completed and Jeff was bringing the tapes from England to California when he got the idea to add the effect to the song. So it was in Cherokee Studios in Los Angeles that engineers Duane Scott and Kevin Gray were instructed to manually add the effect to the completed stereo master. The song plays normally until the very first vocal line of the first verse when the mono, listening-on-the-telephone effect cuts in. This continues, along with the ringback tone, until the “lonely, lonely, lonely, lonely, lonely nights” line when the full stereo version of the song is slowly phased in and the ringback stops. In addition, the ringback tone is again heard mid-song, in the short bridge following the first chorus and before the third verse. In the alternate vocal version heard on the 2007 A New World Record remaster, which has a non-fading end, the ringback tone is heard yet again as the last notes of the song are waning.

Telephone Line

Hello. How are you?
Have you been alright through all those lonely lonely lonely lonely lonely nights?
That’s what I’d say.
I’d tell you everything, if you’d pick up that telephone.

Hey. How you feeling?
Are you still the same?
Don’t you realize the things we did we did were all for real? Not a dream.
I just can’t believe they’ve all faded out of view.

Blue days, black nights

I look into the sky
The love you need ain’t gonna see you through.
And I wonder why
The little things you planned ain’t coming true.

Telephone line, give me some time, I’m living in twilight
Telephone line, give me some time, I’m living in twilight

O.K. So, no one’s answering,
Well can’t you just let it ring a little longer longer longer
I’ll just sit tight, through the shadows of the night
Let it ring for evermore.

Blue days, black nights

I look into the sky
The love you need ain’t gonna see you through.
And I wonder why
The little things you planned ain’t coming true.

Telephone line, give me some time, I’m living in twilight
Telephone line, give me some time, I’m living in twilight

Telephone line, give me some time, I’m living in twilight
Telephone line, give me some time, I’m living in twilight