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’