What The Hell Are They Saying?



jefflynneHere’s a new feature idea: Why don’t we take some often mis-remembered lyrics and try to clear the air once and for all as to what the singer is actually singing? Don’t like it? The door is metaphorically that way. For the rest of you, I proudly present:

“What The Hell Are They Saying?”

Today we’re going to talk about ELO’s classic song “Don’t Bring Me Down.” For the most part, there isn’t a lot of dispute here. The song seems to be about some sort of succubus-type woman who taps at the narrator’s life force like it’s a keg of Pabst Blue Ribbon. But then they get to the chorus:

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Don’t Bring Me Down…

Bruce?

It turns out, that until Jeff Lynne (who, despite a wealth of talent, will unfortunately be known as the Traveling Wilbury that everyone always forgets) finally cleared the air  in 2000, there were several competing theories on the Internet as to what they were saying. Here they are, in order of popularity.

5. They are saying “Bruce,” because Springsteen was recording in the next studio, and they wanted the Boss to hear them even though studios are thoroughly sound-proofed for pretty much this exact reason.

4. They are saying “Bouge.” Each member of ELO had recently red Marx’s Communist Manifesto and Engels’ The Condition of the Working Class. To show their proletariat solidarity despite fame and fortune, the group decided to call out the bourgeois for their shallow value system in this subtle way.

3. They are saying “Booze.” One would think this would be self-explanatory, but “Booze” was actually the name of keyboardist Richard Tandy’s mother. Semi-ironically, she died in a fire at a Tea-Totallers Meeting.

2. They are saying “Goose.” Each year, on the Monday after Easter, ELO pardons one British goose. This has no real effect, but the goose is briefly happy and this song becomes fairly inescapable after March 15th or so. Then, everyone suddenly turns on ELO and tries to kill them. This is why there have been only two consistent members over the years.

1. They are saying “Loose,” which is the band’s abbreviation for Every Which Way But Loose, the Clint Eastwood monkey movie. The group (all members past and present) has seen this movie so many times that nothing about it makes even a lick of sense anymore.

Even though all these ideas are terrific and I totally didn’t make them up, Jeff Lynne himself cleared it up in 2000.

Apparently he’s saying a made-up word, that he spells “Grroosss.”

I guess that kind of undermines the secret, doesn’t it? Couldn’t all misheard lyrics simply be fictional words?

Let’s trust that they’re not, and that each inscrutable piece of “Jiggery-Pokery” in the rock music canon has a worthwhile story behind it.

Or let us throw ourselves into the nearest volcano.

Either way, it’s our choice.

Photo credit: By Source (WP:NFCC#4), Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=46511613

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