OK, those family and friend folk who are close to me already know this about me, but for the uninitiated, I love this fucking song with every fiber of my being. There I said it. I can’t help it. I may have hinted about this in my debut blog post back in January about 1979 (the year I got into music), but there’s just something about this song that drives me crazy and makes me move. I love this song so much, it would be in my “Desert Island 20” (or, 20 songs I wouldn’t mind being stuck with on an island somewhere). In fact, it nearly made my “Desert Island 8.”
Jeff Lynne and his Electric Light Orchestra (ELO) are responsible for this madness. In May 1979, the Birmingham, England Rock band released their 8th studio album, DISCOVERY, and the first single from the album, “Shine A Little Love,” spent 2 weeks at No. 8 on the BILLBOARD Hot 100 in late July 1979, and was a Top 10 hit in at least 5 other countries. While “Shine A Little Love” was still in the Top 20 of the Hot 100, follow-up single “Don’t Bring Me Down” blasted from its No. 41 debut all the way to No. 18 in mid-August 1979.
“Don’t Bring Me Down” reached the Top 10 on the Hot 100 in its 4th week, headed for what looked like the band’s first No. 1 song in America. But the Los Angeles Rock band The Knack had other plans. “My Sharona” started its 6-week run at No. 1 the same week ELO flew into the Top 10 with “Don’t Bring Me Down.” After spending two quick weeks at its peak position of No. 4 in September 1979, “Don’t Bring Me Down” started to move down the chart.
Though “Don’t Bring Me Down” remains the band’s highest-charting single here in the U.S., it’s not their biggest hit, but it’s part of the band’s weird chart history here in America. ELO charted on the Hot 100 26 times between 1973 and 1986, including 7 Top 10 hits. Along with acts like Creedence Clearwater Revival (five No. 2 singles) and Journey (one No. 2 single – “Open Arms”), ELO ranks among the top of the list of recording artists who never hit No. 1 on the BILLBOARD Hot 100 singles chart…at least so far.
“Don’t Bring Me Down” was also a Top 10 powerhouse around the world, reaching the upper echelon in at least 12 countries, and helped ELO spawn four Top 40 singles on the BILLBOARD Hot 100 from DISCOVERY (including “Confusion” and “Last Train To London”), which may have been just the second time (following Fleetwood Mac’s RUMOURS) that a studio album charted four Top 40 singles from the same album.
The song has been featured in a vast number of cover songs over the years, in commercials, video games, numerous movie trailers and in several movies, notably the 2011 Steven Spielberg / J.J. Abrams film, SUPER 8, of which one of my best friends said, “I’ve seen that movie before – it was called E.T.” Well, similarities aside, SUPER 8 is a special movie for me because one of my nieces wanted to see it for her 10th birthday, and the film was set in 1979, the year I started getting into music. The kids in the film were portraying 12-year-olds, the same age I was in 1979. So, apart from aliens and making zombie movies at that age, I kinda related to it, you know?
ELO (now called Jeff Lynne’s ELO) played at the Grammy Awards in 2015 (much to the delight of Paul McCartney), and in November of that year, the band released their first album since 2001, titled ALONE IN THE UNIVERSE. The album was certified Platinum in the U.K., and reached No. 4 on the U.K. Albums chart, a position they hadn’t visited in over 30 years. They are scheduled to be playing at the Pyramid Stage of the Glastonbury Festival in England near the end of this month (June 26).
I have been a fan of ELO for many years, but it was the pounding beat of “Don’t Bring Me Down” that cemented my love for the band. What can I say? That song will NEVER bring me down. No, no, no, no, no, woo-hoo!