Despite the single’s title, it would in fact come down. But not 41 years ago. “Don’t Bring Me Down” by E.L.O. had a pretty good run, peaking this day in 1979 at #4 in the U.S. It got to #3 in the band’s native UK, making it the highest-charting song for them in both countries to that point. In Canada it became their second #1 hit (“Telephone Line” being the first) and soon it would become their second single to earn a gold record in the U.S.
The band known for its spacey album covers and Beatle-sque melodies played with a lot of strings and synths was on a good roll by then, and more and more in the control of Jeff Lynne, who played a variety of instruments, wrote more and more of their material, sang lead, and in the case of this album, produced it too. The song was the third single off Discovery, an album they recorded in Germany. Album trivia for you TV fans… the cover has a picture of a fortune teller on it. That model happens to be Brad Garrett, who later starred alongside Ray Romano on Everybody Loves Raymond. “Don’t Bring Me Down” appeared as the last track on the LP (and later CD), which apparently is fitting because it was a last minute add-on. According to Lynne, “it’s a great big galloping ball of distortion. I wrote it at the last minute, because I felt there weren’t enough loud songs on the album.” Apparently by the time they got around to it, they’d sent their usual string section home so it became their first hit not using violins etc. And being in Germany, apparently some of the studio staff said something like “grud” often, a German greeting. Jeff thought it sounded like “groose” so he said that several times in the song after the chorus. It is of course, one of the most misheard lyrics in rock. So many people think he says “Bruce” during it that he sometimes sings that instead in concert performances.
Fittingly for the title and the band’s frequent use of spaceship imagery, it has ties in to NASA. The band “dedicated” it to Skylab, an abandoned spacecraft which burned up in its return to earth’s orbit that summer. In years that followed, it had been played to astronauts on the Space Shuttle.
E.L.O. were flying high back then, launching seven songs into the American top 40 in a little over a year between early-’79 and mid-’80. Discovery ended up being their biggest U.S. success, going 3X platinum.