Everybody Smiles at You

The English rock band Electric Light Orchestra song ‘Mr. Blue Sky’ was written by Jeff Lynne and recorded on their 1977 seventh studio album Out of the Blue, and due to its sunny and uplifting vibe and lively groundbreaking sound that celebrates sunshine, it became a very popular song.  This celebration of a sunny day brings the listener a feeling of freedom that comes from having fun and being playful and accepting whatever the winds will bring our way.  Out of the Blue was the group’s most commercially successful studio album and it is a double album where the third side of this album is a quartet of loosely themed songs known collectively as Concerto for a Rainy Day.  These four songs ‘Standin’ in the Rain’, ‘Big Wheels’, ‘Summer and Lightning’ and ‘Mr. Blue Sky’ are joined together in a lose concept starting with the dark of a midnight rainfall and ending with the sunlight of a special afternoon, where the weather mirrors a person’s mood toward renewed optimism as the day gets brighter.

In the Spring of 1977, Jeff Lynne holed up in his Swiss chalet, where it was dark and misty for 2 weeks and he couldn’t come up with anything, but then he woke up to a bright sun cresting over the mountains backed by a blue sky and he captured this in the song that he wrote ‘Mr. Blue Sky’.  Jeff was staying here while attempting to write ELO’s follow-up album to A New World Record.  Once Jeff Lynne found his inspiration, his writer’s block disappeared and he couldn’t stop writing, as in just two weeks’ time, he wrote most of the songs for this album.  The extended period of dreary downpour and thunder, blocked Lynne’s creative spirit, and during that period he didn’t come up with any music, but when the rain came to an end, Lynne wrote this iconic song.  Suddenly when the sun broke, he was amazed looking at the beautiful Alps and ‘Mr. Blue Sky’ came out of this along with 13 other songs in just two weeks.

The song’s arrangement has been dubbed “Beatlesque”, and its harmonies were compared with the Beach Boys and the Bee Gees.  The song has a prominent use of a cowbell-like sound, which is credited on the album to percussionist Bev Bevan, using a drumstick to strike the side of a fire extinguisher.  It contains the most freaked out vocoder since the 1947 children’s audio story Sparky’s Magic Piano, where a young boy who doesn’t like to practice the piano, changes his mind when his piano comes to life and takes him on an adventure, however the robotic voice of the piano was considered disturbing to many children.  Vocoders (a category of voice codec that analyzes and synthesizes the human voice signal for audio data compression, multiplexing, voice encryption or voice transformation) first became popular in music in the ’70s and this was one of the first pop albums to make an extensive use of this electronic musical instrument.

A second vocoded segment at the end of the song is often incorrectly interpreted as saying “Mister Blue Sky”, but it is actually saying “Please turn me over”, as it is the end of side three of the vinyl record, and the listener is being instructed to flip it over.  ‘Mr. Blue Sky’ reached #6 in the UK chart in 1978, but it only got to #35 in the US.  Due to its popularity and frequent use in multiple television shows and movies, it is known as ELO’s signature song, and has been one of the most downloaded and streamed songs of the 1970s.

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, 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

Written for Thursday Inspiration #117 I Feel the Earth Move.

12 thoughts on “Everybody Smiles at You

  1. Great write up Jim…I don’t ever feel that I cover ELO well…on some of their songs it’s hard to find info. I always liked this song. Heck I like most of their songs…even their disco tinged songs.

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    1. Thanks Max, I appreciate you saying that. I didn’t have any problem finding information on this song, in fact I found too much where people really analyzed every aspect of this comparing the instrument section of this song to the Beatles A Day In A Life and so many other details that I left out which you would have found interesting, but probably would have board the rest of my readers. I really don’t know much about ELO, but I did watch the Showtime special Jeff Lynne’s ELO Wembley Or Bust film.

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      1. I’m doing one on their song Horace Wimp right now…I guess because the last few I did are more rare.
        I would have seen him in 2019 but those kidney stones made my tickets useless.

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