So that’s it. No more barbeques or white pants. No more guilt-free hot dogs and very few guilt-free hamburgers. You can forget about pesto (it’s a foodie faux pas). You can definitely forget about watermelon (it just wouldn’t be right). No more rounds of mini-golf, or movies in the park, or sunset trips to the beach. No more lightning bugs or fireflies (depending on your lexicon). Your sweat glands and melanocytes are about to go on an extended hiatus. You’re entering that part of the year where you either have the flu or you look like you have the flu. And when you’re not sick, you’ll be constantly paranoid about getting sick. The days of reckless handshakes and promiscuous high-fives are over. From this week forward, your body must be viewed as a breeding ground for swine and avian viruses—please act accordingly.
Lucky for you, Jeff Lynne has concocted a wicked antidote to curb the effects of the autumn equinox. Aptly named “It’s Over,” this musical masterpiece has been curing seasonal depression since 1977. Taken twice a day, morning and night (preferably with headphones) you’ll most certainly forget that everything around you is dead or dying. “It’s Over” is easily one of the best songs off the Electric Light Orchestra’s album, Out of the Blue, a tour de force of musical genius which seemed to rapidly evolve from that mysterious well-spring of creativity, inspired (in part) by rainy-day depression. Lynne reportedly wrote the entire 17-track hit-record in less than a month, while vacationing in Munich during a very wet summer.
“It’s Over” pays homage to bittersweet endings and new beginnings, which often present themselves without warning, much like the opening verse: “Summer came and passed away/Hardly seemed to last a day/But it’s over, and what can I do?” The eminent melody of “It’s Over” is preceded by an unassuming string crescendo and a few simple bass notes. The driving instrumentals on the verse are deeply satisfying (even nostalgic at times) and completely representative of the album as a whole. The vocal harmonies reek of 1970s groove and are the true heroes of this song. Lynne is a master of embodying real-life emotion through his vocals—“It’s Over” is no exception. The last chorus begins with a drawn-out sigh that so perfectly captures our collective sense of post-summer longing.
Out of the Blue has highs and lows, yet even the worst songs (i.e. “Standin’ in the Rain” “Birmingham Blues”) are better than most-anything on FM radio today. The highs, on the other hand, are stratospheric. “Turn to Stone,” “Sweet Talkin’ Woman,” “Across the Border,” should come with a warning and pre-loaded on every automobile: “Please keep both hands on the wheel at all times, as ELO has been known to cause spontaneous air guitar playing.”
There are also several numbers that draw inspiration from The Beatles’ catalogue, with a unique 70s twist (“Night in the City,” “Jungle,” “Mr. Blue Sky”). The BeeGees haven’t been forgotten either. “Steppin’ Out” and “Starlight” are obvious tributes to the brothers Gibb. Then there are songs which stand on their own and symbolize a paradigm shift in musical technique. “Believe Me Now” is one such song which can only be classified as symphony-techno, a mix of strings and synthesizer that would find a comfortable home on any Daft Punk album. This smorgasbord of sound is what makes Out of the Blue one of the greatest albums ever made, and one worth celebrating. This year, Out of the Blue is officially “over the hill.” In honor of the 40-year milestone, Sony Music Entertainment is releasing a never-before-seen picture-disc edition of ELO’s magnum opus (available September 29).
So, if there is anyone out there who still doubts that the 1970s was a musical goldmine, ELO is your answer and Out of the Blue is Exhibit A. It’s the answer sung by generations cruising the highway with the windows down and the volume cranked. If the smell of burning leaves and the thought of snow makes you shudder, fear not, Jeff Lynne and the Electric Light Orchestra have just what you need—an album for all people and places, all seasons and times.