|"Don't Bring Me Down"|
|Single by Electric Light Orchestra|
|from the album Discovery|
|B-side||"Dreaming of 4000"|
|Released||24 August 1979 (UK)|
|Electric Light Orchestra singles chronology|
|Discovery track listing|
It's a great big galloping ball of distortion. I wrote it at the last minute, 'cause I felt there weren't enough loud ones on the album. This was just what I was after.— Discovery remaster (2001), Jeff Lynne
"Don't Bring Me Down" is the band's second-highest-charting hit in the UK, where it peaked at number 3, and their biggest hit in the United States, peaking at number 4 on the Billboard Hot 100. It also charted well in Canada (number 1) and Australia (number 6). This was the first single by ELO not to include a string section. Engineer Reinhold Mack claims that this was his idea, after Lynne did not know what they should record next, and that he encouraged Lynne to "just boogie out for a night."
The drum track is in fact a tape loop, coming from "On the Run" looped and slowed down and then sped up; Mack recalls that that Bevan was not interested in joining in the jam session that helped create the song; Mack decided to use a drum loop, and Lynne asked Mack to change the speed of the loop tape.
On 4 November 2007, Lynne was awarded a BMI (Broadcast Music, Inc) Million-Air certificate for "Don't Bring Me Down" for the song having reached two million airplays.
A common mondegreen in the song is the perception that, following the title line, Lynne shouts "Bruce!" In the liner notes of the ELO compilation Flashback and elsewhere, Lynne has explained that he is singing a made-up word, "Groos", which some have suggested sounds like the German expression "Gruß", meaning "greeting." Lynne has explained that originally he did not realize the meaning of the syllable, and he just used it as a temporary placekeeper to fill a gap in the lyrics, but upon learning the German meaning he decided to leave it in. After the song's release, so many people had misinterpreted the word as "Bruce" that Lynne actually began to sing the word as "Bruce" for fun at live shows.
ELO engineer Reinhold Mack remembers the genesis of the term differently, stating that Lynne was actually singing "Bruce" as a joke in advance of an Australian tour "referring to how many Australian guys are called Bruce." Mack stated that this was a temporary line, as "[they] couldn't leave it like that, so eventually we replaced it with 'Gruss,' based on the Bavarian greeting 'Gruß Gott," - 'greet God.' Gruss, not Bruce is what you hear in the song immediately following the title line."
AllMusic's Donald Guarisco retrospectively praised ELO for not including a string section in the song: "Electric Light Orchestra can easily be summed up as 'pop music with strings.' Thus, it is pretty ironic that the group's biggest American hit, "Don't Bring Me Down", features no string section at all", adding that "it proved that Electric Light Orchestra could be just as interesting without the string section and thus paved the way for later string-less [sic] hits like "Hold On Tight" and "Calling America", concluding that it was a song that was "powerful enough for rock fans but dance-friendly enough for the disco set". Billboard found the song to be Beatlesque while praising the multiple "irresistible" instrumental and vocal hooks. Cash Box similarly described it as being influenced by the Beatles, particularly the song "You Can't Do That," and said that the song "brims with overdubbed Lynne harmonies and a pounding rhythm track." Record World said that "From the opening drum blasts, through the harmony vocal/percussion break, to the echo-filled closing, this song rocks." Ultimate Classic Rock rated "Don't Bring Me Down" as the 97th greatest classic rock song, saying it "may just be Jeff Lynne's most concise and representative musical statement."
A music video was produced, which showed the band performing the song interspersed with various animations relating to the song's subject matter, including big-bottomed majorettes and a pulsating neon frankfurter. The band's three resident string players are depicted playing keyboards in the music video.
Jeff Lynne version
Jeff Lynne re-recorded the song in his own home studio. It was released on a compilation album with other re-recorded ELO songs called Mr. Blue Sky: The Very Best of Electric Light Orchestra.
- Jeff Lynne – lead vocals, harmony and backing vocals, electric lead guitar, 12-string acoustic guitar, additional guitars, 12-string acoustic guitar, piano, synthesizer
- Bev Bevan – drums, percussion
- Richard Tandy – grand piano, synthesizer, electric piano, clavinet
- Kelly Groucutt – harmony and backing vocals, bass
Cover versions and remixes
- In 2012, The Hives released a song called "Go Right Ahead". Though not a direct cover, the main riff in the song is nearly identical to the one in "Don't Bring Me Down", and as a result Jeff Lynne was credited as a co-writer.
- Country stars Little Big Town, Kacey Musgraves and Midland performed the song on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon to promote their The Breakers Tour.
- American rock band Black Stone Cherry covered the song on their 2020 album The Human Condition.
Chart and sales
Sales and certifications
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- Moss, Marissa R. (21 September 2017). "See Little Big Town, Kacey Musgraves and Midland Cover ELO on 'Fallon'". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 17 May 2018.
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- Webster, Allan (29 December 1979). "International Dateline > Australia" (PDF). Cash Box. Vol. XLI, no. 33. p. 96. Retrieved 1 December 2021 – via World Radio History.
- "American single certifications – Electric Light Orchestra – Don't Bring Me Down". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved 28 April 2021.