A Deeper Look at the Meaning Behind “Mr. Blue Sky,” Electric Light Orchestra

Videos by American Songwriter

Videos by American Songwriter

Today’s forecast for music enthusiasts is showing sliding cellos with vocoded vocals and a 100 percent chance of blue sky—“Mr. Blue Sky” that is.

“Mr. Blue Sky” is a song from the discography of the English rock band Electric Light Orchestra (ELO). The song first appeared on the band’s seventh studio album, Out of the Blue, which was released in 1977. Today, the track is widely considered to be ELO’s signature song, but the song itself only ever reached the number six spot on the U.K. Singles chart and 35 on the Billboard Hot 100.

So what is it about this song that has allowed it to persist in popular culture with immense amounts of fondness from its listeners? 

The origins.

One of the first reasons for “Mr. Blue Sky’s” success lies in its humble but inspired beginnings. Jeff Lyne, ELO’s frontman and primary lyricist, penned the track while tucked away in the Swiss Alps to write songs for Out of the Blue. “Mr. Blue Sky” ended up being one of the first songs he wrote for the album.

“I remember writing the words down,” Lynne told Rolling Stone in 2016. “I was at a chalet in the mountains of Switzerland and it was all misty and cloudy all the way around. I didn’t see any countryside for the first four days or so, and then everything cleared and there was this enormous view forever and the sky was blue.”

The lyrics for “Mr. Blue Sky” spilled out shortly after the sun had broken through the clouds. 

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

Composition and little-known nuances. 

“Mr. Blue Sky” was recorded at Musicland Studios in Germany, and has persisted in pop culture due to its upbeat and infectious rhythm. “I suppose this is my most well-known song,” Lynne stated in 2016. “Everybody tells me something different about it. It’s even got crazy appeal to kids since it’s like a nursery rhyme.”

While it is not rocket science to decode the overall meaning of the song, there are a few nuances within the song. 

The first nuance is the song’s final, and heavily vocoded, lyric: Please turn me over. This exit lyric is referencing the practice of turning a vinyl record over to hear the B-side; to continue to listen to the record. ELO is quite literally telling its listeners to listen to more of their music. How about that for a marketing strategy. 

Another often misunderstood part of the song is the clanging percussive sound that rings in the chorus of the song. Bev Bevan (drums) is credited with this sound, and he actually produced it by striking a fire extinguisher. When the band performed the song live, Bevan would smack the side of a fire extinguisher with his drumstick.

The “blue streak.”

Many critics (as well as many dedicated ELO fans) have noticed that “Mr. Blue Sky” could be a part of Lynne’s “blue streak.” Lynne wrote several songs with the word “blue” in the title, including “Midnight Blue,” “Birmingham Blues,” “Bluebird Is Dead,” “Boy Blue,” and “Bluebird.” This “blue” persistence has been attributed to Lynne’s fondness for his hometown—Birmingham, England—where the Birmingham “Blues” play. The Birmingham Blues is an English football club that competes in the EFL Championship.

“Mr. Blue Sky” movie appearances and covers. 

The ELO song has increased its fame throughout the years in part because of its various cinematic appearances. “Mr. Blue Sky” has been used in the films Megamind, Role Models, The Magic Roundabout, Wild Mussels, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Paul Blart: Mall Cop, The Game Plan, Doogal, Martian Child, The Invention of Lying, and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.

The song has also been used in several TV shows and was featured at the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2012 Summer Olympics.

Bands Weezer and Pomplamoose both covered the song in 2019.

Photo by Fin Costello/Redferns

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