Wednesday, 9 July 2008

The Diary of Horace Wimp – E.L.O

I started getting into ELO when I was in my late teens – not quite sure how I stumbled upon them – definitely not through the formal routes of being made a cassette tape by an earnest boyfriend, or sneaking into my older brother’s room to rummage through his record collection. Perhaps it was the radio…

This song was my introduction to ELO, and it was so weird and fabulous that it caught my imagination straight away. The lyrics seemed to spin off the children’s nursery rhyme ‘Monday’s Child’, and tell the story of an unfortunately-named man called Horace Wimp, whose fate is revealed over the course of seven days. See – already it is genius.

The song makes good use of the vocoder, which is the thing responsible for the electronic bedeebe wowowow sort of sound, and this sound really reminds me of that period of late 70’s/early 80’s when music videos would chuck every FX they possibly could at the viewer, just because they now had things to play with. (The worst culprits for this was Blondie, bless them). In fact, that really seems to sum up the 70’s to me, and perhaps prog rock in general, as it was the decade to indulge in musical experiments, and audiences let the bands do just that, and loved them for it.

My favourite part of the lyrics is the switch between the beginning chorus:

Horace wimp, this is your life,
Go out and find yourself a wife.

And the end chorus:

Horace Wimp, this is your wife,
Go out and find yourself a life.

I just think that is brilliant, so simple, yet encapsulates the whole song. I love playing with words… in fact, if this novel goes the distance you will realise that just from the title! But I digress… Telephone Line and Livin’ Thing were my next loves from the ELO back catalogue, and that was that, until many years later I bumped into the greatness of what is Mr Blue Sky – a song that permanently stays in the top ten on my iPod. But still I have a fondness for Horace…

5 comments:

Ben said...

Urge to listen to Mr Blue Sky now.

Urge indulged.

Jayne said...

Just after writing this post, I also felt the need to listen to Mr Blue Sky, funnily enough. Had it on repeat... *looks sheepish*

musicobsessive said...

OK, lets' honest - not one of my favourites. The trouble is that for me the mid 1980s were a bit of a wasteland between prog and punk and those that bestrode it (Supertramp, 10cc, Elo etc) were really only the best of a bad bunch.

Still having said that, it's your music month not mine so bring 'em on (goes off to play blue vinyl copy of 'Mr Blue Sky'...Oh Damn!!)

Jayne said...

And lo, it came to pass that everyone who read this post felt a strange compulsion to hear 'Mr Blue Sky' immediately after...

musicobsessive said...

Spooky! And not only that - it has completely done my head in so that in my previous comment I missed out 'be' in the first sentence and then waffled on about the mid 1980s when I clearly meant the mid 1970s!!

Such is the power of ELO. I'm going to lie down with a packet of chocolate digestives!