Now I’ve Seen The Way

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And they paid attention to him because for a long time he had amazed them with his magic. ~ Acts 8:11

You’re sailing softly through the sun
in a broken stone age dawn.
You fly so high.

Isn’t it funny how some people can simply mesmerize us? No matter what they do, we love it. There’s just a certain magic in the air when they’re around. And even when they do things we disagree with, we give them a pass. We just smile, shake our head and shrug it off.

I get a strange magic,
oh, what a strange magic,
oh, it’s a strange magic.
Got a strange magic,
got a strange magic.

It’s like we are hoping a little of that magic dust will rub off on us, if we can just hang around it long enough. One characteristic about these “magical” souls is their ability to make you feel like they are wholly and totally interested in you – and only you – even if it’s just for that moment.

You’re walking meadows in my mind,
making waves across my time,
oh no, oh no.

And while it’s clear that Jesus was not physically imposing or impressive – he is routinely described as being very ordinary in appearance – the people he encountered were drawn to him like a magnet. It’s my belief that He must have been one of those people who locked right in on you, like a laser beam, until you felt there was no one else in the world except the two of you. Totally focused only on you and your concerns.

I get a strange magic,
oh, what a strange magic,
oh, it’s a strange magic.
Got a strange magic,
got a strange magic.

Jeff Lynne, one of the founders and the creative force behind the Electric Light Orchestra (ELO) was certainly one of those magical personalities, as well. ELO “burst” upon the American music scene in 1971 with their debut LP, No Answer. I say burst, but maybe I should say bust, as there was very little notice or fanfare. It seemed that their “light orchestra” concept for rock-n-roll simply did not translate well outside the studio. In fact, many of their earliest show dates were cancelled because their sound was so bad. “Roll Over Beethoven”, indeed.

Oh, I’m never gonna be the same again,
now I’ve seen the way it’s got to end,
sweet dream, sweet dream.

But by the time their third album – On The Third Day – came out, they had hit the formula for their signature sound with “Showdown” reaching #53 on the Billboard charts. And with their fourth album – Eldorado – they moved up to a new level with “Can’t Get It Out Of My Head” going to #9. With the tour for Eldorado, Jeff decided to quit trying use only studio effects onstage to replicate their sound and hired an actual string based orchestra and choir for the road shows. ELO instantly became one of the most popular live bands on tour.

Strange magic,
oh, what a strange magic,
oh, it’s a strange magic.
Got a strange magic,
got a strange magic.

When people talk about “Strange Magic”, they frequently use terms like “trance-like”, “mesmerizing” and “hypnotic” to describe the sound. It sounded, at that time, truly like nothing else on the radio. Jeff Lynne has maintained that his original goal with ELO was to structure a form of “classical rock” that would “take up where The Beatles left off”.

The cover art for Face The Music depicted an electrocution on the front with the band facing against a glass panel watching it, on the back. One band member – keyboardist Richard Tandy – is the only one not shown “facing the music” because he objected to the morbidity of the concept.

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ELO_FACE_THE_MUSIC back cover

Strange magic STRANGE MAGIC
oh, what a strange magic STRANGE MAGIC
oh, it’s a strange magic.
Got a strange magic.

With the follow up platinum selling A New World Record in 1976 and the multi-platinum. double-LP, Out Of The Blue, in 1977, Jeff and ELO had firmly cemented their rightful place in rock legend. In 1978, ELO booked 92 cities for the most extensive tour schedule ever at that time – dubbed The Big Night – which became the highest grossing rock tour in history, to date.

“Strange Magic” has always been one of my faves and, coming along well before their meteoric success, marked the way for their days ahead. Face The Music is, even today, in my car’s CD box and still in my own personal top rotation. So get ready for a little rock-n-roll magic. And, if you’ve got some good headphones, I recommend putting ’em on and cranking it up.

Enjoy the original here:

Sources for this post included:

Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electric_Light_Orchestra

Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Face_the_Music_%28Electric_Light_Orchestra_album%29

 

 

 

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Nothing In The Way

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He has redeemed my soul from going to the pit, and my life shall see the light. ~ Job 33:28

I’ve wandered around with nothing more than time on my hands
I was lost in the night with no sight of you
And at times it was so blue and lonely
Heading for the light

As Joe Walsh said on the recent History Of The Eagles documentary, “As you live your life, it appears to be anarchy and chaos, and random events, non-related events, smashing into each other and causing this situation or that situation, and then, this happens, and it’s overwhelming, and it just looks like what in the world is going on. And later, when you look back at it, it looks like a finely crafted novel.”

And so it goes for most of us. We know we are always and forever searching; for what only heaven knows. And we don’t really know where we are heading. Or what we are going to be. But He does.

Been close to the edge, hanging by my fingernails
I’ve rolled and I’ve tumbled through the roses and the thorns
And I couldn’t see the sign that warned me, I’m
Heading for the light

And sometimes it surely does feel as if we are just barely hanging on. Perilously close to the abyss and the jagged, rocky bottom below. Straining so hard to keep from tumbling down, the sweat and blood can pour down into our eyes and obscure our vision. It’s so easy to lose your way in this world.

The only thing any of us can do is to “keep on keeping on”, as my old Pop used to say. Just keep on heading for the light.

Ooh – I didn’t see that big black cloud hanging over me
And when the rain came down I was nearly drowned
I didn’t know the mess I was in
My shoes are wearing out from walking down this same highway

I’m pretty sure that George Harrison didn’t really have a plan to put this stalwart group of seasoned pickers together into an actual band, but somewhere along the way the light came on. I know it did for me the first time I dropped the needle on The Traveling Wilbury’s debut album.

And just like the perfect hindsight Joe Walsh spoke of, at the end, it really did look – and sound – like a finely crafted novel.

I don’t see nothing new but I feel a lot of change
And I get the strangest feeling, as I’m
Heading for the light

Traveling-Wilburys-the-traveling-wilburys-5570335-640-425

As most everyone knows by now, The Traveling Wilbury’s (Tom Petty, George Harrison, Bob Dylan, Roy Orbison and Jeff Lynne) really came together almost purely by happenstance.

In 1987, George Harrison had pulled together a group of his “mates” (Orbison, Dylan and Lynne) to record a song to be used as the “B” side for the single “This Is Love” off his latest album, Cloud Nine. When the song they recorded, “Handle With Care”, was first submitted to Warner Brothers execs Mo Ostin and Lenny Waronker, both immediately knew it was far too good a song to be used as a throwaway “B” side. They urged George to run with it as the lead for a new album project. The rest, as they say, is – solid gold – history.

Ooh – my hands were tired
Jokers and fools on either side
But still I kept on till the worst had gone
Now I see the hole I was in
My shoes are wearing out from walking down this same highway

A few interesting tidbits about the Wilbury’s:

  • Tom Petty got involved purely by chance: George had left a guitar he needed for the recording session at Tom’s house and when he went to retrieve it, Petty decided to tag along to the session with him.
  • The name “Traveling Wilburys” came from a reference to some of Jeff and George’s recording errors while working on Cloud Nine. They said they would fix them by burying them in the final mixing. Thus “we’ll bury” them became “Wilbury”. George initially added “Trembling” to the name, but Jeff suggested “Traveling” instead and everyone liked that better.
  • They recorded two albums – Traveling Wilbury’s Vol. 1 and Traveling Wibury’s Vol. 3. George named them this way purposely as a sly acknowledgement of a well known bootleg that had been produced in between the two.

I see the sun ahead, I ain’t never looking back
All the dreams are coming true as I think of you
Now there’s nothing in the way to stop me
Heading for the light

Unfortunately, these two albums were all she wrote for the Wilbury’s. Roy Orbison died before the second album was completed in 1988 and George followed soon after in 2001. The band paid tribute to Roy in the video for the song “End Of The Line” by placing his guitar in a rocking chair and showing his photo.

Bob, Jeff and Tom are all still rocking and I have no doubts that both George and Roy definitely found their way at the end…with both of them surely heading for the light.

And the one that started it all:

Sources for this post include:

Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Traveling_Wilburys

Traveling Wilburys website: http://www.travelingwilburys.com/