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Don't Bring Me Down
"Don't Bring Me Down"
Artwork for UK, Australian, and some other European vinyl releases
"Don't Bring Me Down" is the ninth and final track on the English rock band the Electric Light Orchestra's 1979 album Discovery. It is their highest-charting hit in the United States to date.
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 song by ELO not to include a string section.
The drum track is in fact a tape loop, coming from "On the Run" looped and slowed down.
The song ends with the sound of a door slamming. According to producer Jeff Lynne, this was a metal fire door at Musicland Studios where the song was recorded.
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, "Grooss", which some have suggested sounds like the German expression "Gruß," meaning "greetings." 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."
AllMusic's Donald A. Guarisco praised ELO for not including any 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.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 for the song was produced, which showed video of 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.
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 officially credited as a co-writer.