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What happened at the end of ELO's concept album Eldorado?

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by Folknik, Jul 7, 2015.

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  1. Folknik

    Folknik Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Eldorado is built around the thematic thread of a Walter Mittyish guy who is bored with his workaday life but finds escape and adventure in his dreams. At the end of the album, he is saying that he is going to find out "if eternal life is meant to be", and says "I won't be back". The line about looking "through the rooftop haze" led me to the interpretation that he committed suicide by jumping off the roof so he could live forever in his fantasy dream world, although this isn't specifically stated. It would certainly give the concept a disturbing angle. Any thoughts or alternate interpretations?
     
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  2. c-eling

    c-eling Fruit Juice Everywhere

    Pretty much how I interpreted it Derrick... I remember decades ago some controversy about 'Can't get it out of my head' being about suicide (from certain religious groups) so it would make sense, or the whole thing is a dream sequence and he wakes up at the end, as it seems some songs relate to old history
     
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  3. I once read somewhere that Time was an attempt at refining the same basic dream concept as Eldorado (probably because the story is a little vague in places), only with the addition of time travel and the protagonist going back to his own reality having learned something from the experience, which suggests he wakes up in the end... I'm not so sure about the whole suicide theory, though!
     
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  4. Folknik

    Folknik Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Just curious. How did you know my name?
     
  5. c-eling

    c-eling Fruit Juice Everywhere

    As a courtesy I try to remember peoples names that have been on the forum for awhile, also it's on your profile page :cheers:
     
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  6. bRETT

    bRETT Forum Resident

    Location:
    Boston MA
    Vaguely recall a Jeff Lynne interview a long time ago, where he said that the character checks out of the real world altogether and goes on to live in his fantasies. Nothing about him dying though, and I doubt that was intended.
     
  7. VoW

    VoW Member

    Location:
    USA
    I fully agree with your interpretation. This seems to be a recurring theme in their songs. And it just so happens that the original violinist of ELO committed suicide in the very manner in which you describe. I don't think it's any coincidence either that Roy Wood, another founding member of the ELO, released a song called "Music to Commit Suicide By" in 1973, after his own departure from the band. Furthermore, the line right before the one you mention goes "Say goodbye, the cities heroes sing, bird on the wing" makes me believe Eldorado is about a former member of the band.

    This does give a disturbing angle, but it's one based on reality. Who knows what really went down with the band in those early years, but it makes complete sense that an event such as this could have shaped the music going forward. "Livin' Thing", another great ELO song, I believe touches the same subject in great detail. There is also an odd sequence in the "Hold on Tight" music video at the 42 second mark that could be interpreted as someone falling to their death.

    Lots of coincidences here, and I could go on with many more...
     
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  8. Folknik

    Folknik Forum Resident Thread Starter

    I didn't know that about the violinist. That is eerie indeed.
     
  9. Well, the album does end with the narrator describing the main character as still being high on the same hill in Eldorado where the story began, so maybe he just checked out of reality and his job in a bank, deciding instead to stay in his dream world forever? The chorus to Eldorado suggests this was the case, and the dreamlike noises that bookend the whole experience suggest that at least the listener is able to enter then leave again...
     
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  10. Holy Diver

    Holy Diver Forum Resident

    Location:
    USA
    Sounds like a good plan. :)
     
  11. Thievius

    Thievius This is my sweet custom title, yo

    Location:
    Syracuse, NY
    I personally don't go for the suicide angle, I choose to believe he lost his grasp on reality to live his life in a fantasy world of his own making.

    On a side note, I also wasn't aware they lost their first violinist to suicide, but a little bit of research confirms it. His name was Steve Woolam and he only played on ELO's debut album. Which is a shame, I've always loved the violin on that first album! Especially that little solo at the end of Mr. Radio.
     
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  12. VoW

    VoW Member

    Location:
    USA
    You and another above make a great point. It's about what you, the listener, chooses to believe. Regardless of what inspired the lyrics, Jeff Lynne has taken some sort of experience or observation through his life and created sublime music that can be interpreted however the listener sees fit. I personally believe he has taken a sad and tragic moment and used that to not only pay tribute, but create a universal message of hope. Either way, what an amazing and brilliant artist.
     
    Last edited: Jun 14, 2016
  13. 32XD Japan1

    32XD Japan1 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Pennsylvania USA
    Great record. I don't own a turntable, but I always wanted to hear what those backwards vocals said.
     
  14. To my knowledge, there aren't any confirmed backwards messages on the Eldorado album, though a fundamentalist group claimed the first verse of the title track could be reversed to read: "He is the nasty one/Christ, you're infernal/It is said we're dead men/Everyone who has the mark will live." Jeff Lynne's response to such allegations? "Skc*ll*b." He also later suggested that it was hard enough to get something making sense when it's played the right way around, and he certainly doesn't regard himself enough of a genius to write a lyric that can be understood in both directions. Ironically, he was the one who then suggested adding such a thing to the end of Free As A Bird (which he's since altered with the latest remix of this song)!

    If you do want to know nearly* all of the genuine cases within ELO's back catalogue, you can find a list here:

    Jeff Lynne Song Database - Exposing the Secrets! »

    *There is one example in Rain Is Falling on Time that isn't mentioned due to this still being heavily contested, and Beatles Forever has been ignored completely due to that particular track being a sensitive subject from a legal perspective...
     
  15. 32XD Japan1

    32XD Japan1 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Pennsylvania USA
    That's really interesting. I couldn't remember if the backward stuff was on this album or others.
    It's a fact that there are some records that when played backwards do reveal an audible message. Stairway to Heaven is one really good example no one can really contest. Whether it's intentional or just some weird synchronistic event, who knows.

    I checked out your link and it's pretty cool. A bit OT, but IMO the song Livin' Thing is about the human soul, not an abortion as was a widely held opinion.
    The narrative sounds like a person is being subtly persuaded to sell their soul to one "individual," and being warned not to by another "individual".

    It's never been much of an issue for me, but I would presume if in fact it's intentional on the part of the artist, they would never admit it anyway. :)
     
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2016
  16. Khaki F

    Khaki F Forum Resident

    Location:
    Kenosha, WI. USA
    "This song is where the dreamer wakes up to reality, then decides he likes his dream world better and tries to get back to Eldorado." - Eldorado (remastered) liner notes by Jeff Lynne, 2001

    That's a little different than how I'd always interpreted it, which is pretty much the same as bRETT described here:
    The key difference being Lynne's phrase "tries to get back..." I'd always assumed he was successful in returning to his dreams, too.
     
  17. Another theory is that Livin' Thing was a protest song against Japanese whaling, and though he dismissed this, it's possible there may be some truth to it as Jeff was inspired to write a more obvious instrumental piece referencing a documentary on the subject he saw while on tour around that time. On the other hand, he claims that it's simply about love being something that evolves over the course of a relationship, which is quite ironic considering how "Out Of The Blue" he found his first wife announcing her intention to leave him just a few months after that track was recorded... Some fans even believe that ELO's lone (officially released) double album is full of nods to Jeff's domestic situation circa 1977, and it's only more recently he's suggested that Mr. Blue Sky came about when the clouds lifted over the chalet he'd retreated to in Switzerland to write their next LP after A New World Record, the poor weather supposedly affecting his initial creativity. Could it be that he used the weather metaphor of the whole third side comprising the Concerto For A Rainy Day suite as a coping mechanism for what happened? Curiously, the original placeholder lyrics to Livin' Thing were about a Spanish holiday...
     
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  18. 32XD Japan1

    32XD Japan1 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Pennsylvania USA
    I'd never be able to say for certain. I think a lot of songwriters don't want to reveal the actual meaning of their songs, and would rather leave it to the interpretation of the listener.
     
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