Song Thoughts: Concerto for a Rainy Day

I have fallen in love again with Electric Light Orchestra’s 1977 Out of the Blue. I’ve always liked it, but recently, as I walk, engage in academic endeavors, check email, contemplate the future, or just sit and relax, I have consistently listened to this album, specifically side three, and what a musical opera! I listen to it at least once a day…can’t get enough. On vinyl, side three  is often referred to as Concerto for a Rainy Day consisting of the songs “Standing in the Rain”, “Big Wheels”, “Summer and Lightning”, and “Mr. Blue Sky” and is approximately 20 minutes of Jeff Lynne’s sheer musical genius. 

My first exposure to ELO was the 1979 album Discovery, which included the hit “Don’t Bring Me Down” and a cool little tune titled “Shine a Little Love”. After that album, I had to have more ELO! My next stop was the local record store where I purchased the double album ​​

Out of the Blue. ELO. Who were these guys? Double albums were only for legendary live performances! Or Pink Floyd trying to break down a wall! The album cover was a bold colored spaceship which  resembled the electronic game Simon Says. Open the album and it was a stellar view of the inner workings of the spaceship…totally cool! But what is the connection to the music? Obviously it is that Jeff Lynne is not of this world and his musical genius has to be an alien intelligence! Lynne is a legend. 

Back to the Concerto for a Rainy Day. I find the lyrics of “Big Wheels” packed with the most emotion at this moment in time.

I think I’m going home
I think I’m gonna have to start again
It’s rather sad
Because I’ve looked around, can’t seem to find
Whatever’s always rolling through my mind 
Big wheels, turning, turning, turning, turning
I remember the dead of night
A lonely light that shines upon the window
I see it all so clear
The tenderness, the silent tears
Out here in the pouring rain
Through cold dark waiting days
I see you standing there
I see the big wheels turning
Never ending, on and on they go. 

As the concerto begins, our protagonist is standing in the cold rain lamenting his situation and then contemplates the big wheeled machine of society that just keeps turning and turning and is literally out of anyone’s control. The rain continues but add warmth and lightning to offer a little hope and then the blue sky appears and makes everything better.

Life goes on.

And my own big wheels just keep turning and turning.

And I still remain. 

© 2023 Gregory Vessar. A Thousand Miles from Kansas. All Rights Reserved.

Concerto for a Rainy Day by ELO. 1977 Out of the Blue.
Categories: Music, PhilosophyTags: , , ,


  1. Wow. Another great memory brought back. I remember this album. My brother and I shared it. I can’t remember which one of us bought it. Sadly I no longer have it. But it is legendary.

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