How ELO wrote “The diary of Horace Wimp”
Published (updated: ) in music, satire.
(The scene: members of 70s prog-rock-pop band Electric Light Orchestra are in the recording studio, putting the final finishing touches to what will, in years to come, be one of their best-known and most-loved songs: The Diary of Horace Wimp. The band are standing still, holding their instruments, as the final bars of the song play out over the studio speakers. JEFF LYNNE is nodding along, smiling.)
JEFF LYNNE: Fantastic! Sounds great, doesn’t it lads?
BEV BEVAN: Actually, I think it’s a bit crap.
JEFF LYNNE: What? Why d’you say that? I thought you liked it.
BEV BEVAN: I do like it. I like the whole song. But it sounds daft when you miss out “Saturday” in that bit at the end.
JEFF LYNNE (Shifting on his feet a bit and looking down at his guitar uncomfortably): Oh. You noticed that bit then.
MIK KAMINSKI: It’s hard not to notice it, Jeff.
BEV BEVAN: It’s ridiculous.
JEFF LYNNE: No it’s not.
BEV BEVAN: Yes it is. You’ve got this massively over-produced vocal track going “Monday / Tuesday / Wednesday / Thursday / Friday / Sunday / Monday / Tuesday…” It sounds plain daft.
MIK KAMINSKI: Sounds bloody stupid.
JEFF LYNNE: But Saturday doesn’t fit, does it? You pillocks. Sat-ur-day. It’s got three syllables ain’t it? You can’t have “Monday / Tuesday / Wednesday / Friday / Sat-ur-day / Sunday…” THAT would sound bloody stupid. You’ve got to leave out Saturday or it doesn’t scan.
BEV BEVAN: You managed to fit Wednesday in.
JEFF LYNNE: Because it’s only two syllables isn’t it? You great spanner. It’s written Wed-nes-day but you say it as “Wens-day” don’t you?
BEV BEVAN: We could do the same with Saturday then. Sing it as “Sat-day.”
(There is a brief moment of silence.)
JEFF LYNNE: Sat-day?
BEV BEVAN: Yeah.
JEFF LYNNE: Sing it for me then.
BEV BEVAN: OK. Monday / Tuesday / Wednesday / Thursday / Friday / Sat-day / Sunday / Monday -“
(He stops. JEFF LYNNE is howling with laughter. MIK KAMINSKI looks uncomfortable.)
JEFF LYNNE: NOW who sounds bloody stupid, eh? Sat-day! Sat-day? Everyone will laugh at us.
BEV BEVAN: They’ll be laughing at us anyway.
JEFF LYNNE: What do you mean?
BEV BEVAN: The whole song’s daft isn’t it? Horace Wimp? “Go out and find / yourself a wife.” I mean, come on. It’s kids stuff. It’s ridiculous.
JEFF LYNNE: It’s a story. You napkin. The song tells a story.
BEV BEVAN: Well it’s a bloody stupid story.
MIK KAMINSKI: Perhaps if we swapped out singing the days of the week, and put in a bit more violin?
JEFF LYNNE: Shut up, Mik.
MIK KAMINSKI: I can make it sound like it’s saying days of the week, you know. It’s like a talking violin. I’m good at that.
JEFF LYNNE: No, Mik. We’ve recorded it now, and that’s how it’s staying. It sounds great. People are going to love it.
BEV BEVAN: You’re not the boss of this band, Jeff.
JEFF LYNNE: I bloody am.
BEV BEVAN: One day I’ll quit, you know, and go and form my own ELO. And we’ll sing it as “Sat-day” too. Then who’ll play your bloody drums for you, eh?
JEFF LYNNE: I’ll get some electric drums. Electric Light Orchestra, remember?
(Another short silence while everyone sulks a bit.)
BEV BEVAN: There’s one other thing I keep meaning to ask you…
JEFF LYNNE (Red with fury): WHAT??
BEV BEVAN: Who’s that Bruce bloke you keep singing about in ‘Don’t Bring Me Down’? Eh?