…now his hand is on your shoulder

It was 02:29 a.m. Houston time and Day Three of the 135th and final flight of a glorious, tragic 30-year program. Time to awaken the (light) four-person crew of Space Shuttle Atlantis for one of Mission STS-135’s most critical maneuvers. A favorite of Commander Chris Ferguson, and chosen by his family, today’s selection served as the wake-up call.

With a name that conjures up laser-light images but was actually derived from the use of  “electric” rock instruments combined with “light orchestra” (one that uses only a few cellos and violins), Electric Light Orchestra (or ELO) was formed in 1970 when Birmingham musicians Jeff Lynne and Roy Wood had the idea to “take rock music in the direction that the Beatles had left off.”

Originally billed internationally as “The English guys with big fiddles,” their eponymous debut album, “The Electric Light Orchestra” was released in the UK in 1971 and later in the U.S. as “No Answer” (after a record company secretary tried to ring the UK producers for the name of the album and, unable reach to reach them, left a note with the words “No Answer”).

Today’s selection, which ambitiously serves as the final track of the “Concerto for a Rainy Day Suite” was featured on ELO’s seventh studio album, “Out of the Blue” in 1977.  It peaked at Number 35 on the US Billboard Charts and reached Number Six on the UK Singles Chart.

The song is notable for the “vocoded” voice that sings “Mr. Blue Sky” during certain stanzas and it was long assumed that the (synthesized) vocoded voice at the end of the song is saying the same thing, but it’s actually saying “Please turn me over” as the song was at the end of Side Three and the listener was being instructed to flip the LP over.

Atlantis seemed to understand. The mission brief for that July morning in 2011 included the last-ever docking between a space shuttle and a space station. According to the NASA record … “with Atlantis arriving on time on the R-Bar underneath the Station, Commander Ferguson took the controls and guided her through the 360 degree back flip, the final time an orbiter will conduct the RPM under the Station they helped to build….”

 LISTEN TO TODAY’S SELECTION – Friday 16 March

Mr. Blue Sky

 Sun is shinin’ in the sky

There ain’t a cloud in sight

It’s stopped rainin’ everybody’s in a play

And don’t you know

It’s a beautiful new day hey, hey

Runnin’ down the avenue

See how the sun shines brightly in the city

On the streets where once was pity

Mister Blue Sky is living here today hey, hey, hey

Mister Blue Sky please tell us why

You had to hide away for so long

Where did we go wrong?

Mister Blue Sky please tell us why

You had to hide away for so long

Where did we go wrong?

Hey you with the pretty face

Welcome to the human race

A celebration, Mister Blue Sky’s up there waitin’

And today is the day we’ve waited for

Mister Blue Sky please tell us why

You had to hide away for so long

Where did we go wrong?

 Hey there, Mister Blue

We’re so pleased to be with you

Look around see what you do

Everybody smiles at you

 Hey there, Mister Blue

We’re so pleased to be with you

Look around see what you do

Everybody smiles at you

Mister Blue Sky, Mister Blue Sky

Mister Blue Sky

 Mister Blue, you did it right

But soon comes Mister Night, creepin’ over

Now his hand is on your shoulder

Never mind, I’ll remember you this

I’ll remember you this way

 Mister Blue Sky please tell us why

You had to hide away for so long

Where did we go wrong?

 Hey there Mister Blue

We’re so pleased to be with you

Look around see what you do

Everybody smiles at you

 Please turn me over

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