ELO’s ‘Don’t Bring Me Down… Bruce!’

Share This:

The list of well known misheard lyrics in classic rock songs generally begins with Jimi Hendrix’s “Purple Haze,” where listeners have misinterpreted the line “‘scuse me while I kiss the sky” for “‘scuse me while I kiss this guy.”

Many thought The Beatles were singing about “the girl with colitis goes by” in “Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds.” Or that the Monkees’ were making fun of an unattractive girl in “I’m a Believer” when they supposedly sang “Then I saw her face, now I’m gonna leave her.” There’s even an out-of-print book from 1995 called ‘Scuse Me While I Kiss This Guy: And Other Misheard Lyrics.

Does the ELO smash, “Don’t Bring Me Down,” mention someone named Bruce?

When Jeff Lynne wrote “Don’t Bring Me Down” for the Electric Light Orchestra’s 1979 album, Discovery, he, er, discovered that he had unwittingly caused confusion with one of the song’s throwaway lyrics. As he explained on the VH1 series Storytellers: “You know that little daft bit in there that goes [unintelligible]. I just made it up in the studio. It was actually ‘groose,’ which happens to mean something. The engineer was German and he said ‘How did you know that word?’ And I said: ‘What word?’ And he said ‘Groose… it means greetings in German.’ I said: “That’s good… I’ll leave it in.”

He continues: “We started going on tour and every time we played [it] everyone used to sing ‘Bruce,’ so I said ‘Ah, f*ck it, I’ll sing Bruce as well’!”

Watch Lynne tell the story during an interview for SiriusXM’s Classic Vinyl channel, this time with a Bruce Willis reference

Related: Our review of Jeff Lynne’s ELO in New York on August 21, 2018

Watch Lynne and Co perform “Don’t Bring Me Down” in 2016

Incidentally, of the dozens of singles ELO has released, guess which one is their highest-charting effort in the U.S.? Well, before 1979 the answer would have been 1977’s “Telephone Line.” The band have a total of seven Top 10 singles on the Hot 100. “Don’t Bring Me Down” is their biggest at #4, which it reached on September 22, 1979.

Lynne was born Dec. 30, 1947. When Jeff Lynne’s ELO tours again, tickets will be available here and here.

Listen to the studio version

Best Classic Bands Staff

7 Comments so far

Jump into a conversation
  1. Billy K.
    #1 Billy K. 21 January, 2018, 07:09

    Many of the mis-heard lyrics business, well, most people are not paying attention…and I figured most of them, out of the starting blocks. But there are a few exceptions.

    On this song, I actually thought it was “Bruce”, too…..the fact that it had “California-style” harmonies in the break, made me think it was some kind of an oblique reference to Bruce Johnston of the Beach Boys!

    Reply this comment
    • Guy Smiley
      Guy Smiley 30 December, 2018, 15:19

      For many years, I thought he was asking Springsteen to not bring him down with his workingman’s tales of lament.

      One can see how that might be, given the contrast between Springsteen’s songs vs. ELO’s Beatlesque arena pop-rock.

      Reply this comment
      • BMac
        BMac 22 September, 2023, 11:19

        Actually, a very plausible theory. I just love it that the “word” was “groose”, and after audiences responded in concert with “Bruce”, Jeff said…ah, funk it, Bruce it is!

        Reply this comment
  2. Deplorable and Irredeemable
    #2 Deplorable and Irredeemable 21 January, 2018, 22:37

    I always assummed the word was “gross”.

    Reply this comment
  3. Herb
    #3 Herb 4 January, 2019, 02:27

    There was a Stevie Nicks song years ago about something like “mashed potatoes”…

    Reply this comment
  4. Scottyboy
    #4 Scottyboy 28 August, 2019, 01:10

    Timeless songs from the master, Jeff Lynne

    Reply this comment
  5. 122intheshade
    #5 122intheshade 23 September, 2021, 00:14

    I originally heard “Evil Woman” differently. The song goes “Eeee-evil Woman”. The line near the end about “no place for love to go” got me to thinking about a scene in the book “The Love Machine”, and so I heard the lyric as “Illegal woman”. What a plot twist that was, eh? Mondegreen this!

    Reply this comment

Your data will be safe!Your e-mail address will not be published. Also other data will not be shared with third person.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.