7 Songs You Didn't Know Jeff Lynne Helped Write: Sam Smith, George Harrison and...The Pussycat Dolls?
Sam Smith's "Stay With Me" was one of the biggest songs of 2014 and this week's big news was that Tom Petty would receive a songwriting credit for the song due to its similarities to his own "I Won't Back Down," a coincidence that Petty referred to as a "musical accident no more no less." Although Petty has appeared in all of the headlines, an equal amount of the songwriting credit was also awarded to Jeff Lynne, the frontman for the Electric Light Orchestra, who has been behind the scenes on many a track. Check out a list of Lynne's other surprise songwriting credits, not counting work with band's he's a part of, including the Traveling Wilburys.
"Into The Great Wide Open"/"Learning to Fly" by Tom Petty (1991)
As you may have picked up on from the fact that Lynne also received a songwriting credit for Smith's single, he also played a role in writing "I Won't Back Down" for Petty. It wouldn't be the last time he teamed up with the Heartbreakers' frontman, and he had a particularly good year during 1991 when he helped pen "Into The Great Wide Open" and "Learning To Fly," the latter of which is one of Petty's best tracks.
"Do Ya" by The Move (1972)
The Electric Light Orchestra had its first taste of chart success when the "10538 Overture" reached no. 9 during 1972. Prior to that however, Lynne had also dabbled in songwriting and performing with other bands. One of those groups was The Move, which Lynne was a temporary member of when he wrote "Do Ya," prior to it peaking at no. 93 on the Billboard Hot 100. Lynne's main project eventually took off however and he decided to go back to his song as a "cover" of sorts. ELO's version of "Do Ya" peaked at no. 24 on the American charts.
"One Way Love" by Agnetha Fältskog (1985)
Everyone knows what happens when a huge act breaks down: The individual members go their separate ways and tries to cut it as a solo act. Such was the case with ABBA when it broke up during 1982. Most of ABBA's songwriting was handled by Björn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson, so Agnetha Fältskog had to find some other big voices when it came to pushing her solo albums. She employed Lynne during the recording or her second album Eyes of A Woman, for the song "One Way Love." If you doubt his skills, you should know that Fältskog was choosy: She turned down a track written by Elvis Costello.
"This Is Love" by George Harrison (1988)
Despite the huge sales totals of Electric Light Orchestra, few people are aware of Lynne's responsibility for it. That doesn't really matter when bigger names in the industry appreciate you however. Petty brought him into the fold for The Traveling Wilburys and those performers took a liking to him as well. Former Beatle George Harrison had help from Lynne when writing "This Is Love" for the album Cloud Nine. It was a modestly successful single, peaking at no. 53 on the UK charts, although single "When We Was Fab" got to no. 23 on the Hot 100.
"Let It Shine" by Brian Wilson (1988)
It was a heck of a year for Lynne during 1988. There were essentially two bands that made several of the greatest records ever during the '60s: The Beatles and The Beach Boys (The Rolling Stones hit its stride at the end of the decade). Lynne had already worked with George Harrison but he also got the opportunity to work with Brian Wilson, the brain behind the Beach Boys. Brian Wilson was the first solo album for the songwriter after a long run with his major band. Lynne was one of the less controversial songwriters featured on the album: Eugene Landy, the performer's psychologist, and his wife Morgan were listed as songwriters on many of the tracks. After it was revealed the doctor had essentially been exploiting Wilson, he and his wife's credits were removed from reissues.
"Beep" by The Pussycat Dolls (2006)
You've probably noticed a trend in the types of people that Lynne tends to work with when songwriting: American rock icons. That's why many are surprised to find out that he had a hand in crafting the very non-rock "Beep" for the Pussycat Dolls during 2005. The song was a hot mess of hit songwriters, including Will.i.am (who also performed on the track) and eventual American Idol judge Kara DioGuaradi. Of course, Lynne wasn't exactly sitting in the room when the song was dreamt up: "Beep" featured an instrumental hook that was nearly 100 percent sampled from ELO's 1975 song "Evil Woman."