"Livin' Thing" as written by and Jeff Lynne....
Sailin' away on the crest of a wave
It's like magic
Oh, rollin' and ridin' and slippin' and slidin'
It's magic

And you, and your sweet desire
You took me higher and higher, baby
It's a livin' thing
It's a terrible thing to lose
It's a given thing
What a terrible thing to lose

Making believe this is what you conceived
From your worst day
Moving in line then you look back in time
To the first day

And you, and your sweet desire
Don't you do it, don't you do it
You took me, oh higher and higher, baby
It's a livin' thing
It's a terrible thing to lose
It's a given thing
What a terrible thing to lose

Takin' a dive 'cos you can't halt the slide
Floating downstream
So let her go don't start spoiling the show
It's a bad dream

And you, and your sweet desire
You took me higher and higher, baby
It's a livin' thing
It's a terrible thing to lose
It's a given thing
What a terrible thing to lose

It's a livin' thing
It's a terrible thing to lose

Lyrics submitted by Kenobi65

"Livin; Thing" as written by Jeff Lynne

Lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

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Livin' Thing song meanings
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  • +1
    General Commentjeff lynne said that this song has absolutely nothing to do with abortion. it has to do with love being a living thing, or something like that. bbc interview, i think.
    gpciieon January 12, 2005   Link
  • +1
    Song MeaningIt's amazing how open this song was left to different interpretations. The lyrics support at least three different interpretations.

    The first is the cliché classic rock song interpretation: drugs. It's very common and easy to attribute. The song describes a trip, how the drugs start to influence your life, and holding on to those drugs thinking that you need them (particularly from the line "when you look back in time to your first day")

    The second is a bit deeper, where the song is directed to someone contemplating suicide. It describes the depressive state and then tries to convince the person that "it's a livin' thing; it's a terrible thing to lose".

    The third one is in reference to a still-born. The first verse is the conception, the second the birth, and the third, the depression coming from losing a child before it was even born.
    Alternate: abortion. The second verse is the abortion and the third is regret.
    Matthew0440on December 01, 2012   Link
  • +1
    My Interpretationokay, enough of all the hoopla, IMO the 17yo who is fresh to this music and hasn't been bombarded with all the garbage that most of us have from that era i think has the right take on this song... like they say - "out of the mouths of babes"...

    in all fairness - i first need to say that i suck when it comes to hearing the lyrics of songs. when i was a kid i used to sing along to a song that i believed the chorus to be "lots of tomatoes - yeah we got lots of tomatoes.. lots of tomatoes, yeah we got lots of tomatoes".... three guesses anyone?

    in the past several years i've made it my personal quest to learn the correct lyrics (and chords) to songs so i can perform them, and having a look at this song and remembering the vibe of that time (i was 13) i can remember how this song just sent you sailing with the air between the chords and the ever so spanish conquistador-ish violin solos... an all the way cool song indeed. but after studying up on this song a few hours and really trying to understand what the lyrics were actually saying (so i could picture it in my head while im playing it) (it helps me remember) and then reading what some of you guys were saying - i had to chime in, and here is my take...

    "Sailin' away on the crest of a wave -- It's like magic
    Rollin' and ridin' and slippin' & slidin' -- It's magic"

    obviously this is referring to the thrill and excitement of new love well depicted with these words... its like catching a wave, awkward, clumsy and unpredictable but completely thrilling... "like magic"

    "And you, and your sweet desire, You took me, higher and higher"

    i believe this to be the girl he is talking to his new love. the work "took" in this sentence already clues you into the fact that he is looking back as in past tense. he's reminiscing of his early memories of how it was.

    "It's a livin' thing - it's a terrible thing to lose
    It's a given thing - what a terrible thing to lose"

    clearly he is pleading her to not take what they have for granted for it would be a "terrible" loss

    "Making believe this is what you conceived from your worst day
    Moving in line then you look back in time to your first day"

    clearly they are to the point in the relationship where the novelty is gone, she is bored and looking for an excuse for it to be over, "has a bad day", lashes out and tells him i knew this wouldn't work from the start. i get from the second line "moving in line" that she has already blown him off and she is in some sort of line maybe with some other guy to get into a show or something and wont give him the time of day and lashes out at him while he is trying to reason with her because deep down inside she's really embaraced but feels the need to save her own face in front of the new guy. dude nothing sucks more than public humiliation! ouch.

    "Chorus: repeat" obvious pleading and reminiscing over a girl who totally frigin rocked his world like never before...

    at the end of this chorus comes the break:

    "I'm taking a dive….. Halt the slide…. Hey!!"

    fanfare and preparation for the concluding chapter of this dramatic operetta!
    this is referring to the part of the relationship where he realizes there is no hope and she was gone before she was gone, and now he's ready to face the fact.

    "Takin' a dive 'cos you can't halt the slide floating downstream,
    So let her go don't start spoiling the show it's a bad dream."

    the first line he's realizing its time to admit that its over. the slide is the obvious fact that its done, and he knows he's gonna be bummed. he's been dumped hard and he knows he's gonna feel like shit about the whole thing for a good long time and there's no way to stop, or "halt" it. i get that he's been around the block a few times because he already knows what's ahead, kind of a more mature age of say mid to late 20's?

    second line he's talking to himself saying "dude get ahold of yourself" and snap out of it, there's more fish in the sea, more good times ahead and trying to convince himself that it was no big deal and it was just "a bad dream". but then the last chorus chimes in to haunt him by reminding him how sweet it was....

    so there's my take of the classic tale of boy meets girl, boy loses girl, and the long road to recovery trying to figure out what the hell just happened?

    awesome song that i cant wait to play for folks to see what their reaction is!
    musicgearheadon December 31, 2013   Link
  • +1
    My InterpretationThis song has been open to many interpretations over the years. In interviews Jeff Lynne himself has stated it is simply about love being a living thing. And while I cannot argue with the writer's assessment of his own lyrics, I can't help but feel that something else was left out of the story.

    To understand the full story you have to know the early days of the ELO. Their original lineup consisted of Jeff Lynne, Roy Wood, Bev Bevan, Bill Hunt, and Steve Woolam.

    Upon completion of the first album, violinist Steve Woolam committed suicide. Although very little information can be found about this gentleman, what is out there paints a sad story of lost love, a falling out, and drugs which ultimately led him to jump from a building to his death.

    Knowing this and listening to the lyrics again and again I could not help but feel that this song is an account of Lynne's own emotions about this pivotal, yet oddly hushed moment of the band's history.

    In the lyrics he starts out talking about the emotional highs one feels when they are falling in love (Sailing away on the crest of a wave, it's like magic...) Then he goes to the next verse questioning what could have driven someone to move down the line so fast (makin' believe this is what you conceived from your worst day). Final verse he's talking about the act of suicide itself, still searching for reason and offering advice (Taking a dive, can't halt the slide... So let her go, don't start spoiling the show, it's a bad dream).

    Additionally he throws in background vocals throughout the song like "I'm taking a dive", "Higher and Higher" "Don't you do it" and an eerie, almost weeping violin to go along with all of it.

    I could be completely off, but it just seems to be a logical explanation knowing the band's history. I'd be curious to know others' opinions here.
    livinthing76on May 02, 2016   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI remember that they did a TV ad for this album (A New World Record). It depicted a discus-thrower throwing a "discus," which was actually the ELO "starship." After it lands, a track-and-field judge (portrayed, IIRC, by Slim Pickens) comes running up with a tape measure, and says, "It's a new world record," as the chorus to "Livin' Thing" swells. Hearing this song always takes me back to 1976, and seeing that ad.
    Kenobi65on June 14, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI remember that ad seeing it somewhere. its funny, and what a great song this is.
    poohblueskyon June 30, 2003   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI've heard this song is meant to be against abortion. I don't know how true that is, but it seems to fit.
    emimion October 08, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General Commentits "Sailin' away on the crest of a wave"
    Soldier_of_Funkon June 20, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis song has nothing to do with abortion, though the lyrics fit. Anything could fit to these lyrics if you set your mind to it though. This song is about love. Love is reffered to as a living thing in it, and it is such a terrible thing to lose.
    Niftyon June 30, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentTeah this song is about love, but like nifty said if u put your mind to it it could portray heaps of stuff, like Australia losing to Italy in the 2006 world cup . lol
    SwoopSwoop_RockRocon July 19, 2006   Link

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