"10538 Overture" as written by and Jeff Lynne....
Did you see your friend crying from his eyes today
Did you see him run through the streets and far away
Did you see him run, did you see him fall
Did his life flash by at the bedroom door

Did you hear the news it came across the air today
Someone has been found on the rocks down in the bay
Did you see him hide, did you see him crawl
Does his life mean more than it did before

Did you see that man running through the streets today
Did you catch his face, was it 10538

Lyrics submitted by Random7

"10538 Overture" as written by Jeff Lynne

Lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Warner Chappell Music, Inc.

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10538 Overture song meanings
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  • +2
    General Comment"When we eventually came to record the vocals, Jeff was looking for a title to portray a man with a number instead of a name. After staring into the space for a while, we noticed the serial number on the modules of the recording console, 1053. With a bit of juggling, it ended up as 10538... and as its the first song with our new idea... 10538 Overture... YES!" (Roy Wood, 1990)
    Lunavoxon July 24, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThis is a very beautiful song with very deep lyrics:

    Did you see your friend crying from his eyes today
    Did you see him run through the streets and far away
    Did you see him run, did you see him fall
    Did his life flash by at the bedroom door

    *It's referring to a person whose friend is a non-conformist in a society of conformity, he almost conformed (did you see him run, did you see him fall) but this person made a come back, and wasn't lost to conformity or society.*

    When "someone has been found on the rocks down in the bay," this non-conformist has "died" or conformed to society...
    And his life means more than it did before because non-conformists are considered radicals, and there aren't that many to begin with.. Now there are even fewer left.

    People are talking in disgust as Number 10538 had tried to escape the normalness of life, and trying to escape the safeness of it all.
    iam10538on April 06, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThis is a beautiful, haunting song about a man who has committed murder, told from the perspective of his friend who obviously had not idea he was capable of that kind of a crime.
    Though to me "10538" has always reminded me in a way of "Les Miserables"- the play where the main character (a criminal) is hunted by an unrelenting police officer who refuses to call him by his name- and calls him his prison number. There's probably no connection, but it did ring a bell.
    MelodyPowerson April 15, 2016   Link
  • 0
    General Comment"I suspect it was a prison break with 10538 being his number" - Joe Elliot (Def Leppard)

    To me its knowing a friend that committed a murder. "was it 10538" a bit of forshadowing of his soon to be prison number.
    Firewalkeron June 02, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI think that this song is about a man trying to escape 'the system' or the constant grind of everyday life and commiting suicide, and the number 10538 symbolizing the fact that the man was little more than a number to everyone else.
    "Does his life mean more than it did before"
    After the man commited suicide the news came on and identified the man, as if suddenly he is more important, even though noone stopped him when he commited suicide, and noone made his life easier for him.
    Aslaon June 25, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentVery Sgt. Pepperish at the end...
    LeftyTownshendon September 24, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentReferring to the central figure only by digits: it lends a dystopian feel to this peculiarly nebulous composition. Even by today's standards: the overdriven, upper-midrange screech of the guitar drone feels unearthly.

    Not sure whether the song was recorded after THX 1138 hit the theaters. Maybe slightly before.

    From hearing their first two LPs: who'd have predicted ELO would become a consistent source of symphonic pop confections? WIth a desperate isn't-it-Beatlesque sheen dripping from every groove.
    foreverdroneon March 17, 2018   Link

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