Song Lyric Sunday: “Eli’s Coming”

Sometimes I have to give these Song Lyric Sunday entries a lot of thought. And sometimes the song comes to me the second I see the prompt. This is one of the latter ones, because the minute I saw that Helen’s prompt was “hide/hiding/hidden,” I thought of Laura Nyro‘s “Eli’s Coming” as done by one of my favorite bands of all time, Three Dog Night.

Eli’s comin’
Eli’s comin’ (Eli’s a-comin’)
Well, you better hide your heart
Your loving heart
Eli’s a-comin’, and the cards say
A broken heart

Eli’s comin’, hide your heart, girl
Eli’s comin’, hide your heart, girl
Girl, Eli’s a-comin’, you better hide
Girl, Eli’s a-comin’, you better hide
Girl, Eli’s a-comin’, you better hide
Girl, Eli’s comin’, hide your heart, girl (Hide it)
You better, better hide your heart
Eli’s comin’, better walk

Walk but you’ll never get away
No, you’ll never get away from the burnin’ a-heartache
I walked to Apollo by the bay
Everywhere I go, though
Eli’s a-comin’ (She walked, but she never got away)
Eli’s a-comin’ (She walked, but she never got away)
Eli’s a-comin’, and he’s comin’ to get ya (She walked, but, she walked, but)
Get down on your knees (She walked, but she never got away)

Eli’s comin’ (Hide it, hide it, hide it)
Girl, Eli’s a-comin’, you better hide
Girl, Eli’s a-comin’, you better hide
Girl, Eli’s a-comin’, you better hide
Girl, Eli’s comin’, hide your heart, girl (Hide it)
You better, better hide your heart
Eli’s comin’, better walk

Walk but you’ll never get away
No, you’ll never get away from the burnin’ a-heartache
I walked to Apollo by the bay
Everywhere I go, though
Eli’s a-comin’ (She walked, but she’ll never get away)
Eli’s a-comin’ (She walked, but she’ll never get away)
Eli’s a-comin’, and he’s comin’ to get ya (She walked, but, she walked, but)
Get down on your knees (She walked, but she’ll never get away)
Get down on your knees

No-no, no-no
Lord, I said no-no, no-no, no-no

(Hide it) She can
(Hide it) Hide it
(Hide it) You better
(Hide it) Somebody
(Hide it) You got to
(Hide it) Oh, my
(Hide it) Oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh

These lyrics are from MetroLyrics, and I was fine with them until I saw the line “I walked to Apollo by the bay.” Naturally, I thought it was a mondegreen, kind of like in CCR’s “Bad Moon Risin'” (where “There’s a bad moon on the rise” sounds like “There’s a bathroom on the right”) or Jimi Hendrix’s “Purple Haze” (where “‘Scuse me while I kiss the sky” sounds like “‘Scuse me while I kiss this guy”). I checked the other lyric sites, though, and that is indeed what the lovely Ms. Nyro had written. Naturally, the next question I had was “what the h-e-double hockey sticks does ‘I walked to Apollo by the bay’ mean?” I found the answer, oddly enough, on Answers.com:

It’s a place by the water in Australia. Actually, the Temple of Apollo by the Bay of Baiae (now the Bay of Naples) was in ancient times considered to be one of the entrances to the Underworld. So Nyro may have meant nothing more by “I walked to Apollo by the Bay” than “I walked to the very end of the earth.” At this temple, visitors could ask the Sibyl (the priestess of Apollo) about their fate. So perhaps Nyro’s lyric is invoking such a pilgrimage. There is also a famous painting by JMW Turner depicting Apollo (& the Sibyl) by the Bay of Baiae, which Nyro may have had in mind.

We have to figure that was what she had in mind, because, sadly, Laura Nyro died in 1997 of ovarian cancer, leaving behind an impressive catalog of songs she wrote for other people, including Three Dog Night, The Fifth Dimension (“Stoned Soul Picnic,” “Wedding Bell Blues”) and Blood Sweat & Tears (“Hi-De-Ho”). It’s sad that she wasn’t better known for her singing and piano-playing, because she was outstanding at both, and looked good doing them, too. Here she is, doing “Eli’s Coming.”

That’s Song Lyric Sunday for October 14, 2018.

27 thoughts on “Song Lyric Sunday: “Eli’s Coming”

  1. Great choice! 🙂 I picked the same one!
    I didn’t have much explanation of the song, so was glad to read yours, especially about the Apollo by the Bay part, as I had no idea about it.

    Like

    1. Speaking of chills, here’s Bette Midler’s speech when Laura was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame (at least ten years later than she should have been enshrined there)

      She was amazing, one of the best songwriters of our time.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I just found out that in Hebrew the name Eli means “my God”. “I walked to Apollo and the bay” comes from the story of Daphne and Apollo which was an essay written by Patricia Spence Rudden. Nyro was interested in digging into the sexist assumption that the only thing that causes a young woman heartache, or makes her hide her loving heart, or that can give her a broken heart is a man. For Daphne it was the god of poetry and music. Apollo appears in the shape of a man and Daphne called to her father, a river god, who turned her into a laurel tree, forever thereafter sacred to Apollo.

        Like

  2. I love Three Dog Night. Every time I think of this song, I think of exercising because it was on an exercising DVD (not it wasn’t Richard Simmons). I’ve always been baffled by who in the world Eli was. One commenter said it means “my God” in Hebrew, so I wonder if that’s what it means here. Then I wonder if other songwriters did what the Beatles did sometimes…threw weird stuff out there just for laughs.

    Like

    1. A few comments up, Jim talks about a lot of the symbolism in the song (he’s also the one who pointed out the “my God” thing). Most of Laura’s songs were pretty straightforward, but she could be obscure. Think “Stoned Soul Picnic,” where she asked “can you surrey?”

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s