Music: The Traveling Wilburys
Pictured: Musical AwesomenessBob Dylan
. Roy Orbison
. Tom Petty
. George Harrison
. Jeff Lynne
. Holy Shit
One of the greatest supergroups
of all time, this rare confluence of nearly 200 combined years of musical history came together in the very late 1980s to produce two albums (or so-see below).
The Traveling Wilburys provide examples of the following tropes:
- Accidental Supergroup: Jeff Lynne was producing a single b-side for George Harrison, who needed to go get a guitar that he'd loaned to Tom Petty, who mentioned that Bob Dylan had a pretty good home recording studio (since Harrison was recording in the USA and couldn't use his usual FPSHOT home studio), and by the way he had just been talking to Roy Orbison... Yada yada yada, they had a hit single.
- Affectionate Parody: Many of their songs come across as this - taking standard rock lyric tropes and pushing them just a little bit too far into absurdity.
- Alien Abduction: Mentioned as a possible explanation for the title character vanishing in "Maxine".
- All There in the Manual/Alter Ego Acting/Back Story: The Liner Notes and peripheral materials describe the group as members of some ancient clan of nomadic musicians, and give each member a Wilbury family name; a different one on each album. The group is apparently made up of half-brothers, all sons of Charles Truscott Wilbury, and different mothers.
- Anonymous Band/Fake Band: Ostensibly.
- Author Existence Failure: Roy Orbison died before Volume 3, which was dedicated to him; that's why they never made any more, and George Harrison has since followed him.
- B-Side: What "Handle with Care" was originally going to be, until the label executives heard it, and decided an album was in order.
- Bo Diddley Beat: On "Margarita".
- Cool Old Guy: Up to five of them, depending on the cutoff for "old".
- Crazy Jealous Guy: Played for Laughs in "Where Were You Last Night?"
- Dance Sensation: "The Wilbury Twist"
- Development Gag: In "Dirty World", one of the Noodle Implements mentioned is "She loves your Trembling Wilbury"—The Trembling Wilburys was the working name for the band ("wilbury" being an in-joke Harrison made about engineers claiming that "we'll bury" mistakes in the mix).
- Dream Team: If you've liked music anytime in the last 50 years, then yes.
- Empty Chair Memorial: The Traveling Wilburys' music video for "End of the Line" cuts to an empty chair during Roy Orbison's stanza, as Orbison died before shooting the video.
- Executive Meddling: A positive example—George had all the others over just to record a B-side, and the producers rather sensibly informed him that this "B-side" deserved to be the first track of an album.
- Five-Man Band: Literally.
- The Garfunkel: A lot of current-day "fans" of the of the Traveling Wilburys have trouble recognizing Jeff Lynne, with one particularly egregious YouTube comment asking who "the Muppet with the women's sunglasses" is. Subverted in that Jeff Lynne was actually one of the driving forces behind the band; he just has the misfortune of not having as huge of a legacy as his bandmates. Not yet, anyway...
- Green Aesop: "The Devil's Been Busy" and possibly "Inside Out".
- Indecipherable Lyrics: In "Margarita", largely because some of the lyrics appear to be an Indian language (Author Appeal for George Harrison perhaps?)
- Intercourse with You: "Dirty World", according to Word of God, is an Affectionate Parody of Prince. Which means you get Bob Dylan singing lines like
You don't need no wax job, you're smooth enough for me
Oh baby, the pleasure be all mine
If you let me drive your pickup truck and park it where the sun don't shine
- Joisey: "Tweeter and the Monkey Man".
- Murder Ballad: "Tweeter and the Monkey Man", which gives us an example of …
- No Name Given: The undercover cop in "Tweeter and the Monkey Man" is always referred to as "The undercover cop".
- Noodle Implements: "Cool Dry Place" mostly mentions musical machines, with the addition of a few oddities.
- "Dirty World", too. Most of the items sound like they're taken from a car advert, but there are exceptions.
- The Schlub Pub Seduction Deduction: "Last Night"
- Self-Titled Album: Twice.
- Special Guest: The Wilburys recorded a version of The Beatles' "I Call Your Name" as a tribute to John Lennon, with Ringo Starr added to the lineup as lead singer.
- Super Group: Big time.
- Transsexual: Tweeter in "Tweeter and the Monkey Man".
- Un Installment: The two albums released by the Wilburys were titled The Traveling Wilburys Volume 1 and The Traveling Wilburys Volume 3, respectively. Tom Petty's solo album Full Moon Fever may count as an unofficial ''Volume 2'': Jeff Lynne was the producer for it as for the other two volumes, and some tracks feature contributions from some of the others.
- What Could Have Been: There was talk of a tour, which sadly never came to be.
George Harrison: I've always played around in my own mind what a Wilburys tour could be. Would each person do a solo set and then do Wilburys at the end, or would we all go right on from beginning to end and make everything Wilburys? It's an intriguing thought. We could have a great band up there and the four of us could play acoustic if we wanted to. We could all sing 'Blowin' In The Wind' and Bob could sing 'Something'. Or we could just sing our individual songs and make them Wilbury tunes, as if we'd recorded them that way. Whatever it was, we could do it.
- Also, Del Shannon was briefly considered as a replacement for Orbison, as Jeff Lynne was producing Shannon's comeback album, but he died before they could do anything together. The Wilburys paid tribute by covering his hit "Runaway".