Well it's all right, if you live the life you please.
Well it's all right, doing the best you can,
Well it's all right, as long as you lend a hand.
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: 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.
- B-Side: What "Handle With Care" was originally going to be, until the label executives heard it and decided an album was in order.
- Crazy Jealous Guy: Played for Laughs in "Where Were You Last Night?"Where were you last year?
You sure as hell weren't here!
- Dance Sensation: "The Wilbury Twist" invites the dancer to, among other things, fall on his ass, put his teeth in a glass, and put a blindfold on so his friends can get away from him.Could be YEARS before you're missed!
- Empty Chair Memorial: The music video for "End of the Line" cuts to an empty rocking chair with Roy Orbison's guitar lying in it during his stanza, as he had died before shooting the video.
- 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 likeYou don't need no wax job, you're smooth enough for me
If you need your oil changed I'll do it for you free
Oh baby, the pleasure be all mine
If you let me drive your pickup truck and park it where the sun don't shine
- In the Style of...: "Tweeter and the Monkey Man" was Bob Dylan's attempt at writing a Bruce Springsteen song.
- Joisey: "Tweeter and the Monkey Man", which also gives us examples of...
- Murder Ballad: fused with surreal pulp in a manner reminiscent of Quentin Tarantino.
- Not Cheating Unless You Get Caught: "Jan had told him many times, 'It was * you* to * me* who taught in Jersey everything's legal as long as you don't get caught"
- Affectionate Parody of Bruce Springsteen. Nearly every other line has a reference to one of his songs, and the scenario itself is an Up to 11 stew of every trope in his ouvre.
- No Name Given: The undercover cop in "Tweeter and the Monkey Man" is always referred to as "The undercover cop".
- Shoot The TV: The monkey man at the end. Apparently he objected to his portrayal in the news coverage.
- Sole Survivor: Implied to be the fate of the Monkey Man.
- Transgender: Tweeter. Notable that it's taken seriously, and portrayed non-sexually.
- 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.
- Line-of-Sight Name: Reportedly the insporation for Handle With Care came from Harrison looking over at the markings on a crate used to ship some of the studio equipment.
- List Song: "Cool Dry Place", which is essentially about a rock star waking up at the end of The '80s and wondering how he got all this stuff for making music....reverbs we can't use, lots of DX7's and old athletic shoes...
- Punny Name: The group's name originates from a piece of banter George Harrison and Jeff Lynne came up with while recording, in reference to mistakes: "We'll burynote them in the mix."
- 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.
- And arguably John Fogerty, who made a live appearance in 1987 alongside George Harrison and Bob Dylan, in a group which bootleggers often refer to as "The Silver Wilburys". Strictly a Fan Nickname, though, as the real Wilburys weren't formed until 1988 (and the other Wilburys sans George and Dylan weren't present for this event anyway).
- Super Group: Big time. It's hard to imagine a more super group even being possible.
- 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.
- Jeff Lynne's solo album Armchair Theatre, released just three months before Volume 3, is a possible contender as well, especially noting the presence of George Harrison as one of the record's primary personnel.
- There's also a theory that "Volume 2" is What Could Have Been if not for Orbison's death, a missing episode that was deliberately omitted as a sign of respect for Roy.
- Vocal Tag Team: Obviously; all five pretty much share lead and backup vocal duties. Enforced Trope on Volume 3, where several of the songs were originally recorded with Dylan as lead vocalist and later overdubbed to add lead vocals by other members.