Album: On The Third Day (1973)
Charted: 12 53


  • This was written by group leader Jeff Lynne, who is a huge Beatles fan. On September 28, 1974, John Lennon gave the song quite an endorsement when he appeared on the New York City radio station WNEW. Said Lennon: "'Showdown' I thought was a great record and I was expecting it to be #1 but I don't think UA [United Artists] got their fingers out and pushed it. And it's a nice group - I call them 'Son of Beatles' - although they're doing things we never did, obviously. But I remember a statement they made when they first formed was to carry on from where the Beatles left off with 'Walrus,' and they certainly did. This is a beautiful combination of 'I Heard It Through The Grapevine' by Marvin Gaye and 'Lightnin' Strikes' by Lou Christie, and it's a beautiful job with a little 'I Am The Walrus' underneath."
  • This was ELO's third single. In the liner notes to their 1979 Greatest Hits album, Jeff Lynne said: "On the early songs like 'Showdown,' we were still trying to find our way musically, but I can still listen to these tracks and smile and think how important they seemed at the time, even though at some of our shows we outnumbered the audience!"
  • The liner notes for the ELO 2 remastered CD state: "'Showdown' was initially recorded under the working title 'Bev's Trousers No. 7.' The song later proved to be a favorite of John Lennon's and a popular departure into R&B (with cellos) for the band. During these sessions, Marc Bolan was also in the studio, recording material. The UK superstar and chart phenomenon was a friend of Jeff's from his Idle Race days and accepted an invitation to play guitar on three ELO tracks. Marc also lent Jeff his 1953 Gibson Firebird for Showdown's guitar solo. 'Showdown' was Jeff Lynne's first self-composed worldwide hit single and ELO's final release for EMI on 14 September 1973. The original promotional film, featuring an ELO performance on the banks of the River Thames, survives in EMI's archive."
  • Artists to cover this song include Odia Coates, Asia, and The Cadets.

Comments: 3

  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn June 7, 1974, the Electric Light Orchestra performed "Showdown" on the NBC-TV late night musical/variety program 'The Midnight Special'...
    At the time "Showdown" was between appearances on Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart...
    It first entered the Top 100 on November 25th, 1973 for an 11 week stay, peaking at #53...
    Then three years later on August 1st, 1976 it re-entered the Top 100, this time it spent 7 weeks on the chart and reached #59...
    Between 1973 and 1986 the British group had twenty-six records on the Top 100 chart; seven made the Top 10 with their biggest hit being "Don't Bring Me Down", it peaked at #4 {for 2 weeks} on September 2nd, 1979...
    One of their seven Top 10 records was a duet with Olivia Newton-John, "Xanadu", it peaked at #8 {for 2 weeks} on October 5th, 1980...
    May God bless and watch over Ms. Newton-John*...
    * Per: {June 3rd, 2017}
    Olivia Newton-John has been forced to postpone all concerts for the month of June as the back pain which had been attributed to sciatica, turned out to be a recurrence of her breast cancer that has now metastasized to the sacrum. The announcement was made Tuesday (May 30th, 2017). The 68 year-old had postponed her May concerts nearly a month ago. Olivia will complete a course of photon radiation therapy and undergo natural wellness therapies.
  • Oola from Sac, CaI am sure I'm the only person that feels this way, but this song makes me so sad. It reminds me of someone's dead dreams. I refuse to believe it's a song about a breakup. It's something a lot heavier than that. I can hardly ever listen to Showdown and not get entirely choked up.
  • Kayla from Lufkin, TxThis song is so badass. It makes me want to go start a fight.
see more comments

Editor's Picks

Millie Jackson

Millie JacksonSongwriter Interviews

Outrageously gifted and just plain outrageous, Millie is an R&B and Rap innovator.

Country Song Titles

Country Song TitlesFact or Fiction

Country songs with titles so bizarre they can't possibly be real... or can they?

Janis Ian: Married in London, but not in New York

Janis Ian: Married in London, but not in New YorkSong Writing

Can you be married in one country but not another? Only if you're part of a gay couple. One of the first famous singers to come out as a lesbian, Janis wrote a song about it.

Barney Hoskyns Explores The Forgotten History Of Woodstock, New York

Barney Hoskyns Explores The Forgotten History Of Woodstock, New YorkSong Writing

Our chat with Barney Hoskyns, who covers the wild years of Woodstock - the town, not the festival - in his book Small Town Talk.

Lace the Music: How LSD Changed Popular Music

Lace the Music: How LSD Changed Popular MusicSong Writing

Starting in Virginia City, Nevada and rippling out to the Haight-Ashbury, LSD reshaped popular music.

Intentionally Atrocious

Intentionally AtrociousSong Writing

A selection of songs made to be terrible - some clearly achieved that goal.