Toto, “Goodbye Elenore” from Turn Back (1981): Toto Tuesdays

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Side 1 of Toto’s Turn Back ended with one of the most conventional yet stellar Toto ballads, “A Million Miles Away.” Toto matches that excellence with the Side 2 opener, “Goodbye Elenore.”

The track, which served as the first single from Turn Back, is also written by David Paich with a majority of the lead vocals covered by Bobby Kimball. Kimball is part of the reason the song is such a strong rocker, as his use of a higher register is passionate and emotive. Steve Lukather provides a quick sentence of the chorus – “And he thought that she was coming back, but she wrote him a letter” – before joining Kimball in harmony on the bridge: “Seems as though you got your way before.” The vocal fireworks are enhanced by the composer’s David Paich joining in for three part harmony and the chorus.

“Goodbye Elenore” has the most complex vocal and instrumental arrangements on Toto’s Turn Back.The music easily matches Paich’s words as each member of the band makes a notable contribution. The songs kicks off with drummer Jeff Porcaro’s snare building in intensity until Steve Lukather breaks the tension with his tremolo driven power chords.

Seconds later, bassist David Hungate joins the fray anchoring a shuffle which propels Kimball’s vocals. Paich adds his emphatic piano playing while Steve Porcaro’s piccolo-sounding synthesizers comes in on the Lukather-sung chorus. Both Jeff Porcaro David Hungate add licks to keep their shuffle inventive while splashes of organ, synths tambourine are sprinkled in the mix.

The mid-song break down features an intricate organ, piano and guitar flourish fitting the progressive rock band Yes, then Lukather provides a fleet-fingered, live-sounding guitar solo. Toto uses a recapitulation of the chorus, only ratcheting the intensity of the verse. The last several seconds of “Goodbye Elenore” adds even more intensity as Steve Porcaro’s synthesizer leads fight for control with Steve Lukather’s guitar and Jeff Porcaro’s crashing drum fills.

“Goodbye Elenore” reaches an intensity not seen again on Turn Back.


Toto Tuesdays is a song-by-song feature that explores the rich musical history of Toto. The group returned in 2015 with ‘Toto XIV,’ their first album since 2006.

Preston Frazier

Preston Frazier

Preston Frazier is a bass-playing lawyer living in Atlanta. His first Steely Dan exposure was with an eight-track cassette of 'Pretzel Logic.' He can be reached at slangofages@icloud.com; follow him on Twitter: @slangofages. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.
Preston Frazier
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