• Justin Key

Behind the Title - Mr. Blue Sky

Updated: 4 days ago

"Mr. Blue Sky" - by Electric Light Orchestra



The sky was, in fact, blue the day "Mr. Blue Sky" was photographed. Back in Crested Butte, Colorado for my annual leaf-peeping weekend, a pair of days spent hiking under the golden canopy of Gunnison National Forest put me in a carefree mood entering Sunday. As I stepped out of the car with my two favorite hiking companions, my wife and dog, the late morning sun and a gentle, cool breeze put the temperature in the sweet spot for one last hike.


The hike started with a leg-burning ascent but with no one around and nowhere to be, rest became an additional excuse to marvel at the white-barked aspens cooling us with their shade. Autumn had just begun to influence these trees at the lower altitude and their kelly green leaves mixed with the lush green seedlings on the forest floor provided a nice contrast for the knotted aspen trunks. The new trail wasted no time delivering beauty as every step brought us higher, literally and figuratively.


When the trail finally leveled off we were surrounded by gold. It was like entering Mother Nature's palace and spinning around I expected to see her standing to welcome us with an aura of sunlight breaking through the trees. Instead, we were left basking in the warm grove of aspens alone. As a soft breeze sent a shower of glittering aspen leaves down upon us, the foot-tapping beat of "Mr. Blue Sky" began.


"Sun is shinin' in the sky

There ain't a cloud in sight

It's stopped rainin' everybody's in the play

And don't you know

It's a beautiful new day, hey hey"


Have you ever noticed the moment you overflow with joy? If you could have started playing "Mr. Blue Sky" in the forest that day I would've spent the next four minutes dancing around that grove of aspens reminiscent of a cheesy 80's movie dance montage. We've all felt joy before but there's a moment when happiness reaches the brim where colors become more saturated, the world gets brighter, and your body feels like it's floating among the clouds. The intro for "Mr. Blue Sky" is the perfect musical representation for that moment. The upbeat tempo combined with the happy lyrics describing a simple sunny day is enough to lift your spirits as soon as the song starts.


"Runnin' down the avenue

See how the sun shines brightly in the city

On the streets where once was pity

Mr. Blue Sky is living here today, hey hey"


Birds were chirping in the trees whose leaves were reflecting their golden hue on every surface. The forest was cloaked in the bright, cheerful yellow of autumn aspens. Cascades of canary yellow leaves trickled through the branches in slow motion while their friends flickered in the sun. A carpet of freshly fallen leaves provided that delightful autumn scent to round out the perfect September moment. The entire scene was bursting with influence to break any poet's writer's block or inspire any painter's brush strokes.


After basking in the sheer bliss I'd stumbled upon, it was time to preserve the emotion of this aspen Narnia. Riding a wave of endorphins, my eye was like a pinball ricocheting from tree to tree looking for the composition that embodied the euphoria I'd found there. In the end, what is now known as "Mr. Blue Sky" was the perfect way to remember that feeling.


A tunnel of yellow helps fill the frame with the happy color, showing the density and magnitude of the forest. Focusing on the central aspen tree pulls the viewer into the depth of field to encompass them in shimmering golden highlights. If this photo composed in joy doesn't brighten your day a little bit, turn on the ELO hit and try not to start marching around the room with a smile.

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© Justin Key Photography