Come On Eileen

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"Come On Eileen"
Single by Dexy's Midnight Runners and the Emerald Express
from the album Too-Rye-Ay
  • "Dubious" (7" in most countries & 12")
  • "Let's Make This Precious" (7" in US only)
  • "Liars A to E (New Version)" (on 12" only)
Released25 June 1982
Length4:12 (single version)
4:32 (album version)
4:07 (US album version)
3:48 (video version)
3:28 (special DJ edit)
Label Mercury
Dexys Midnight Runners singles chronology
"The Celtic Soul Brothers"
"Come On Eileen"
"Jackie Wilson Said (I'm in Heaven When You Smile)"

"Come On Eileen" is a song by English group Dexys Midnight Runners (credited to Dexys Midnight Runners and the Emerald Express), released in the United Kingdom on 25 June 1982 [3] as a single from their album Too-Rye-Ay . It reached number one in the United States, and it was their second number one hit in the UK, following 1980's "Geno". The song was initially claimed to be written by Kevin Rowland, Jim Paterson and Billy Adams, and it was produced by Clive Langer and Alan Winstanley, although Rowland later stated that the essence of the tune should be attributed to Kevin Archer. [4]


"Come On Eileen" won Best British Single at the 1983 Brit Awards and in 2015, the song was voted by the British public as the nation's sixth favourite 1980s number one in a poll for ITV. [5] It was ranked number eighteen on VH1's 100 Greatest Songs of the '80s. [6]


There are various versions of the song; some, in addition to the main section, feature either a Celtic fiddle-solo intro or an a capella coda both based on Thomas Moore's Irish folk song "Believe Me, if All Those Endearing Young Charms".

The main section begins with a Celtic-style fiddle played over a drum beat, with the bass guitar and piano providing accompaniment.

The lyrics of the song begin with the lines:

  • Poor old Johnnie Ray
  • Sounded sad upon the radio
  • Moved a million hearts in mono
  • Our mothers cried, sang along
  • Who would blame them?

The bridge of "Come On Eileen" features an improvised counter-melody which begins in a slow tempo and gets faster and faster over an accelerando vocal backing. The chord sequence of the bridge is actually the same as the verses, but transposed up by a whole tone.

Throughout the song, there are numerous tempo changes and key changes:

Key changes throughout the song
SectionIntroductionVersesChorus and bridge
Key F major C major D major

Although often believed to have been inspired by a childhood friend with whom Kevin Rowland had a romantic, and later sexual, relationship in his teens, [7] there was actually no real Eileen. "In fact she was composite, to make a point about Catholic repression." [8]

Music video

The 1982 music video was directed by Julien Temple and filmed in the inner south London suburb of Kennington in the vicinity of the corner of Brook Drive and Hayles Street, then Austral Street and Holyoak Road. The character of "Eileen" in the music video, as well as on the single cover, is played by Máire Fahey, sister of Siobhan Fahey from Bananarama. [9]

Archival footage of Johnnie Ray arriving at London Heathrow Airport in 1954 was featured in the video. [10]

Chart success

In a poll by Channel 4, a UK TV channel, the song was placed at number thirty-eight in the 100 greatest number one singles of all time. [11] Similar polls by the music channel VH1 placed the song at number three in the 100 Greatest One-hit Wonders of all time, [12] number 18 in VH1's 100 Greatest Songs of the 1980's [6] and number one in the 100 Greatest One Hit Wonders of the 80s [13] (the group had a previous number one single in the UK—"Geno" in 1980—but "Come On Eileen" was their only US hit). "Come on Eileen" has sold 1.33 million copies in the UK as of June 2013. [14]

The song reached number one in the United States on the Billboard Hot 100 charts during the week ending 23 April 1983. "Come on Eileen" prevented Michael Jackson from having back-to-back number one hits in the US: "Billie Jean" was the number one single the previous seven weeks, while "Beat It" was the number one song the ensuing three.

Other uses

In 1997, ska band Save Ferris released a cover of the song as a single from album It Means Everything . [42]

In 2004, the band 4-4-2 was formed to cover the song as "Come On England" with altered lyrics to support the England national football team during their appearance in the 2004 European Championships. [43]

On 7 August 2005, the song was used to wake the astronauts of Space Shuttle Discovery on the final day of STS-114 in reference to commander Eileen Collins. [44]

The song was featured in the films Tommy Boy (1995), [45] Take Me Home Tonight (2011), [46] and The Perks of Being a Wallflower (2012). [47]

In 2020, Sara Evans released a cover of the song as a single from her album Copy That . [48]


See also

Related Research Articles

A one-hit wonder is any entity that achieves mainstream popularity, often for only one piece of work, and becomes known among the general public solely for that momentary success. The term is most commonly used in regard to music performers with only one hit single that overshadows their other work. Sometimes, artists dubbed "one-hit wonders" in a particular country have had great success in other countries. Music artists with subsequent popular albums and hit listings are typically not considered a one-hit wonder. One-hit wonders usually see their popularity decreasing after their hit listing and most often don't return to hit listings with other songs or albums.

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Kevin Rowland is an English singer-songwriter of Irish descent and frontman for the pop band Dexys Midnight Runners, which had several hits in the early 1980s, the most notable being "Geno" and "Come On Eileen", both of which reached number one on the UK Singles Chart.

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