Chart Performance: Pop (#1) and Mainstream Rock (#6); 1983
Story Behind The Song By Ed Osborne
In 1980 Dexys Midnight Runners raced into the UK Top 10 with Dance Stance and Geno. A mere two years later the band was falling apart; trying to pull things together enough to record an album and maybe get a hit. Lead singer/songwriter Kevin Rowland had met a gorgeous girl in Sweden who inspired him musically. Calling her “Eileen,” after a misunderstood line in Labeled With Love by Squeeze, Kevin drew the rest of the lyrics from ideas he scribbled on pieces of paper. “Beaten down eyes and sunken smoke-dried faces” came from his time in the factory area of Birmingham. He included the “Johnny Ray” reference (a singing star of the 1950’s) simply because the words worked. “Too roo loo ay a” came out while recording the demo. And the jumpy rhythm was nicked from Concrete And Clay, a 1965 UK #1 by Unit Four Plus Two. The pieces all added up to a 1982 summertime Brit hit and an ’83 spring smash.
This content and all Song Meaning articles were created and written by Top 40 Contributing Editor Ed Osborne. © 2023 Ed Osborne. All Rights Reserved. In addition to these song meaning articles, Ed has written our “Year in Music 1960s-1990s” articles.
- Clive Langer
- Alan Winstanley
Lyrics Written by:
- Kevin Rowland
- Jim Paterson
- Billy Adams