Bright Eyes (Art Garfunkel song)

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"Bright Eyes"
Single by Art Garfunkel
from the album Fate for Breakfast and Watership Down
B-side "When Someone Doesn't Want You"
Released 1979
Format Gramophone record
Genre Soft rock
Label Columbia
Writer(s) Mike Batt
Art Garfunkel chronology
"In A Little While (I'll Be On My Way)"/ "And I Know" (1979) "Bright Eyes"/"When Someone Doesn't Want You" (1979) "Since I Don't Have You"/ "When Someone Doesn't Want You" (1979)

"Bright Eyes" is a song written by Mike Batt and performed by Art Garfunkel. It was used in the soundtrack of the 1978 British animated adventure drama film Watership Down and as such is considered the theme song of the film and the later television series also titled Watership Down. The track appears on UK and European versions of Garfunkel's 1979 Fate for Breakfast and on the US versions of his 1981 album Scissors Cut. It was the biggest selling single of 1979 in the UK.


Written by Mike Batt for Watership Down at the request of director Martin Rosen,[1] the song relates to the transition into death highlighted by the close shave of Hazel, a rabbit character in the film, when he is shot by a farmer, and then, years later, when Hazel (then Hazel-rah) finally departs his body and enters the world of spirit.

The song was immensely successful in the United Kingdom, staying at number one in the UK Singles Chart for six weeks in 1979,[2] selling over one million copies, becoming the biggest selling single of that year in the UK. It has sold 1.2 million copies.[3] In the United States, it failed to reach the Billboard Hot 100. It reached #27 on the Billboard Adult Contemporary chart.


Chart (1979) Peak
Australian Singles Chart 2
Austrian Singles Chart 3
Dutch Singles Chart 1
German Singles Chart 3
Irish Singles Chart 1
New Zealand Singles Chart 2
Norwegian Singles Chart 3
Swedish Singles Chart 3
Swiss Singles Chart 2
UK Singles Chart[2] 1


Other versions[edit]

The Shadows recorded an instrumental version in 1979 on the album String of Hits.

In 1979, Swedish singer Siv-Inger recorded the song with lyrics in Swedish by Margot Borgström, as Varför (Why), on the album Liv och kärlek (Life and Love).[4] and charted at Svensktoppen with the song for 10 weeks between 30 March-1 June 1980, peaking at fourth position.[5]

Welsh band Manic Street Preachers released a live version as a b-side on the cassette version of their A Design for Life single in 1996. [6]

In 1980, five-year-old child performer Matthew Butler performed a version of the song on the ITV children's series Tiswas dressed in a grey furry rabbit costume. Butler, his costume and his rendition of the song (which was released as a single by CBS Records) became a staple part of the programme for the rest of its duration.[7]

In 1998, Swedish singer Pandora released a version as a single, taken from her album This Could Be Heaven.[8]

The song was later covered by Stephen Gately in 2000 and used as the theme song of the Watership Down animated television series. It was released as a double A-side with his single "New Beginning". While Mike Batt, who wrote the original song, composed an entire new score. This new cover went on to earn the TV show a nomination for a Gemini Award, for best original score.[citation needed]

Hayley Westenra recorded a version for her 2001 self-titled studio album.

Singer and actor Joseph McManners recorded a version for his 2005 album In Dreams, with music provided by the Prague Philharmonic Orchestra.

The song appeared on Season 4, Episode 5 of The Basil Brush Show where Basil Brush sings the chorus to a metal background in the band "the Toxic Beatbox Orchestra".[9][10]

In 2012, Adam Young of Owl City covered the song and released it to his SoundCloud.[11] Young himself is a big fan of Watership Down.[12][13]

Art Garfunkel went to number 1 with this lovely tune to Watership Down in 1978/9 followed closely by the Nolans cover version, which is as lovely as the original. From there first album 1979 simply entitled Nolan Sisters.


  1. ^ Allen, Liam (2009-03-03). "Was it a kind of bad dream?". BBC News. 
  2. ^ a b Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. pp. 366–7. ISBN 1-904994-10-5. 
  3. ^ Sedghi, Ami (2012-11-04). "UK's million-selling singles: the full list". Guardian. 
  4. ^ "Liv och kärlek | Svensk mediedatabas". SMDB. Retrieved 2016-10-14. 
  5. ^ "SVENSKTOPPEN" (TXT). 1980-01-13. Retrieved 2016-10-14. 
  6. ^ "Manic Street Preachers - A Design For Life (Cassette Single) at Discogs". 2010. 
  7. ^ Lockley, Mike. "Staffordshire man reveals the seedy truth behind living life as the Tiswas Bunny". Birmingham Mail. Retrieved 2016-10-14. 
  8. ^ "Pandora - Bright Eyes (CD) at Discogs". 21 March 1998. 
  9. ^ "YouTube". YouTube. Retrieved 2016-10-14. 
  10. ^ "IMDB, The Basil Brush Show, Series 4 Episode 5, "Basil's Brush With Fame", 2005". 
  11. ^ "Bright Eyes (Adam Young cover)". SoundCloud. Retrieved September 25, 2014. 
  12. ^ "A Q&A with Owl City". Retrieved September 25, 2014. 
  13. ^ " 2011 interview with Owl City". Retrieved September 25, 2014. Probably the book that is super inspiring is a book called Watership Down by Richard Adams. It's from the late 70s, about talking rabbits, and it's a very grounded-in-reality book. It's not a kids' book, but it has to do with these talking rabbits and their adventure, and there's a lot of metaphors and crazy stuff. And that's always been a very inspiring thing. If ever I'm feeling dry, or going through writer's block or something, I just even leaf through some pages of that book and I'm like "Whoa, I have to go make music!" 

External links[edit]

Preceded by
"I Will Survive" by Gloria Gaynor
UK number one single
14 April 1979 - 19 May 1979
Succeeded by
"Sunday Girl" by Blondie