Come On Eileen

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"Come On Eileen"
Single by Dexys Midnight Runners
from the album Too-Rye-Ay
  • "Dubious" (7" & 12")
  • "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)
3:28 (special DJ edit)
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 was their second number one hit in the UK, following 1980's "Geno". The song was written by Kevin Rowland, Jim Paterson and Billy Adams, and was produced by Clive Langer and Alan Winstanley.

"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.[4] It was ranked number 18 on VH1's 100 Greatest Songs of the '80s.[5]


There are various versions of the song, some in addition to the main section featuring either an intro of a Celtic fiddle solo, or an a cappella 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 phrase "Come on Eileen" is used as the chorus to the song, which was loosely inspired by the song "A Man Like Me" by the 1960s British soul group Jimmy James and the Vagabonds.[6][7]

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
Section Introduction Verses Chorus 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,[8] there was actually no real Eileen. "In fact she was composite, to make a point about Catholic repression."[9]

Music video[edit]

The 1982 music video was 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.[10]

Archival footage of Johnnie Ray arriving at London Heathrow Airport in 1954 was featured in the video.[11]

Chart success[edit]

In a poll by Channel 4, a UK TV channel, the song was placed at number 38 in the 100 greatest number one singles of all time.[12] Similar polls by the music channel VH1 placed the song at number three in the 100 Greatest One-hit Wonders of all time,[13] number 18 in VH1's 100 Greatest Songs of the 1980's[5] and number one in the 100 Greatest One Hit Wonders of the 80s[14] (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.[15]

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[edit]

In 1997, ska band Save Ferris released a cover of the song as a single from album It Means Everything.[43]

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.[44]

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.[45]

The song was used in the films Tommy Boy,[46] Take Me Home Tonight[47] and The Perks of Being a Wallflower.[48]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Mann, Brent (2003). 99 Red Balloons...and 100 Other All-Time Great One-Hit Wonders. Citadel Press. p. 46. ISBN 978-0-8065-2516-7. New Wave spawned some of pop music's classic one-hit wonders, artists who are vividly remembered today: Dexys Midnight Runners ("Come on Eileen"), Nena ("99 Luftballons"), and Thomas Dolby ("She Blinded Me with Science"), to name just a few.
  2. ^ a b c Huey, Steve. "Dexys Midnight Runners – Artist Biography". AllMusic. All Media Network. Retrieved 28 July 2013. "Come on Eileen," a distinctive fusion of '80s pop, Celtic folk, and blue-eyed soul.
  3. ^ "New Musical Express". NME. London, England. 19 June 1982. p. 34.
  4. ^ Westbrook, Caroline (25 July 2015). "The Nation's Favourite 80s Number One: 12 more classic 80s chart-toppers which didn't make the cut". Metro. Retrieved 27 July 2015.
  5. ^ a b "VH1's 100 Greatest Songs of the 80's". Archived from the original on 1 September 2015.. 26 October 2006.
  6. ^ Jimmy James - A Man Like Me. YouTube. 12 June 2009. Retrieved 26 January 2012.
  7. ^ "Audio". Archived from the original on 1 March 2009..
  8. ^ "Come On Eileen by Dexys Midnight Runners". Songfacts. Retrieved 3 August 2014.
  9. ^ Simpson, Dave (16 October 2014). "'We were always hard workers': Kevin Rowland and Big Jim Paterson on their favourite Dexys songs". The Guardian. Retrieved 9 July 2015.
  10. ^ "5 Things You Didn't Know: "Come On Eileen" By Dexys Midnight Runners". WCBS-FM. 29 March 2013. Retrieved 3 June 2017.
  11. ^ Mann 2003, p. 185.
  12. ^ "Channel 4 - 100 Greatest Number One Singles in the UK". Classic Whitney. Retrieved 21 July 2013.
  13. ^ "Lists :: Best :: VH1 - 100 Greatest One Hit Wonders". Dave Tompkins. Retrieved 11 July 2014.
  14. ^ Ali, Rahsheeda (2 May 2013). "100 Greatest One-Hit Wonders of the '80s". Archived from the original on 12 July 2015.. VH1.
  15. ^ a b Copsey, Rob (19 September 2017). "The UK's Official Chart 'millionaires' revealed". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 1 May 2018.
  16. ^ "Australia No. 1 hits -- 1980's". World Charts. Archived from the original on 9 January 2017. Retrieved 9 June 2013.
  17. ^ " – Dexys Midnight Runners & The Emerald Express – Come On Eileen" (in German). Ö3 Austria Top 40. Retrieved 28 July 2013.
  18. ^ " – Dexys Midnight Runners & The Emerald Express – Come On Eileen" (in Dutch). Ultratop 50. Retrieved 28 July 2013.
  19. ^ "Top RPM Singles: Issue 6194." RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved 1 June 2013.
  20. ^ "Le Détail par Artiste" (in French). InfoDisc. Select "Dexy's Midnight Runners" from the artist drop-down menu. Retrieved 14 May 2016.
  21. ^ " – Dexys Midnight Runners & The Emerald Express – Come On Eileen". GfK Entertainment Charts. Retrieved 28 July 2013.
  22. ^ "The Irish Charts – Search Results – Come On Eileen". Irish Singles Chart. Retrieved 28 July 2013.
  23. ^ "Nederlandse Top 40 – Dexys Midnight Runners & The Emerald Express - Come On Eileen" (in Dutch). Dutch Top 40. Retrieved 28 July 2013.
  24. ^ " – Dexys Midnight Runners & The Emerald Express – Come On Eileen" (in Dutch). Single Top 100. Retrieved 28 July 2013.
  25. ^ " – Dexys Midnight Runners & The Emerald Express – Come On Eileen". Top 40 Singles. Retrieved 28 July 2013.
  26. ^ "South African Rock Lists Website SA Charts 1969 – 1989 Acts (D)". Retrieved 28 July 2013.
  27. ^ Salaverri, Fernando (September 2005). Sólo éxitos: año a año, 1959–2002 (in Spanish) (1st ed.). Spain: Fundación Autor-SGAE. ISBN 84-8048-639-2.
  28. ^ " – Dexys Midnight Runners & The Emerald Express – Come On Eileen". Swiss Singles Chart. Retrieved 28 July 2013.
  29. ^ "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 28 July 2013.
  30. ^ a b c "Too-Rye-Ay – Awards". AllMusic. All Media Network. Retrieved 1 June 2013.
  31. ^ "CASH BOX Top 100 Singles – Week ending APRIL 23, 1983". Cash Box. Archived from the original on 13 September 2012.
  32. ^ "Forum – ARIA Charts: Special Occasion Charts – Top 100 End of Year AMR Charts – 1980s". Hung Medien. Retrieved 11 July 2014.
  33. ^ "Jaaroverzichten 1982" (in Dutch). Ultratop. Hung Medien. Retrieved 11 July 2014.
  34. ^ "The Top Singles of 1983". RPM. Vol. 39 no. 17. Library and Archives Canada. 24 December 1983. Retrieved 7 July 2019.
  35. ^ "Top 100-Jaaroverzicht van 1982" (in Dutch). Dutch Top 40. Retrieved 11 July 2014.
  36. ^ "Jaaroverzichten – Single 1982" (in Dutch). Single Top 100. Hung Medien. Retrieved 11 July 2014.
  37. ^ "End of Year Charts 1982". Recorded Music New Zealand. Retrieved 16 May 2016.
  38. ^ Lane, Dan (18 November 2012). "The biggest selling singles of every year revealed! (1952-2011)". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 11 July 2014.
  39. ^ "Top 100 Hits for 1983". The Longbored Surfer. Retrieved 11 July 2014.
  40. ^ "The CASH BOX Year-End Charts: 1983". Cash Box. Archived from the original on 25 December 2012.
  41. ^ "Canadian single certifications – Kevin Rowland & Dexys Midnight Runners – Come On Eileen". Music Canada.
  42. ^ "British single certifications – Dexys Midnight Runners – Come On Eileen". British Phonographic Industry. Select singles in the Format field. Select Platinum in the Certification field. Type Come On Eileen in the "Search BPI Awards" field and then press Enter.
  43. ^ Bush, John. "Save Ferris – Artist Biography". AllMusic. All Media Network. Retrieved 11 July 2014.
  44. ^ "Come on England – 2004". Archived from the original on 15 October 2013..
  45. ^ Fries, Colin, NASA History Division (15 July 2011). "Chronology of Wakeup Calls" (PDF). NASA. Retrieved 26 January 2012.
  46. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Original Soundtrack – Tommy Boy (Music from the Motion Picture)". AllMusic. Retrieved 28 July 2013.
  47. ^ Monger, James Christopher. "Original Soundtrack – Take Me Home Tonight". AllMusic. Retrieved 28 July 2013.
  48. ^ Berardinelli, James (19 September 2012). "Perks of Being a Wallflower, The". Retrieved 19 October 2016.
  49. ^ "Dexys Diary". Retrieved 28 July 2013.

External links[edit]