Elisabeth's Eyes

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"Elisabeth's Eyes"
Nik Kershaw Elisabeth's Eyes UK Single Cover.jpeg
Single by Nik Kershaw
from the album The Works
Released 1989
Format 7" single, 12" single, CD single
Length 4:37
Label MCA
Songwriter(s) Nik Kershaw
Producer(s) Nik Kershaw, Julian Mendelsohn
Nik Kershaw singles chronology
"One Step Ahead"
(1989)
"Elisabeth's Eyes"
(1989)
"Wouldn't It Be Good" (re-issue)"
(1991)

"One Step Ahead"
(1989)
"Elisabeth's Eyes"
(1989)
"Wouldn't It Be Good" (re-issue)"
(1991)

"Elisabeth's Eyes" is the second single of 1989 from English musician Nik Kershaw. The single was the second and final single from Kershaw's fourth album The Works.

Background[edit]

Since 1986, Kershaw's commercial success was declining with his singles charting lower and lower from the top 20 chart within the UK. The album's leading single "One Step Ahead" managed to peak at #55 in the UK, however "Elisabeth's Eyes" failed to chart in the top 100 altogether. This was Kershaw's first single to fail the chart since his debut release in 1983. After the release of the single, Kershaw decided to end his solo career, concentrating on writing and producing for other artists instead, until 1998 when Kershaw released the album 15 Minutes.[1]

"Elisabeth's Eyes" was written by Kershaw who would write most of his material solely.[2] The song was produced by Julian Mendelsohn and Kershaw. Mendelsohn is a British producer who has worked with numerous artists such as Pet Shop Boys, Elton John, Jimmy Page, Bob Marley and Paul McCartney.[3] Although the album was produced by Peter Wolf and co-produced by Brian Malouf, both singles, including "Elisabeth's Eyes", were written shortly after Kershaw became unhappy with Wolf's production and his direction for the album. Both singles from the album were produced by Kershaw and Julian Mendelsohn, whilst the two also re-worked the production of the entire album, earning them an additional production credit.[4]

Writing[edit]

The song's lyrics refer to American convict Willie Darden and his intimate relationship via letters with Elisabeth Allen from Stanford, England. Darden was convicted for a murder that occurred during the robbery of a furniture store. Allen and others in America were convinced of Darden's innocence and consistently battled for a reprieve. In early 1988, after spending years on death row, the State of Florida executed Darden in the electric chair. The state and federal governments failed to ensure Darden's right to a free and fair trial, whilst the unfair and racially discriminatory trial resulted in his execution. When Kershaw read about Allen's long-range romance he was so touched by the sentiment, he wrote the single, trying to imagine what Darden would have written in his last letter.[5]

In a broadcast Nik Kershaw interview based in the city of Berlin, Kershaw spoke of the single "Elisabeth's Eyes", which was only just released around the time of the interview. "The single is a song written from the point of view a guy called Willie Darden, who was America's longest serving death row prisoner. He was on death row for fifteen years and during the last twelve years of his life he corresponded with a lady in Essex called Elisabeth Allen who's a school teacher. The two never met and they sort of developed a relationship over the years, which is very strange 'cause they never actually existed, a lot of it existed in the mind of Darden. I was trying to imagine how he felt - I've read some of the letters which are absolutely unbelievable - they're poetry, they're love letters, they're incredible things."[citation needed]

In the song, from the view of Darden, the first verse highlights his sentence and innocence, the second verse speaks of the determination of Elisabeth Allen and her fight with other activists to free Darden, whilst the third verse highlights his execution. The chorus states "My hope lies in Elisabeth's eyes, love I will never have known." The song's final line of the third verse reads "Tuesday at seven I will find my heaven, and I'll see you there", which is accurate to the time and death of Darden in reality, on Tuesday, 15 March 1988 at 7am.[6]

Release[edit]

The single was released in the UK and Germany only, although a Spanish promotional 7" vinyl was also issued, using the a-side on both sides of the vinyl, whilst featuring plain artwork (with a strip of green) and the artist/song title.[7][8]

The b-side for the single "My Friend John" was exclusive to the single, written and produced solely by Kershaw. It has not been found anywhere else since.[9]

Two remixes of "Elisabeth's Eyes" were issued on the 12" vinyl version of the single, titled "Elisabeth's Eyes (Extended Version)" and "Elisabeth's Eyes (Club Dub)", where both remixes were created by Michael H. Brauer.[10] The UK card-cover maxi-single CD did not feature the "Club Dub" remix but did feature "Elisabeth's Eyes (Extended Version)".[11]

Subsequent to its original release on The Works album, "Elisabeth's Eyes" has also appeared on Kershaw's 2005 compilation Then & Now.[12] On the DVD disc of the same compilation, the video of "Elisabeth's Eyes" is the final video on the set.[13]

Promotion[edit]

A promotional video was created for the single. The majority of the video features Kershaw standing in front of a large plain wall, possibly indicating an imprisoned area, relating to the song's lyrics. Since an unofficial upload on YouTube in October 2007, the video has gained approximately 34,000 views.[14]

On 22 May 1989, the song was also performed on the British TV show "Wogan", hosted by Terry Wogan's stand-in host Sue Lawley.[15]

The song was performed live during Kershaw's 'The Works' Tour, where he was playing as the support act on Elton John's European Leg of his World Tour of 1989. On YouTube, an unofficial video was uploaded featuring an audience recording of the song being performed live in the Grugahalle, Essen in Germany on 12 April 1989.[16]

Formats[edit]

7" Single
  1. "Elisabeth's Eyes" - 4:37
  2. "My Friend John" - 4:08
7" Single (Spanish promo)
  1. "Elisabeth's Eyes" - 4:37
  2. "Elisabeth's Eyes" - 4:37
12" Single
  1. "Elisabeth's Eyes (Extended Version)" - 6:02
  2. "My Friend John" - 4:08
  3. "Elisabeth's Eyes" - 4:41
12" Single (German promo)
  1. "Elisabeth's Eyes (Extended Version)" - 6:01
  2. "My Friend John" - 4:07
  3. "Elisabeth's Eyes" - 4:40
CD Single
  1. "Elisabeth's Eyes (7" Version)" - 4:39
  2. "My Friend John" - 4:01
  3. "Elisabeth's Eyes (Extended Version)" - 6:04

Personnel[edit]

  • Producers on "Elisabeth's Eyes" - Julian Mendelsohn, Nik Kershaw
  • Mixers on "Elisabeth's Eyes" - Julian Mendelsohn, Nik Kershaw
  • Writer of "Elisabeth's Eyes" - Nik Kershaw
  • Remixer on "Elisabeth's Eyes (Extended Version)" - Michael H. Brauer
  • Co-producer on "Elisabeth's Eyes (Extended Version)" - Julian Mendelsohn
  • Remixer on "Elisabeth's Eyes (Club Dub)" - Michael H. Brauer
  • Co-producer on "Elisabeth's Eyes (Club Dub)" - Julian Mendelsohn
  • Producer on "My Friend John" - Nik Kershaw
  • Writer of "My Friend John" - Nik Kershaw

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Nik Kershaw - 15 Minutes at Discogs". Discogs.com. Retrieved 2012-09-10. 
  2. ^ "Images for Nik Kershaw - One Step Ahead". Discogs.com. Retrieved 2012-09-10. 
  3. ^ "Julian Mendelsohn Discography at Discogs". Discogs.com. Retrieved 2012-09-10. 
  4. ^ "Images for Nik Kershaw - The Works". Discogs.com. Retrieved 2012-09-10. 
  5. ^ "Florida Death Row Still Fullest, Even After Darden Execution". Deseret News. 1988-03-20. Retrieved 2012-09-10. 
  6. ^ https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1356&dat=19850904&id=rgYkAAAAIBAJ&sjid=YgYEAAAAIBAJ&pg=6427,2248601
  7. ^ "NIK KERSHAW SPANISH PROMO 7" Single ELISABETH'S EYES DiscNEW". eBay. Retrieved 2012-09-10. 
  8. ^ "Nik Kershaw Elizabeth's Eyes Spain Promo 7" RECORD (29590)". Eil.com. 1994-06-21. Retrieved 2012-09-10. 
  9. ^ "Images for Nik Kershaw - Elisabeth's Eyes". Discogs.com. Retrieved 2012-09-10. 
  10. ^ "Nik Kershaw - Elisabeth's Eyes (Vinyl) at Discogs". Discogs.com. Retrieved 2012-09-10. 
  11. ^ "Nik Kershaw - Elisabeth's Eyes (CD) at Discogs". Discogs.com. Retrieved 2012-09-10. 
  12. ^ "Nik Kershaw - Then & Now (CD) at Discogs". Discogs.com. Retrieved 2012-09-10. 
  13. ^ "Nik Kershaw - Then & Now (DVD) at Discogs". Discogs.com. Retrieved 2012-09-10. 
  14. ^ "Nik Kershaw - Elizabeth's Eyes [PV". YouTube. Retrieved 2012-09-10. 
  15. ^ "WOGAN - NIK KERSHAW Elisabeth's Eyes 1989". YouTube. Retrieved 2012-09-10. 
  16. ^ Video on YouTube