|Single by The Stranglers|
|from the album La folie|
|The Stranglers singles chronology|
"Golden Brown" is a song by the English rock band the Stranglers. It was released as a 7" single in December 1981 in the United States and in January 1982 in the UK, on Liberty. It was the second single released from the band's sixth album La Folie. It peaked at No. 2 in the UK Singles Chart, the band's highest ever placing in that chart. NME placed Golden Brown on it's list of the 500 Greatest Songs Of All Time in 2013.
Originally featured on the group's album La folie, which was released in November 1981, and later on the USA pressings of Feline, "Golden Brown" was released as a single in December 1981, and was accompanied by a video. It reached No. 2 in the official UK Singles Chart in February 1982, behind double A-sided record "Town Called Malice/Precious" by the Jam. The comparatively conservative BBC Radio 2, at that time a middle-of-the-road (MOR) music radio station, decided to make the record the single of the week, a surprising step considering the band were almost as notorious as Sex Pistols only a few years before. The band claimed that the song's lyrics were akin to an aural Rorschach test and that people only heard in it what they wanted to hear, although this did not prevent persistent allegations that the lyrics alluded to heroin (although in an interview with Channel 4, drummer Jet Black quipped it was a song about Marmite).
There has been much controversy surrounding the lyrics. In his 2001 book The Stranglers Song By Song, Hugh Cornwell states "'Golden Brown' works on two levels. It's about heroin and also about a girl." Essentially the lyrics describe how "both provided me with pleasurable times."
The main body of the song has a 3/4 feel and is pitched halfway between the keys of E minor and E-flat minor, possibly to accommodate the tuning of the harpsichord. The instrumental introduction, in (a very flat) B minor, is unconventional. The keyboard and harpsichord vamp in 3/4, and every fourth bar is in 4/4. The music was largely written by keyboardist Dave Greenfield and drummer Jet Black, with lyrics by singer/guitarist Hugh Cornwell.
The BBC newsreader Bill Turnbull attempted to waltz to the song in the 2005 series of Strictly Come Dancing. In February 2012, when interviewing Stranglers bassist Jean-Jacques Burnel on BBC Breakfast, Turnbull described the attempted dance as "a disaster", Burnel responded that the alternating time signatures made "Golden Brown" impossible to dance to; in contrast, a song written entirely in 6/8 is not unusual in waltzing.
The video for "Golden Brown", directed by Lindsey Clennell, depicts the band members both as explorers in an Arabian country and non-Arab Muslim Countries (sequences include images of the Pyramids as well as the explorers studying a map of Egypt) in the 1920s and performers for a fictional "Radio Cairo". In addition to the Pyramids, the video is intercut with stock footage of a Mir-i-Arab Madrasah in Bukhara, the Shah Mosque in Isfahan, and Great Sphinx, Feluccas sailing, Bedouins riding and camel racing in the United Arab Emirates. The performance scenes were filmed in the Leighton House Museum in Holland Park, London.
|Australia (Kent Music Report)||10|
|Belgium (Ultratop 50 Flanders)||7|
|Germany (Official German Charts)||63|
|Netherlands (Dutch Top 40)||8|
|Netherlands (Single Top 100)||10|
|UK Singles (Official Charts Company)||2|
|UK Singles (Official Charts Company)||68|
"Number Two" poll
In a BBC Radio 2 listener poll of the nation's favourite singles to have peaked at number two, conducted in late 2012, "Golden Brown" ranked fifth behind "Vienna", "Fairytale of New York", "Sit Down" and "American Pie", and just ahead of "Waterloo Sunset" and "Penny Lane"/"Strawberry Fields Forever".
- In 1996, Spookey Ruben released a cover of the song on his live album Wendy McDonald – Live in Japan.
- In 1996, British hip hop group Kaleef had a UK Top 40 hit with their re-working of this song.
- In 1997, soul singer Omar revived the song and took it back into the UK Top 40.
- In 1997, Emer Kenny included the song in her self-titled album.
- In 2006, English jazz singer-songwriter Symeon Cosburn covered the song on his album Breakfast With The Blues.
- In 2007, British singer Jamelia sampled the song with her single "No More".
- Also in 2007, fictional character Janey York (played by Crissy Rock) sang this song in the first series of Benidorm.
- In 2008, the British band Cult with No Name recorded a piano-based cover of the song on their album Careful What You Wish For.
- In 2009, Frankmusik sampled "Golden Brown" in his song "When You're Around".
- In 2010, the song was one of the 'contemporary classics' featured by the Jamaican band The Jolly Boys on their Great Expectation album.
- Also in 2010, the song was covered by the scrumpy and Western band The Wurzels on their album A Load More Bollocks.
- Also in 2010, a guitar version of "Golden Brown" was done by Fiach Moriarty.
- In 2013, a version of "Golden Brown" by the French cover band Nouvelle Vague was posted on YouTube.
- A Mexican version of the song was made by Mariachi Mexteca featuring ex-Stranglers vocalist Hugh Cornwell.
Songs, lyrics and music by The Stranglers.
- 7" (BP 407)
- "Golden Brown" – 3:28
- "Love 30" – 3:57
- Potts, Diana. "Original Soundtrack – Snatch". AllMusic. All Media Network. Retrieved 24 June 2013.
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- Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 535. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
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- Cornwell, Hugh; Drury, Jim (2001). The Stranglers Song By Song. Sanctuary Publishing Ltd. ISBN 1-86074-362-5.
- "Golden Brown – Song Review". AllMusic. All Media Network. Retrieved 9 July 2014.
- "Forum – ARIA Charts: Special Occasion Charts – CHART POSITIONS PRE 1989". Australian-charts.com. Hung Medien. Retrieved 9 July 2014.
- "Ultratop.be – The Stranglers – Golden Brown" (in Dutch). Ultratop 50. Retrieved 9 July 2014.
- "Le Détail par Artiste" (in French). InfoDisc. Select "Stranglers" from the artist drop-down menu. Retrieved 17 May 2016.
- "Offiziellecharts.de – The Stranglers – Golden Brown". GfK Entertainment Charts. Retrieved 9 July 2014.
- "The Irish Charts – Search Results – Golden Brown". Irish Singles Chart. Retrieved 1 July 2014.
- "Nederlandse Top 40 – The Stranglers - Golden Brown search results" (in Dutch) Dutch Top 40. Retrieved 9 July 2014.
- "Dutchcharts.nl – The Stranglers – Golden Brown" (in Dutch). Single Top 100. Retrieved 9 July 2014.
- "Stranglers: Artist Chart History" Official Charts Company. Retrieved 9 July 2014.
- "Ultravox's Vienna tops 'number two' poll". BBC Online. 1 January 2013. Retrieved 1 January 2013.
- "Kaleef". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 9 July 2014.
- "Omar". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 9 July 2014.
- Huey, Steve. "Emer Kenny – Emer Kenny". AllMusic. All Media Network. Retrieved 9 July 2014.
- "Symeon Cosburn And Lea DeLaria Bring Swing To Brighton". All About Jazz. 12 February 2006. Retrieved 4 November 2014.