Lilac Wine

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"Lilac Wine"
Single by Elkie Brooks
from the album Pearls
ReleasedJanuary 1978
GenreAdult contemporary
Songwriter(s)James Shelton
Producer(s)Mike Batt
"Lilac Wine"
Song by Jeff Buckley
from the album Grace
FormatCD, LP
RecordedBearsville Recording Studio, Woodstock, NY (Fall 1993)
Songwriter(s)James Shelton

"Lilac Wine" is a song written by James Shelton (lyrics and music) in 1950. It was introduced by Hope Foye in the short-lived theater musical revue, Dance Me a Song. The song has since been recorded by many artists including Eartha Kitt, Nina Simone, Elkie Brooks, Katie Melua, Jeff Buckley, Clare Maguire, Jeff Beck, Fanny Ardant, John Legend, Miley Cyrus, Emily Keener, The Cinematic Orchestra, Lady Rizo, and Ana Moura.


The lyrics form a narrative of heartache at losing a lover and taking solace from wine made from a lilac tree. The song focuses on the blissful oblivion achieved by becoming intoxicated. Its inspiration was a line in the 1925 novel Sorrow in Sunlight (published in America as Prancing Nigger) by Ronald Firbank, in which the main character, Miami Mouth, circulates through a party "offering a light, lilac wine, sweet and heady".

Cover versions[edit]

"Lilac Wine" has been recorded by a number of artists including Eartha Kitt (1953), Judy Henske on her debut, self-titled album (1963), Nina Simone on her album Wild Is the Wind (1966), Elkie Brooks (1978) and Jeff Buckley on his album Grace (1994). The Jeff Buckley version was used as background music in the 2006 French film Tell No One. It also appears on Katie Melua's debut studio album Call Off the Search (2003). Barb Jungr recorded a version for her 2008 tribute album to Nina Simone, Just Like a Woman. Jeff Beck played a solo in the version included on Emotion & Commotion (2010) with vocals by Imelda May.[1] It was released as a single in 2010 by American singer Jordyn Jackson.[2] Miley Cyrus released it as a video in 2012, as part of her YouTube series, Backyard Sessions[3]

The only artist to have major chart success with the song was Elkie Brooks in 1978 and the song remains closely associated with her, especially in the UK and Europe.[4] It was later included on her 1981 album Pearls.


  1. ^ KssinRock (13 December 2013). "Lilac Wine - Jeff Beck feat Imelda May" – via YouTube.
  2. ^ "Jordyn Jackson".
  3. ^ "Miley Cyrus 'Lilac Wine': Singer Releases Cover Of James Shelton's 1950s Classic". Huffington Post. September 10, 2012. Retrieved 21 June 2017.
  4. ^ "The Official Charts Company - "Lilac Wine" - Elkie Brooks".