Lilac Wine

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"Lilac Wine"
Single by Elkie Brooks
from the album Pearls
Released January 1978
Recorded 1978
Genre Alternative rock
Length 3:54
Label A&M
Writer(s) James Shelton
Producer(s) Mike Batt
"Lilac Wine"
Song by Jeff Buckley from the album Grace
Released 1994
Format CD, LP
Recorded Bearsville Recording Studio, Woodstock, NY (Fall 1993)
Genre Rock
Length 4:32
Label Columbia
Producer(s) Jeff Buckley
Andy Wallace
Grace track listing
"Last Goodbye"
"Lilac Wine"
"So Real"

"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 covered by many famous artists including Eartha Kitt, Nina Simone, Elkie Brooks, Katie Melua, Jeff Buckley, Jeff Beck, Fanny Ardant, John Legend, Miley Cyrus, Emily Keener, and The Cinematic Orchestra.


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

Cover versions[edit]

"Lilac Wine" has been covered 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) It also appears on her 1981 album Pearls, Pearls album stayed in the U.K. charts for 79 weeks and Jeff Buckley on his album Grace (1994). The Jeff Buckley version was used as background music in the 2008 French film Tell No One. It also appears on Katie Melua's debut studio album Call Off the Search. Barb Jungr recorded a memorable version for her 2008 tribute album to Nina Simone, Just Like a Woman. Jeff Beck played a stunning 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]

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.[3] It was later included on her 1981 album Pearls.