Golden Brown – The Stranglers: Iconic Songs & the story behind them

The Stranglers

Golden Brown

January 1982

Golden Brown – The Stranglers: Iconic Songs & the story behind them

Golden Brown – The Stranglers

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 United Kingdom, on Liberty. It was the second single released from the band’s sixth album La folie.

Stranglers - La Folie album cover.jpg

See: La folie (album) Track Listing

It peaked at No. 2 in the UK Singles Chart, the band’s highest ever placing in that chart.

In January 2014, NME ranked the song as No. 488 on its list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.  It has also been recorded by many other artists.

See : 500 Greatest Songs of All Time NME

Single by The Stranglers
from the album La folie
B-side“Love 30”
Released28 December 1981 (US)10 January 1982 (UK)
Format7″ vinyl
Recorded1981
GenreNew wave[1]baroque pop[2]
Length3:30
LabelLibertyBP 407 (UK, 7″)
Songwriter(s)Hugh CornwellJean-Jacques BurnelDave GreenfieldJet Black
Producer(s)The StranglersSteve Churchyard
The Stranglers singles chronology
Let Me Introduce You to the Family” 
(1981)”Golden Brown” 
(1981)”La Folie” 
(1982)
The Stranglers singles chronoly
Always the Sun (Sunny Side Up Mix)”
(1991)”Golden Brown
(1991)”Heaven or Hell”
(1992)

My Thought ?

This is one of my favorite tunes of all time and I never tire of listening to it, especially after a skinfull of beer and/or a few wee Gin and Tonics , to get me in the mood so to speak. The hunting theme of the song and the hypnotic harpsichord always mesmerize me to the point I feel as though I’m in a trance and thats the kind of escapism I’m looking for when i want to chill out to some music and sooth my sometimes weary soul.

Lyrics

“Golden Brown”

Golden Brown texture like sun
Lays me down with my mind she runs
Throughout the night
No need to fight
Never a frown with Golden Brown

Every time just like the last
On her ship tied to the mast
To distant lands
Takes both my hands
Never a frown with Golden Brown

Golden Brown, finer temptress
Through the ages she’s heading west
From far away
Stays for a day
Never a frown with Golden Brown

(La la la la la la la la leeeah)

Never a frown
With Golden Brown
Never a frown
With Golden Brown

Overview

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.

Golden Brown The Strangles

It reached No. 2 in the official UK Singles Chart in February 1982, remaining there for two weeks behind double A-sided record “Town Called Malice/Precious” by the Jam.

The Jam – Town Called Malice (1982)
The Jam – The Gift – Precious

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.

How does the Rorschach inkblot test work? 

The single was a top 10 hit around the world, including Australia. It was also featured in the film Snatch and is included on its soundtrack album.[

Meaning

Hugh Cornwell
Hugh Cornwell

There has been much controversy surrounding the lyrics. In his book The Stranglers Song By Song (2001), 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.”

Musical composition

The main body of the song has a 6/8 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 in the head 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”,

Bill Turnbull attempted to waltz to the song in the 2005 series of Strictly Come Dancing.

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.

Music video

Two shots from Golden Brown: the band performing the song in Leighton House and as explorers

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”.

Golden Brown – The Stranglers (Restored Music Video)

In addition to the Pyramids, the video is intercut with stock footage of the Mir-i-Arab Madrasah in Bukhara, the Shah Mosque in Isfahan, and Great SphinxFeluccas sailing, Bedouins riding and camel racing in the United Arab Emirates. The performance scenes were filmed in the Leighton House Museum in Holland ParkLondon, which was also used in the filming of the video for “Gold” by Spandau Ballet.

Charts

Chart (1982)Peak
position
Australia (Kent Music Report)10
Belgium (Ultratop 50 Flanders)7
France (IFOP)73
Germany (Official German Charts)63
Ireland (IRMA)3
Netherlands (Dutch Top 40)8
Netherlands (Single Top 100)10
UK Singles (Official Charts Company)2
Chart (1991)1Peak
position
Ireland (IRMA)25
UK Singles (Official Charts Company)68

1Remix

Chart (2013)Peak
position
UK Singles (Official Charts Company)98

Main Source/More Info : Wikipedia/Golden Brown

The Stranglers Documentray Part 1

See: The Jam – Going Underground

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