Come On Eileen – 1982

“Come On Eileen” is a song by English group Dexys Midnight Runners (credited to Dexys Midnight Runners and the Emerald Express), released in the UK on 25 June 1982 as a single from their album Too-Rye-Ay. It was their second number one hit in the United Kingdom, following 1980’s “Geno”. The song was written by Kevin Rowland, Jim Paterson and Billy Adams; it was produced by Clive Langer and Alan Winstanley.

“Come On Eileen” won Best British Single at the 1983 Brit Awards and in 2015 the song was voted by the British public as the nation’s sixth favourite 1980s number one in a poll for ITV.

There are various versions of the song, some in addition to the main section featuring either an intro of a Celtic fiddle solo, or an a cappella coda both based on Thomas Moore’s Irish folk song “Believe Me, if All Those Endearing Young Charms”.

The main section begins with a Celtic-style fiddle played over a drum beat, with the bass guitar and piano providing accompaniment.

The lyrics of the song begin with the lines:

Poor old Johnnie Ray
Sounded sad upon the radio
Moved a million hearts in mono
Our mothers cried, sang along
Who would blame them?

The phrase “Come on Eileen” is used as the chorus to the song, which was loosely inspired by the song “A Man Like Me” by the 1960s British soul group Jimmy James and the Vagabonds.

The bridge of “Come On Eileen” features an improvised counter-melody which begins in a slow tempo and gets faster and faster over an accelerando vocal backing. The chord sequence of the bridge is actually the same as the verses, but transposed up by a whole tone.

Throughout the song, there are numerous tempo changes and key changes

Although often believed to have been inspired by a childhood friend with whom Kevin Rowland had a romantic, and later sexual, relationship in his teens, there was actually no real Eileen; “In fact she was composite, to make a point about Catholic repression.”

Single and album versions

The 7″ vinyl single released worldwide (except the US) was a 3.28 edit of the main section of the song featuring neither the intro nor the coda. Dexys Midnight Runners’ CD compilations again omit the introduction and coda but use the unedited main section (4.06).
The worldwide 12″ and US 7″ singles featured the intro and the unedited main section (4.12). This version has only been released on CD on a Kevin Rowland CD single “Tonight”.

The album version features the unedited main section and the coda (4.32) An exception to this is the 2002 US only release of Too-Rye-Ay which uniquely features both introduction and coda (4.47).