Top Ten 80s Songs #7: Kayleigh – Marillion

Misplaced Childhood

I’m a child of the eighties and proud of it. Musically, it was a funny old decade with some serious songs but also many bizarre ones as well. I think of the eighties as a colourful, fun decade of dominant cheesy pop but with some timeless masterpieces not far behind the chart toppers. Over the next ten days I will attempt to disclose what are for me the ten greatest songs of the eighties. It’s always hard to compile a list of this nature and my opinion is likely to change in the near future, but for now here are my golden ten.

I am indebted to and to all those that have contributed to some very interesting discussions about all the songs featured here. It’s important that everyone finds their own meaning in any song but some of the opinions I heard were certainly eye openers for me. I intend to share my own thoughts on these songs and how, after all these years, they still have a profound impact on my life.

Marillion: Kayleigh (1985)

Misplaced ChildhoodReleased in the UK in May 1985 “Kayleigh” became Marillion’s biggest hit, reaching no.2 in the UK charts and is said to have contributed to the increased popularity of the name for girls. It is a song of regret and nostalgia for a relationship that was filled with wonderful moments but is now over. Lead singer, Fish, has revealed the song was inspired by a series of broken relationships he left behind in pursuit of his career. “Kayleigh” sounds, in places, as if there has been fault on both sides with Fish singing about breaking Kayleigh’s heart but, in turn, she has broken his. The song veers from sensual memories to the pain of the present where Fish’s vocals become louder and more urgent. Whatever the reasons for the break-up, Fish takes on the role of a man who has come to the conclusion that the fault rests entirely with him.

The music video to “Kayleigh” shifts between footage of Marillion performing the song to Fish wandering the street, reflecting on the past. Images of a boy, presumably Fish, singing in unison with his adult self suggests this is a love story that happened many years before but is still felt in the present. We see Kayleigh, now grown up, on the opposite side of a fence to Fish, perhaps emphasising the continued void between them. A connection is made between them by their respective children. Fish’s son is given a flower which he delivers to Kayleigh’s daughter and she in turn passes it onto her mother. The video adds to the tragedy of this song and emphasises the magnitude of the regret that Fish clearly felt about the past when he wrote it.

“Kayleigh” is one of the songs from the eighties that I don’t recall hearing as I grew up. Instead I happened upon it on a compilation album and was immediately hooked. The descriptions of the past, “dancing in stilettos in the snow,” “chalk hearts melting on a playground wall,” and “barefoot on the lawn with shooting stars” are just some of the vivid images that are hard to forget. Few, if any, of us get through life without some regret about something we did or a choice we made in the past. The only hope is we can avoid the kind of regret that encompasses “Kayleigh.”

Top Ten so far:

7) Marillion: Kayleigh (1985)

8) U2: Pride (In The Name Of Love) (1984)

9) Guns ‘N’ Roses: Sweet Child O’ Mine (1988)

10) Depeche Mode: Just Can’t Get Enough (1981)

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Dave Brown

I was born in Barnsley, South Yorkshire, England and have always been a bookworm and enjoyed creative writing at school. In 1999 I created the Elencheran Chronicles and have been writing ever since. My first novel, Fezariu's Epiphany, was published in May 2011. When not writing I'm a lover of films, games, books and blogging. I live in Barnsley, with my wife, Donna, and our six cats - Kain, Razz, Buggles, Charlie, Bilbo and Frodo.
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