Sunday, April 7, 1985

Marillion released “Kayleigh” all-time favorite song

First posted 11/18/2019.



Writer(s): Fish, Mark Kelly, Ian Mosley, Steve Rothery, Pete Trewavas (see lyrics here)

Released: April 7, 1985

Peak: 74 US, 12 AR, 2 UK (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales *: -- US, -- UK, -- world (includes US + UK)

Radio Airplay *: --

Video Airplay *: 14.3

Streaming *: --

* in millions


Most posts on Dave’s Music Database are presented without personal commentary. This one is an exception. 1985 likely marked the most significant year of my life in terms of growth and discovery. I graduated from high school and headed to college. My sheltered upbringing was challenged as I learned to co-exist with people with vastly different backgrounds and lifestyles. I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

Similarly, my musical tastes would undergo a significant awakening. For my first 18 years I gravitated largely toward pop music. In grade school and middle school, I bought eight tracks of adult contemporary staples like Air Supply, John Denver, Neil Diamond, and Barry Manilow. By high school, my tastes leaned a bit more toward rock with Foreigner, Journey, REO Speedwagon, and Styx. However, in college I started listening to the heavier rock I’d previously snubbed my nose at – Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, and Rush.

My greatest discovery, though, was a band practically no one in America had heard of – Marillion. My local album-rock station played just enough of the song “Kayleigh” to get me curious. The song didn’t break any new ground with its failed-love theme, but it explored the idea with some of the best lyrics I’d ever heard:

Do you remember chalk hearts melting on a playground wall
Do you remember dawn escapes from moon-washed college halls
Do you remember the cherry blossom in the market square
Do you remember I thought it was confetti in our hair

By the way didn’t I break your heart?
Please excuse me, I never meant to break your heart
So sorry, I never meant to break your heart
But you broke mine

Fish did date a woman named Kay Lee, but said the song was a composite of several “deep and meaningful relationships that basically I’d wrecked because I was obsessed with the career and where I wanted to go.” WK It was an apology to some of the women he’d dated. WK While the song went largely unnoticed in the U.S., its #2 peak in the UK gave rise to the popularity of the name there. WK

I loved the song even if American radio didn’t. Several times I picked up the cassette of the song’s parent album, Misplaced Childhood, in Camelot music store and pondered the fascinating cover art done by Mark Wilkinson of a young boy, barefoot and in a military uniform. I knew nothing about this group. Was it worth taking a risk? The answer was a resounding yes. When I finally took the leap I discovered a neo-progressive rock group from England helmed by a singer and lyricist nicknamed Fish. “Kayleigh” “Kayleigh” was the centerpiece of a concept album about the downfall of the protagonist because of his failed relationship and difficulty in coping with fame. In the end, his rediscovery of the innocence of childhood leads to his rebound.

I found out this was the band’s third album, which led me to delve into their back catalog. “Kayleigh,” Misplaced Childhood, and Marillion became my all-time favorite song, album, and group. I didn’t “break up” with what some considered immature musical tastes; instead I celebrated the music of my childhood even as I discovered new directions in adulthood. It became the philosophy that has governed my music appreciation ever since.

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