Golden Brown

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"Golden Brown" is a song by the English rock band The Stranglers. It was released as a 7" single in December 1981, on Liberty. It was the second single released from the band's sixth album La Folie.



Originally featured on the group's album La Folie, which was released in November 1981, and later on some pressings of Feline, "Golden Brown" was released as a single in December 1981, and was accompanied by a video. It reached #2 in the official UK singles chart in February 1982,[1] behind "Town Called Malice" by The Jam.[2] It was the comparatively conservative BBC Radio Two, at that time a middle-of-the-road (MOR) music radio station, which 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 short years before. The fourth line of the song, "With my mind she runs," is a common source of mondegreens.[3] 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 (although in an interview with Channel 4, drummer Jet Black quipped it was a song about Marmite).

The single was a hit around the world, scaling the Top 10 as far away as Australia. Its commercial success was probably the single factor that secured The Stranglers their continuing life in pop mainstream for the remainder of the 1980s.


There has been much controversy surrounding the lyrics. In his 2001 book The Stranglers Song By Song, Hugh Cornwell clearly 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".[4]

Musical composition

The song is a waltzing, harpsichord-led ballad alternating between 3/4 and 4/4. The song's characteristic opening phrase consists of three bars of 3/4 and one bar of 4/4. The music was largely written by keyboardist Dave Greenfield and drummer Jet Black, with lyrics by Hugh Cornwell.[5]

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