Favorite Song: The Stranglers ‘Golden Brown’ – this song is about what now?

I was such a naive little thing when I got into music. I remember how I discovered “Golden Brown”, probably in some Guy Ritchie movie on the soundtrack or some such and I was so much in love with it and with Hugh Cornwell’s voice. I bought – to my shame – not an album but a Stranglers sampler (I like to think I did that because it was not yet the time when you could get everything via Amazon and so I only found it on the sampler in my local record store) and listened to it on repeat.

And now, doing some research on the actual meaning of the song, I have to find out that it probably 100% was about heroin. Crickey!

I have hardly had a drink in three years and have merely tasted the marihuana a couple of times in my life and there I am, humming and singing an ode to heroin. Geez, that’s the horrible thing about Brits and their music. They really know how to sing a song about drugs in such a pretty way that you’ll never guess (Americans somehow haven’t yet managed to be that sly and cheeky about it).

Ok, but I still love that song and wanted to feature it because Hugh Cornwall who wrote the lyrics also said that it might have been about a girl. I actually think that this was just an excuse so people like me would not be totally horrified by the lyrics and clasp only a few of their pearls.

Ok, so here’s the reason why I love the song: that solo guitar in the middle, this incredibly simple, close to monotonous melody, that voice (!) and then this repetitive carnival’s music, that kind of puts you into this weird trance. It’s a beauty even if it’s about a horrible horrible drug.

I also want to add this version which is Hugh Cornwall playing with the Mariachi band Mariachi Mexteca which is really absurd but works surprisingly well.

(I also would like to add how lovely Hugh’s voice still is)

2 thoughts on “Favorite Song: The Stranglers ‘Golden Brown’ – this song is about what now?

  1. I discovered this song in the Guy Ritchie movie too (Snatch) and have fallen in love with it. Apparently, they did not want the song to only be about heroin, there was perhaps something about Cornwell’s girlfriend.
    Beautiful beautiful song.


    1. I love layered meaning in song lyrics. Makes it easy for boring geeks like me to still bond with a drug song, haha.


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