Brown Eyed Girl
In a Nutshell
Is there a person alive who can't remember when we used to sing "Sha la la la la la la la la la la te da"?
Probably not. The 1967 classic "Brown Eyed Girl" is regularly included on DJs' lists of most frequently requested songs. It's been covered by artists as diverse as Jimmy Buffett and Everclear. And at one time or another it's been performed by Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Green Day, Reel Big Fish, and that ol' achy breaky Billy Ray Cyrus.
But Morrison once referred to "Brown Eyed Girl" as a "throw away song" and claims that he has written hundreds that are better. Is the song too light for the famously introspective artist? Is he disappointed that millions of karaoke singers have failed to find the deeper, grittier meaning that some claim to have found in his sha la las? Or is he disappointed in himself and the uncharacteristic loss of nerve that some say lie behind his girl's brown eyes?
Great questions – real thought provokers. In fact, sometime we're overcome thinkin' 'bout it.
About the Song
||Musician(s)||Van Morrison (vocals, guitar) Eric Gale (guitar), Al Giorgioni (guitar), Russ Savakus (bass), Paul Griffin (piano), Gary Chester (drums)
|Album||Blowin' Your Mind|
Explore the ways this song connects with the world and with other topics on Shmoop
Van Morrison's "Brown Eyed Girl" is a song for the 1960s—the 1960s as they really were, not as they're sometimes portrayed. It's about sex, but sex that's a bit more shy and conventional than many think the free lovin' 1960s
The song is also about interracial relationships, which the Supreme Court finally legalized in 1967 — or, at least, the song makes a feint in that direction. Like much of the music of the 1960s, it ultimately steers clear of that controversial issue
Perhaps most importantly, the song, like at least a portion of the decade, is pretty innocent. The 1960s were a complex period filled with political conflict, cultural alienation, and racial, gender, and generational rebellion. Van Morrison is a complex artist. His music draws heavily from the blues music
of Chicago and the Mississippi Delta. But here he taps into a more exuberant side of his musical character. In this sense, "Brown Eyed Girl"'s celebration and recollection of discovery speaks to a more innocent side of the famous decade.
On the Charts
The song reached #8 on the Cashbox charts and #10 on the Billboard Hot 100.
The song was listed as one of the Top 100 Songs of the Century by BMI.Rolling Stone
Magazine ranked the song #109 on its list of greatest rock songs; VH1 placed "Brown Eyed Girl" at #49 on its list.
"Brown Eyed Girl" was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2007.