Song Lyric Sunday (1 December 2019) – Facial Beauty

Last week, Jim (NewEpicAuthor, A Unique Title For Me) set the subject of Thanksgiving (my choice). This week he gives us the subject of facial beauty.

I must admit that I swerved this week. I find with SLS that I will often think of a song as soon as I read the challenge, and after that, it is difficult to get that song out of my head. So I have to try and force myself to think of other songs that might fit. The song I am actually going to present, I’ve had it in my mind for a few days, but only last night decided to use it instead. So here I am, on a Sunday morning, rewriting my SLS post.

This week I started off with a song that some of us might remember, because it was a hit on both sides of the Atlantic. But I’m going to drop that tune – I’ll use it another week – for something that is more British – you might know the band but probably not the tune – which comes with a tiny personal story.

Back in the early nineties, I lived in Oxford, UK. My first job. I gradually built up a circle of buddies that I would sometimes meet of an evening at the local bar. As we were in a thriving university city, there were lots to choose from.

One of the guys I met, I’ll call him Red for the purposes of this piece, seemed like a nice enough chap and over time, he too became a buddy, within the context of that bar. In those days, lots of alcohol helped break down the barriers.

There came a time when my rental expired, and I was looking for somewhere new to live. Red was an architect, about ten years older than me, was a few steps further up the ladder, he had already bought himself a house but was looking to rent out some rooms in it to help pay the bills. So, we did each other a favour and I moved into Red’s house.

Red and I had been buddies in this bar. But, you know, a bar was something for after work. During the working day, I had a proper job to go to. Living with him, however, I soon discovered that drink was Red’s life. In fact, his day started at lunchtime, when he would get up and head out for a bar someplace, he would drink all afternoon and would come home, drunk, at any time in the evening or night. Off to bed, to repeat the cycle the next day.

Red’s finest hour was when he came home once in the evening, having been drinking all afternoon, then decided to go out shopping. Before he left, he had a cigarette in his bedroom, and put it out, not quite completely, then tipped his ashtray into his waste paper basket. I was just about to have a relaxing bath after work, and as I saw the smoke, as the the Fire Department arrived, I had to evacuate the house wearing only my dressing gown! That day, Red caused tens of thousands of damage. Fortunately the fire was put out before it got past his bedroom, so nothing of mine was damaged, although Red lost a lot.

And so today’s song, it’ll come as no surprise that it reminds me of Red. It is approximately from the era, but when I first heard the song, it just fitted Red like a glove.

The Beautiful South were active for a large part of my adult life, from 1988 to 2007. I always liked them, and have several of their albums, which they would release at intervals during my main music-buying years. Old Red Eyes Is Back is a song from 1992. It was written by The South themselves, by Paul Heaton and Dave Rotheray, and released as a single which was a minor hit, reaching #22 in the UK chart. As far as I can tell it was never released in the US, I would expect not based on its UK performance. But, it is a pleasant listen nevertheless, and its words tell a story.

Old Red eyes is back
Red from the night before the night before
Walked into the wrong bar walked into a door

Old Red’s in town
And sitting late at night he doesn’t make a sound
Just adding to the wrinkles on his deathly frown

They’re only red from all the tears that I should’ve shed
They’re only red from all the women that I could’ve wed
So when you look into these eyes I hope you realise
They could never be blue
They could never be blue
They could never be blue
They could never be blue

Listen up Old Red
You never listened to a word the doctor said
He told you if you drank another you’d be dead

Old Red Eyes is back
His shoulders ache all over and his brain is sore
He pours a drink and listens to his body thaw

They’re only red from all the thoughts unused inside my head
They’re only red from all the things I could have done instead
So when you look into these eyes I hope you realise
They could never be blue
They could never be blue
They could never be blue
They could never be blue

Blue is a street without an end
Red is the colour of my hell
Blue is a greeting from a friend
Red is the colour of farewell

Old Red he died
And every single landlord in the district cried
An empty bottle of whisky laying by his side
A lazy little tear running from each eye
They could never be blue
They could never be blue
They could never be blue
They could never be blue

Paul Heaton, Dave Rotheray


  1. He burnt down his own house and managed to put someone else in danger? Wow! I hope he maybe quit drinking one day. It’s scary to be in a fire, glad nothing more severe happened!
    I enjoyed the song and the videoclip, it is really well done. I didn’t know this song from the Beautiful South, I think I only know the two biggest hits. Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I still have a friend in Oxford who told me that he had cancer, so possibly his smoking had caught up with him. He’d still only be mid-sixties now so not particularly old even now. But as you can imagine my relationship with him just got more and more strained. I eventually left Oxford to work in the US for a short while and though I kept in touch with a few people there, I was glad to forget this guy.


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