Marillion – Kayleigh
Do you remember barefoot on the lawn with shooting stars
Do you remember loving on the floor in Belsize park
Do you remember dancing in stilettos in the snow
Do you remember you never understood I had to go
In the golden period of the 80s, between the recording of “Do they know it’s Christmas” and Live Aid, it could happen that two or even three songs were released on the same day, and all were destined to make history. It happened on March 18, 1985, when “Welcome to the Pleasuredome“, “Cloud across the Moon” and “Everybody wants to rule the world” came out, and it also happened on April 7, when two songs were released and entered 80s history.
One of these songs was “Kayleigh”, Marillion’s biggest hit. Hearing this name and saying that she was the girl featured in the video, we thought that it was an ancient name, maybe Gaelic or Scottish. After all, in the 80s we’d get used to having the Enyas, the Siobhàns, a Bonnie Tyler named Gaynor as a real name.
Actually, the name “Kayleigh” was practically invented! In his song Fish, Marillion’s frontman, expressed sorrow for all the love stories that somehow he had ended up chasing his career. He had also stated that the song was actually about three or four women and stories, not just one, but it is a fact that the title comes from the name of one of them, Kay, whose middle name was Lee. Not to mention it explicitly, she became Kayleigh.
The funny thing is, Fish actually created a new name! In fact, from 1985 onwards, the girls called Kayleigh increased, probably from parents who had fallen in love with the Marillion song. A British research claims that today the Kayleighs risk to be understimated in their workplaces in favour of girls with more traditional names.
Another reason why we can say that this song is autobiographic, is that we see a girl in the video. She was a German model (the video was filmed in West Berlin), Tamara Nowy, and she later married Fish!
“Kayleigh” was surely Marillion’s most successful hit; it topped the charts in many European countries, but it was not enough to give them success in the United States. Too bad, because their concept album “Mispaced Childhood” also had one of those titles destined to make a sensation, such as “The dream of the blue turtles”, “Dream into action”, “Youthquake”, “Seven and the ragged tiger”. In a way, the success of “Kayleigh” became a source of obsession for Marillion, and within a few years it led to Fish’s separation from the group.