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Everything But the Girl – Come on Home

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It has never been easy to be an Everything But the Girl fan. Time and again we’ve watched as inferior acts enjoyed enormous success while Ben Watt and Tracey Thorn were just sort of there, occasionally snagging a hit with a well-timed cover version that they were probably forced to do at gunpoint by their label. Meanwhile their own songs were routinely ignored and somehow the general public got a whiff of the wine bar about them, lumped them in with Sade and The Style Council (in their quieter moments) and that, as they say, was that.

Of course we all know it turned out well eventually –  EBTG got their groove back in time for a spectacular late renaissance on the dance floor and all was well. If you haven’t read Tracey Thorn’s autobiography Bedsit Disco Queen yet I implore you to do so immediately. It tells the entire story brilliantly.

Anyway. Back to July 1986 we go – Chris de Burgh has just toppled Madonna‘s Papa Don’t Preach from the no.1 spot with The Lady in Red, and Owen Paul is riding high, probably anticipating a long and fruitful career. Oh dear.

Into this melee came a returning Everything But the Girl at no.67 with Come on Home, the first single from new album Baby the Stars Shine Bright. This record was EBTG writ large, with an orchestra on hand to add a swell of drama and romance to proceedings. It’s still quite possibly their finest album, but boy was it out of step with the times. S/A/W were in ascendance and reggae was having a bit of a moment, but you’d be hard pressed to find many lush string and brass arrangements anywhere in the top 40.

Come on Home was, and remains, an utterly beautiful, heart-wrenching gut-tightener of a song. It’s absolutely huge in terms of its production but beautifully intimate lyrically – “every day’s like Christmas day without you / It’s cold and there’s nothing to do.” But that lyric gives the clue as to why this wasn’t a hit – in everything but the name, Come on Home is a Christmas record. It has jingle bells in it, for the love of god. However, someone at blanco y negro decided that high summer was the perfect time to stick it out *slow clap*

I still believe that all is not lost for this particular song. Find it a home in a Christmas advert – John Lewis would do nicely – and its long-deserved place in the public’s affections would be a dead cert. Picture the scene – a young girl with an unflattering bob fiddles with fairy lights outside her isolated country cottage. An earnest young man struggles along poorly gritted b-roads in a giant blizzard – he can’t see anything in front of him. Eventually, as he has almost given up hope, the girl switches on the lights and his way is suddenly made clear by the house, lit up like a beacon in the wintery darkness. He is HOME, just as the chorus kicks in. Oh god, I am crying just typing this.

Advertising types – sort it please.

Entered chart: 20/07/1986

Chart peak: 44

Weeks on chart: 7

Who could sing this today and make it a hit? Ellie bloody Goulding – but as we’ve discussed, with some clever planning there’s no reason EBTG couldn’t yet make the top 10 with this.

4 Comments »

  1. Great song and good call on using it in a Christmas advert – let’s face it, this wets all over a John Lennon offcut doesn’t it?

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  2. Hmmm, yes, there’s a few of these isn’t there. Human League – Life On Your Own ‘Winter is approaching, there’s snow upon the ground…’ Virgin Records, how about we put this out in June? And Virgin again for Simple Minds See The Lights ‘Summer’s gone, Winter’s in your eyes’ Ummm, May? Slow claps indeed, great read as always.

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  3. Although it was out of step musically at the time, I seem to recall that this did get a lot of airplay (especially, bizarrely, from Radio 1), so it stood more of a chance than most of their earlier singles at being a hit, but never managed it. I always preferred the follow-up single (and even bigger flop) ‘Please Don’t Leave Me Behind’.

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