Aired on Treasure Island OldiesMar 10, 2024

In 60s, and 70s single releases on 45s, were scrutinized for their lyrics to make sure that they did not contain profanity, suggestive obscene language and/or promotional content.

Three examples of the foregoing were:

  • Jimmy Dean’s 1961 #1 hit “Big Bad John” which had its last line changed from: “At the bottom of this mine lies one helluva man” to “At the bottom of this mine lies a big, big man.”
  • Influenced by the Catholic Church, the original lyrics in Lou Christie’s “Rhapsody In The Rain” (#16 – 1966) were changed from: “We were makin’ out in the rain” to “We fell in love in the rain” and “In this car, we went too far” to “Our love came like a falling star.”
  • The Kinks’ lead singer, Ray Davies, having to go back into the studio and replace the words “Coca Cola” with “Cherry Cola” in the group’s classic 1970 hit “Lola.”

A Northern Ireland singer/songwriter ran into a similar experience in 1967 with a single release that many radio stations deemed to contain lyrics that were too suggestive. He agreed to making changes.

However, aside from the controversial lyrics, it may have been a good thing that he had changed the title of his composition before its release or he could have been in even more trouble with the “controllers of the airwaves.”


The song was the artist’s first solo release on Bang Records. It debuted on the Billboard Hot 100 in July 1967, peaking at #10 on the charts.

Despite his compliance to change the lyrics in the song from “making love in the green grass” with “laughin’ and a-runnin’, hey hey” Van Morrison‘s original recording of “Brown-Eyed Girl” has remained widely familiar, as the uncensored version of the song is regularly played by many “oldies” and “classic rock” radio stations.

What is not widely known is the fact that the title of the song originally was “Brown-Skinned Girl.” Regarding the title change prior to its release, Morrison states, “That was just a mistake. It was a kind of Jamaican song. Calypso. It just slipped my mind [that] I changed the title.” Regardless, it was a change that proved to be very fortuitous.

As of 2015, “Brown-Eyed Girl” remains the most downloaded and most played song of the entire 1960s decade. It is also one of The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll and its this week’s Tom Locke moment in time.

YouTube video of this song: