Lilac Wine

"Lilac Wine"
Single by Elkie Brooks
from the album Pearls
ReleasedJanuary 1978
GenreAdult contemporary
Songwriter(s)James Shelton
Producer(s)Mike Batt
"Lilac Wine"
Song by Jeff Buckley
from the album Grace
RecordedBearsville Recording Studio, Woodstock, NY (Fall 1993)
Songwriter(s)James Shelton
Producer(s)Andy Wallace

"Lilac Wine" is a song written by James Shelton (lyrics and music) in 1950. It was introduced by Hope Foye in the short-lived theater musical revue, Dance Me a Song. The song has since been recorded by many artists including Eartha Kitt, Nina Simone, Helen Merrill, Elkie Brooks, Katie Melua, Jeff Buckley, Clare Maguire, Jeff Beck, Fanny Ardant, John Legend, Miley Cyrus, Emily Keener, The Cinematic Orchestra, Lady Rizo, Ana Moura and Dave Gahan with Soulsavers.


The lyrics form a narrative of heartache at losing a lover and taking solace from wine made from a lilac tree. The song focuses on the blissful oblivion achieved by becoming intoxicated. Its inspiration was a line in the 1925 novel Sorrow in Sunlight by Ronald Firbank, in which the main character, Miami Mouth, circulates through a party "offering a light, lilac wine, sweet and heady".

Cover versions[]

"Lilac Wine" has been recorded by a number of artists including Eartha Kitt (1953), Helen Merrill in her album Helen Merrill with Strings (1955), Judy Henske on her debut, self-titled album (1963), Nina Simone on her album Wild Is the Wind (1966), Elkie Brooks (1978) and Jeff Buckley on his album Grace (1994). The Jeff Buckley version was used as background music in the 2006 French film Tell No One. It also appears on Katie Melua's debut studio album Call Off the Search (2003). Barb Jungr recorded a version for her 2008 tribute album to Nina Simone, Just Like a Woman. Jeff Beck played a solo in the version included on Emotion & Commotion (2010) with vocals by Imelda May.[1] It was released as a single in 2010 by the American singer, Jordyn Jackson.[2] Miley Cyrus released it as a video in 2012, as part of her YouTube series, Backyard Sessions.[3]

The only artist to have major chart success with the song was Elkie Brooks, and the song remains closely associated with her, especially in the UK and Europe. Her rendition peaked at No. 16 in the UK Singles Chart in 1978.[4] It was included on her 1981 album, Pearls.

As of November 2021, the most recent version is included on Imposter, the third collaboration between Depeche Mode's Dave Gahan and Soulsavers.


Chart 1978 Peak ref.
Irma Irish Singles Charts 8 [5]
Netherlands Dutch Charts 50 [6]
UK Singles Charts 16 [7]


  1. ^ "Lilac Wine - Jeff Beck feat Imelda May". YouTube. 13 December 2013. Archived from the original on 2021-12-21.
  2. ^ "Jordyn Jackson".
  3. ^ "Miley Cyrus 'Lilac Wine': Singer Releases Cover Of James Shelton's 1950s Classic". Huffington Post. September 10, 2012. Retrieved 21 June 2017.
  4. ^ "The Official Charts Company - "Lilac Wine" - Elkie Brooks".
  5. ^ "IRMA". Irish Charts. Retrieved 16 November 2021.
  6. ^ "Dutch Charts". Dutch singles top 100. Retrieved 11 November 2021.
  7. ^ "Elkie Brooks Chart History: Top 75". Official Charts. Retrieved 11 November 2021.