"A Pair of Brown Eyes" as written by and Shane Patrick Lysaght Macgowan....
One summer evening drunk to hell
I stood there nearly lifeless
An old man in the corner sang
Where the water lilies grow
And on the jukebox johnny sang
About a thing called love
And its how are you kid and whats your name
And how would you bloody know?
In blood and death neath a screaming sky
I lay down on the ground
And the arms and legs of other men
Were scattered all around
Some cursed, some prayed, some prayed then cursed
Then prayed and bled some more
And the only thing that I could see
Was a pair of brown eyes that was looking at me
But when we got back, labeled parts one to three
There was no pair of brown eyes waiting for me

And a rovin a rovin a rovin Ill go
For a pair of brown eyes

I looked at him he looked at me
All I could do was hate him
While ray and philomena sang
Of my elusive dream
I saw the streams, the rolling hills
Where his brown eyes were waiting
And I thought about a pair of brown eyes
That waited once for me
So drunk to hell I left the place
Sometimes crawling sometimes walking
A hungry sound came across the breeze
So I gave the walls a talking
And I heard the sounds of long ago
From the old canal
And the birds were whistling in the trees
Where the wind was gently laughing

And a rovin a rovin a rovin Ill go
For a pair of brown eyes


Lyrics submitted by iKickDogs, edited by PogueMahoney

"A Pair of Brown Eyes" as written by Shane Macgowan

Lyrics © DOWNTOWN MUSIC PUBLISHING LLC

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A Pair of Brown Eyes song meanings
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17 Comments

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  • +3
    General CommentHe's also saying that he doesn't need anyone else's hell, he'll find his own thank you very much. There's a great sense of place and time here also with the mix of the old man not able to let go of the past and the young guy not able to cope with the present. Unless you've spent a lot of time in pubs and know that Irish thirst then it's hard to get inside the picture that Shane can paint.
    still stupidon September 28, 2005   Link
  • +2
    General CommentIsn't it that the first narrator walks into a pub after a fight with his girl, hoping to drink himself into oblivion when this war veteran starts burning his ear off with his war stories, parts of which are recollected in the song. the man just wants the veteran to piss off, but the old mans words come back and haunt him on his way home. I don't have the booklet to "the rest of the best" but i think i heard that somewhere
    Androgynouson March 04, 2005   Link
  • +2
    General CommentShane has described it as a story of a young man who sits next to "an old bastard at a bar who wants to tell you his life story".
    If you want a great version of this song, check out Shane singing it with Christy Moore...awesome
    irishroveron July 03, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThis song is a vision of hell in the midst of life...it has two narrators, one an ageless war veteran who cannot forget the "blood and death beneath the screaming sky". The other narrator being beinga young man thinking of his loved one far away
    Sir_commenting_slagon July 11, 2002   Link
  • +1
    General CommentSir commenting slag is right there are two narraters. No way is this about a vision that has scarred somone for life. The insert to the Very Best of The Pougues, where I reckognise Sir_commenting_slag's comments from, supports this idea.
    SouthHibbingon April 20, 2003   Link
  • +1
    My Interpretationthere is a series of books called "33 1/3" that goes in depth on classic albums and for the explanation of this song it says that it's about a heartbroken youngster being bummed about a girl. when he goes to the bar, the "old bastard at a bar who wants to tell you his life story" tells his story to the main speaker in response to his somberness, basically saying, "what the hell do you know about pain?"

    thus, the first half of the first verse is the youngster, and the old man's story interjects in the second half and lasts until halfway through the second verse. the young man's story continues with him leaving the bar. in this reading the first chorus is part of the old man's story, and the second chorus is part of the young man's story. they were or are both in search of a pair of brown eyes but for different reasons. perhaps it's an older version of the same person trying to tell the kid to stop being emo and grow up.
    themagnetcon November 18, 2010   Link
  • 0
    General Commentyeah. it says that in the booklet of "the rest of the best"
    MrGoodBaron May 11, 2003   Link
  • 0
    General CommentIt's true, there are 2 narraters, but it is really hard to tell that if you havn't the insert or heard it from somewhere else. This is still my fav pogues song though.
    Kaguthon April 11, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General CommentShane is an ace songwriter and this track is truely proof. Probably one of the saddest pop songs to ever chart (even if it was only 72 in UK charts).
    dougievileon October 13, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General CommentAndrogynous has it dead on. Shane can spin the most amazing dark tales of love and loss.
    whistlersmammyon April 15, 2005   Link

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