CMU Approved

Approved: Stornoway – Lydia, The Tattooed Lady

By | Published on Monday 9 February 2015


The name ‘Lydia’ and the words ‘the tattooed lady’ are inseparably linked in my mind. A fact that proved mildly embarrassing when I learned the name of a friend’s new baby recently and those words came tumbling out of my mouth before I realised what was happening. I suppose it might have been worse if I’d started singing, but the look I received anyway can’t be taken back now.

Part of the reason ‘Lydia, The Tattooed Lady’ was so fresh in my mind was that I had recently re-watched ‘The Fisher King’, in which Robin Williams sings it to his date, played by Amanda Plummer. Had that not been the case, I still would have had Kermit The Frog nudging me, or maybe Groucho Marx. Or, had I bothered watching ‘Breaking Bad’ all the way to the end, apparently that might have prompted the involuntary action too.

This strange and incredibly memorable song has been seeding itself in our minds for over 80 years now, as documentary director Jon Spira (responsible for excellent Oxford music scene film ‘Anyone Can Play Guitar’) outlines in this article about its history for the BFI website.

To accompany the article, Spira convinced Stornoway to take some time off from working on their latest album to record their own cover of the song. So, acquaint yourself or refresh your memory now, ready for future baby-meeting embarrassment: