Kyrie

Album: Welcome to the Real World (1985)
Charted: 11 1

Songfacts®:

  • "Kyrie Eleison" is Greek for "Lord, have mercy." It is used as a prayer in both Roman Catholic and Greek Orthodox services. Greek was the original language of the New Testament and it was later translated in to Latin.
  • This song is credited to lead singer Richard Page, keyboardist Steve George and lyricist John Lang. Clearing up an urban legend that Page wrote the song after being attacked, John Lang told the Chicago Sun-Times of July 9th 2004: "Richard Page did write the music and melody, but I am the one who wrote the lyrics. I got the inspiration from singing it as a kid in an Episcopal church in Phoenix. Also, 'Kyrie' had nothing to do with Richard being assaulted, mainly because it wasn't Richard who was assaulted - it was me! But that happened three years before writing 'Kyrie,' and had nothing to do with that song."
  • When this was a hit, very few people listening to Top 40 radio had any idea that they were singing "Lord Have Mercy, Down the Road that I must travel!" The religious significance was mostly lost. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Jeff - Charleston, SC
  • Mr. Mister was not a Christian band, but their frontman Richard Page considered this song a prayer. "I get a lot of power from meditation, from being still and realizing that what I'm doing is insignificant compared to the universe," he said. "That's what the song is all about."
  • The group wrote this while they were on tour with Adam Ant. It was a year before they recorded it.
  • The first single from the Welcome to the Real World album was "Broken Wings," which went to #1 US in December 1985, giving the band their first American chart-topper. "Kryie" was the next single from the album, and it made the top spot in March 1986.
  • The music video was shot in December 1985 when Mr. Mister were opening for Tina Turner on her Private Dancer tour. Director Nick Morris shot footage of the band at their concert in Pembroke Pines, Florida at a venue called the Hollywood Sportatorium. The beach was nearby, so Morris also shot the band there and took footage of them doing rock star stuff before the show: riding in a limo, entering the dressing room, etc.

    Morris, a British director who would later do the videos for Europe's "The Final Countdown" and Cinderella's "Don't Know What You Got (Till It's Gone)," had never shot a video in America before, and didn't know that you needed release forms to show anyone's face. This caused a problem when after the video was cut and distributed, he was asked for the releases from the older guys on the beach the band is seen interacting with. Fortunately, these guys were regulars at this spot, so a production assistant was able to track them down and get the signatures.
  • The day they started shooting the video, the band read a negative review in the Los Angeles Times that was devastating for Richard Page. "His face dropped and he was in the saddest mood all day thinking he'd come to the end as a credible musician," director Nick Morris said in a Songfacts interview. "I remember thinking, I won't let my musicians who I'm about to work with read papers on the day of the shoot."

Comments: 30

  • Irene from New York CityI was ever so happy to hear this tune from the first time. For me it is right up there with Higher Love by Stevie Winwood, inspirational and elevating. Needless to say I am very familiar with the expression as it is an essential part of the Greek Orthodox religion, of which I follow (humbly and not perfectly) so I ask each day "dear Lord have mercy on me." A very comforting expression and reassuring as there is always room for forgiveness where there is humility. Thank you for this song!
  • Julie from E Wa State UsaFunny they say that most people didn’t know what Kyrie Eleison meant! From the first day I heard it as a young 20 something I knew EXACTLY what it meant, being the “ good Catholic Girl” I was! It became my number one song and gave me many years of inspiration! I knew Mr Mister wasn’t a christian band and I was surprised when it went to number one, but it’s still one of my most favorite 80’s song! I was listening to Xm 80s on 8 and it came on so I thought I would finally look up why they wrote it, I used to actually run to it with my walkman on! Lol Love these guys!
  • Urroner from UtahI was working in the Space Program when the song first came out and we all thought I was "carry a laser. " It was for five years before our boss told us we were singing it wrong. Dude how cow you let us do that. Hed just smile and said he liked both versions
  • Nona Yrbsns from San Diego@Peter From Downunder from NZ and @Pf from Texas: OMG, you gave voice to my same thoughts! I had that song stuck in my head all morning and couldn't figure out what I was 'hearing' and thought the same thing all these years: Keerie Alaysan was a girl with whom he was in love. Had a devil of a time figuring out what to type into Google to force it to come up. But, thanks for the walk down memory lane. Your description of the time was spot on!
  • Carla @ Nc from North Carolina, UsaWow! I just followed suit @Peter from Down Under and your account of the emotional travel this song brings to heart and soul is indeed true! Perhaps a gift that we did not know at the time...as adults I feel finally knowing what it means touches me even more. I always loved this song...now I treasure it....
  • Pf from Texas@Peter From Downunder from NZ: Everything you said, man - everything you said.

    I think it was just before "Broken Wings" came out big, bit Mr. Mister was opening for Tina Turner on her "Private Dancer" tour. A friend and I got to the concert late just as Mr. Mister had finished their set so we figured we were "on time" because we had come to see Tina.

    Only a few short weeks later did I realize just what we had missed Live!


    "Broken Wings" and "Kyrie" - two of the greatest '80s hits that Always get turned up Loud and put on repeat. ;-D
  • Peter From Downunder from NzWell here I am in 2020 finally looking up what lay behind this song 35 years after I heard it the first time. Yikes! A bit slow off the mark. :-| When I was a teen hearing it the first time, I thought the words were something like "kiri a laser", and I remember thinking "What the heck??". I couldn't make any sense of it. Not being Catholic and knowing very little about their various liturgies and rituals, I didn't connect the words to anything other than just simple "song word nonsense" that was common in the 80's. :-p

    Like one or two others have commented, this song has a very strong emotional resonance for me. After getting past my thing about the word "laser", I assumed I was hearing "Kiri Elaise" and decided that was a woman's name. So for me, this song has always felt like a love song about a woman. Considering what a disaster my teens and early 20's were in terms of "love and romance", songs like this one that appear to have a very strong yet romantic melody (for me, that includes songs like Toto's "Africa", Icehouse's "Great Southern Land" and Aha's "Take On Me") and take me back to those days whenever I hear them. It's kinda like biting on a sore tooth then letting go: it's a mix of pain and pleasure at the same time. Sad, but true, ha ha.

    I struggled badly with the 80's and 90's, the massive changes the swept through the world, and trying to find my place in it all along the way. This song for me represents the best and worst of life at the same time, and always brings a catch in my throat and a vague stab of pain in the heart when I listen to it. Even though I now know the song is nothing like I've held it to be over the decades, the melody will always be with me as one of those "blasts from the past" that have immediate emotional resonance for a time gone, of opportunities lost / squandered, and of an era that felt a lot safer and more normal than the weird, moral-less miasma of identity politics and the destruction of wholesomeness we see / experience in the 21st century.

    For all the nice gadgets and improvements in life in 2020, and all the things that were wrong with the world in the 80's (and the very basic tech, ha ha), I'd swap 1985 for 2020 in a heartbeat...
  • Jennifer from Scranton Pa"Kyrie Eleison" was just said during the prayer in the Chapel, during the last bit of Travolta/Cage's movie "Face/Off". Then I remembered the song and looked it up via a phoenetic speech pattern. Man, I love the internet. So much more robust than in 1997 when the movie came out, let alone the 80s when the song did!
  • Tia from HaywardI finally looked this up today because for some reason this song was flowing through my mind and I knew I did not understand the story and meaning, I love songs and lyrics and remember songs extremely fast if I can emotionally relate. I love the feeling of this song but I was pretty sure that not only did I not get the meaning but I was probably hacking up the words also. I love the hilarity of singing a song for years and seeing the actual lyrics. Often this happens in the middle of singing a song for the first time at karaoke and reading the words on the screen, I love when that happens. So here it is: I thought kireyay was probably a Russian girl's name and this story happened in history that she was killed and laying in the road and the man telling the story could see there in the road as he went on with his life, this girl he loved stayed on his mind so that is why the song is so emotional. "Kireyae lays upon the road that I must travel" Ha Ha!
  • Helena from United KingdomThis song has always inspired and uplifted me whenever I've needed to feel something spiritual. There's something special about this song and Mr Mister. I've been a fan of Mr Mister for nearly a decade. I was only born in the mid eighties so wasn't old enough to be into them when they were big, I used to hear this on the radio and I used to also think he was "carrying a laser" down the road...now I know it's Greek for Lord Have Mercy. Kyrie Eleison. I dunno, this song always reminds me of summer holidays when I was a kid, the blue sky and sand, the sea and the feeling of freedom.
  • Hayden from Seattle, WaI think I was about 9 when my brother gave me his old mono reel to reel tape recorder and I recorded the song Timothy written by the guy who later wrote The Pina Colada Song. I wrote down the lyrics and was shocked to find out what I was actually grooving to. since then I made a point to find out the lyrics to what I'm listening to. I finally understand this song. Thanks.
  • Shari from OklahomaI just learned today from a friend while discussing a church bulletin from the Episcopal church that Kyrie Eleison means Lord Have Mercy. It took me back immediately to the song from the 80's, so I looked it up. I always thought the lyrics were "Carry me I'm lazy down the road that I must travel."
  • Chris from DetroitI grew up Catholic, so I always knew what Kyrie Eleison meant.... but I've never figured out what he means by being "between the soul and soft machine". Any ideas? Maybe it's being torn between spiritual (soul) and physical (soft machine/body). Just a guess.
  • Seth from Shreveport, LaLove that first 32 seconds.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn December 7th, 1985, Mr. Mister performed "Broken Wings" and "Kyrie" on the NBC-TV program 'Saturday Night Live'...
    Both records peaked for 2 weeks each at #1 on Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart ("Broken Wings" peaked on Dec. 1st, 1985 and "Kyrie" on Mar. 23rd, 1986).
  • Julie from Plattsmouth, NeThis song is so uplifting! I listen to it whenever I can. What can be done to revive this song or change the lyrics to reflect what is happening in our country. This is such a moving song and we need the Lord's mercy!
  • Esskayess from Dallas, TxMade me laugh at how many atheists must have sung this song, not realizing what they were actually singing.
  • Greg from Boston, MaI was 11 when this song was popular and I just thought they were saying "Feedley Deeeeeeeee down the road that I must travel." When people would mention the song "Kyrie" I had no idea they were talking about this song. LOL.
  • Jeamette from Narberth, PaI think of my mom every time I hear Kyrie. This song takes me right back to this memory; I had already graduated of high school by this time. I was in the living room; mom was resting in her chair and the radio played Kyrie. She told me that Kyrie Eleison was Latin for Lord, have mercy. (She studied Latin and at times we went to the Latin mass at The Cathedral of Saint Peter and Saint Paul in Philadelphia.) I listened to the song with a better appreciation, mom liked it too.
  • Christie from Sacramento, CaI also thought it was "carry a laser" which was espeially poignant as I was working in a laser hair removal salon when I first noticed this song. I think the Muzak folks must have thought it was about lasers too!
  • Big Ed from Pulaski, TnThis was a great road song! I was a Jr. in high school when this song came out. Great memeories of me and all my friends hanging out at Old Hickory Lake
  • Don from Chicago, IlThese guys are very talented musicians. Do you yourself a favor and check out their first CD, "I Wear The Face" as well as their third, "Go On."
  • Clarke from Pittsburgh, PaHaving been raised Catholic, and being *just* old enough to remember Greek and Latin being used in certain places at Mass, I always knew they were singing "Kyrie Eleison" and what it meant. And I liked the whole Mr. Mister series of hits, even including the last semi-hit, "Is It Love," which everyone else seems to have forgotten. "Broken Wings" gets the volume cranked up every time it comes on.
  • Steve from Rochester, NyA friend and myself were talking about this song because he was makin a cd with songs that have girls names in them. He was wrong and so was I. We both thought it was Carry a laser. Now the song makes more sence.
  • Alberto Colonna from Turin, ItalyIt's like a prayer because the singer asks for help in all life's difficulties simbolyzed by the road
  • Alberto Colonna from Turin, ItalyThe first religious song i have sung
  • Alberto Colonna from Turin, ItalyIt's a very beautiful song so deep
  • Shannon from Palisade, CoHey, I thought it was 'carry a laser' too! How funny!

    I have always wanted to know that lyric.
  • Joe from St. Louis, MoMr.Mister was a band made up of session artists. Richard Page now does Contemporary Christian Music
  • Chet from Saratoga Springs, NyI was 13 when this song came out and my sister was 7. he thought the chrorus was the phrase..."Carry a laser"
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