This Mortal Coil recorded a version of “Song to the Siren” that was released as a single in September 1983. It entered the UK Independent Singles Chart at No. 31 on 24 September, and reached No. 3 on 5 November. It also reached the main UK Singles Chart, where it peaked at No. 66 on 22 October. Eventually, the single appeared for 101 weeks on the UK Indie Charts, a run that ranked fourth in the 1980s after three classic long-selling records: “Bela Lugosi’s Dead” by Bauhaus (131 weeks), “Blue Monday” by New Order (186 weeks) and “Love Will Tear Us Apart” by Joy Division (195 weeks). “Song to the Siren” was included on the group’s 1984 album It’ll End in Tears which was released a year after the single.
This Mortal Coil was a loose collective of musicians under the leadership of producer Ivo Watts-Russell, and most of whom had recorded for the 4AD label. Singer Elizabeth Fraser and guitarist Robin Guthrie of the Cocteau Twins performed the new version of Buckley’s song. Fraser also recorded a duet with Tim’s son, Jeff Buckley.
Following the release of the single by This Mortal Coil, Buckley’s work experienced a reappraisal in the mid-1980s. This revival of interest in the artist would be one of the greatest factors in the increase of his posthumous sales, falling second only to the publicity generated by the success of his son, Jeff.
In 2009, the This Mortal Coil version of the song was featured in the supernatural fantasy film The Lovely Bones, to critical acclaim, having been chosen for the 1970s period piece story to reflect a passage of time from the film’s 1973 initial setting in rural America to a 1980s era that had arrived over the years since main character Susie Salmon’s murder.
In 2012 Dawn French selected this song on Desert Island Discs as, in her words, “The song that made me fall in love again”. In 2021, the song featured on an episode of Soul Music, a music documentary series on BBC Radio 4