"Joan of Arc (Maid of Orleans)" is a song by British band Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark (OMD) and was the third single released from their third studio albumArchitecture & Morality. Mostly instrumental, the track has been described by OMD frontman Andy McCluskey as the group's "Mull of Kintyre".[1]

To prevent confusion with their previous single "Joan of Arc", the song was retitled "Maid of Orleans (The Waltz Joan of Arc)" for its single release. Both songs are about the French heroine Joan of Arc and both reached the Top 5 of the UK Singles Chart - although this single was more successful internationally, topping the charts in several countries including Germany, where it was the biggest-selling single of 1982.[1] It also hit #5 in Ireland and #7 in New Zealand. The song was used during the climax and closing credits to the final episode of the second series of Ashes to Ashes.

Ned Raggett in AllMusic described the song as "epic", concluding: "With another bravura McCluskey lead and a mock-bagpipe lead that's easily more entrancing than the real thing, it's a wrenching ballad like no other before it and little since."[2]

In 1989, Radio Veronica listeners voted "Maid of Orleans" the 60th greatest song of all time.[3] In 1991, MTV Europe named the single's accompanying video as the 37th best ever made.[4]


 [hide*1 The song

The song[edit]Edit

Maid of Orleans had originally been written by Andy McCluskey on 30 May 1981, the 550th anniversary of Joan of Arc's death. The song is in 6/8 time, giving it a waltz-like style. With only eight lines of text it is almost an instrumental. The main theme is a synthesized bagpipe tune (played on the Mellotron --- consisting of the "female choir" and the "3-Violins" presets). The intro is made of strange noises and was added later:[5]

The intro was a problem for radio and we did do edited versions where it was shortened.

The idea came about because we actually had the song recorded but thought the track started oddly and needed something else to announce its arrival. At the time of A+M we were making a lot of music that was ambient soundscapes. The natural thing was to give the song an intro that set up the feel for the main themes to resolve out of the noises.

It's not meant to "mean" anything specific, just set up a feeling to let the track grow out of the strange noises. I think that it worked well!

BTW.. for the sound anoraks...most of the noises are melotron [sic] vocal sounds slowed down/sped up and greatly distorted simply by completely overdriving the old Helios desk in The Manor Studio. Pink noise and snare drum in lots of reverb.

The B-sides[edit]Edit

The songs on the B-sides are "Navigation" and "Of All the Things We've Made" (12" and CD single only). Both songs can be found as bonus tracks on the remastered versions of Architecture & Morality. "Of All the Things We've Made" was added to the track list of their next album Dazzle Ships, released in 1983. "Navigation" was the title track for the 2001 B-sides compilation album Navigation: The OMD B-Sides. The early 12" single sleeves list the track "Experiments In Vertical Take Off" , but this song was never written.

Track listings[edit]Edit

7" vinyl single[edit]Edit

  • UK: DinDisc DIN 40

Side one

  1. "Maid of Orleans (The Waltz Joan of Arc)" (Andy McCluskey) – 4:09

Side two

  1. "Navigation" (Paul Humphreys/McCluskey) – 3:26

12" vinyl single[edit]Edit

  • UK: DinDisc DIN 40-12

Side one

  1. "Maid of Orleans (The Waltz Joan of Arc)" – 4:09

Side two

  1. "Of All the Things We've Made" (Humphreys/McCluskey) – 3:31
  2. "Navigation" – 3:26

3" Mini CD single[edit]Edit

  • Virgin CDT27 released 5 December 1988
  1. "Maid of Orleans (The Waltz Joan of Arc)" (12" Version) – 4:13
  2. "Joan of Arc" (12" Version) (McCluskey) – 3:51
  3. "Navigation" – 3:30
  4. "Of All the Things We've Made" – 3:27

The sleeve erroneously states that there are 12" versions of "Maid of Orleans" and "Joan of Arc" on the CD single.

Promotional video[edit]Edit

For the promotional video, the outdoor shots were made at Brimham Rocks and Fountains Abbey near AldfieldNorth Yorkshire in December 1981 during the snowy winter and the indoor shots at The Manor Studio. The video was directed by Steve Barron and featured Julia Tobin, an actress from the Royal Shakespeare Company as Joan of Arc.[6] The promo video is included on the video version of The Best of OMD and on the bonus DVD of the 2007 reissue of Architecture & Morality.

Chart performance[edit]Edit

Chart (1982) Peak



(sales thresholds)

Austrian Singles Chart [7] 2
Belgium Singles Chart 1
Canadian RPM Singles Chart [8] 32
Dutch Singles Chart[9] 1 Gold [10]
German Media Control Charts Singles Chart[11] 1 Gold [12]
Irish Singles Chart[13] 5
New Zealand Singles Chart[14] 7
Spanish Singles Chart 1
Swiss Singles Chart [7] 4
UK Singles Chart[15] 4 BPI: Silver[16]
Preceded by

"The Land of Make Believe" by Bucks Fizz

Dutch Top 40 number-one single

13 March 1982 – 3 April 1982 (4 weeks)

Succeeded by

"Aurora" by Nova

Preceded by

"Ebony and Ivory" by Paul McCartney & Stevie Wonder

German Singles Chart number-one single

9 July 1982 – 23 July 1982 (3 weeks)

Succeeded by

"Ich will Spaß" by Markus

Preceded by

"Ich will Spaß" by Markus

German Singles Chart number-one single

6 August 1982 (1 week)

Succeeded by

"Ich will Spaß" by Markus


The cover was designed by Peter Saville, Carol Wilson and Brett Wickens and was inspired by a stained glass design by Anton Wolff.

There are several sleeve designs for the 12" version. The original sleeve design featured an embossed coin motif on a silver foil. It was only released for a limited time, because the band didn't like this design. It was replaced with a similar stained glass sleeve as the 7" version in several variations.


In 1993 Flemish band Leopold 3 scored a top 10 hit in Flanders with "Volle maan", a version of "Maid of Orleans" with Dutch lyrics.[17]

Watergate recorded a cover version of 'Maid of Orleans (The Waltz Joan of Arc)' as "Maid Of Orleans (The Battle II)" in the year 1999.[18]

Other bands have covered the song: Mila Mar in 2000,[19] Third Bass[20] in 2001, Voi feat. DJ Frost & Talla 2XLC,[21] Z-People in 1998,[22] S.O.S. in 1997[23] and many more.

In 2009, Maid of Orleans was covered by the German DJ and radio presenter "DJ Happy Vibes" as a house track.[citation needed]

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