Runaround Sue


Band: Dion
Album: Runaround Sue
Best song: “The Wanderer.” It is awesome. “Kansas City” is always done well, and Dion’s got a nice voice to do it.
Worst song: The version of “Little Star” is kind of awful.

I’ve written about his before (recently), but I’ll try to take a different approach this time. Like most people, my music tastes wax and wain, but instead of the pre-Internet/pre-Last.fm days, I have a vague recording of what music I’ve enjoyed since the technology has been available.

I’ve been on Last.fm for a while, so the last six(ish) years of my musical life is easily found. Again, I’ve written about the things I rode hard a few years ago that I’ve mostly forgotten — Pinback, maybe the Meat Puppets, etc. — but the biggest treasure trove comes later in the library. You know, the kind of artists that only have 20-50 plays in my library. Some of these artists are hilarious — was I really into Lil’ Kim for a bit? — and some are recent — I’ve been listening to a lot of Reverie Sound Revue lately. Some are just strange.

Enter Dion.

Dion falls on page 27 of my all-time most-listened artists, mostly because I adore the song “The Wanderer.” Released in 1961, it makes me wonder how it wasn’t the biggest deal in the entire world in its time.

(It should ne noted that Dion’s time and my time are about as far apart as times can get. Dion was born before WWII; I was born in 1981. My life revolves around the Internet and I’m about 85% sure Dion doesn’t even know there is an Internet. My knowledge of his time is mostly culled from TV, my parents — who were kids at the time –and movies. So, take that for what it’s worth.)

I can only assume “The Wanderer” is about a man with an STD. Honestly, it’s “Mambo No. 5,” only earlier and not sucky. This philanderer is… Well, let’s take a gander at the song’s first verse:

Oh well, I’m the type of guy who will never settle down
Where pretty girls are well, you know that I’m around
I kiss ’em and I love ’em ’cause to me they’re all the same
I hug ’em and I squeeze ’em they don’t even know my name.

Like. Wow (I’m assuming  “hugging and squeezing” are something far more sexual). Though he later names a few names — Mary, Flo, Rosie, etc. — the song’s narrator has no interest in caring about these ladies. I imagine he calls them “broads.”

How was this not the world’s biggest deal in 1961? Lest we forget, the birth control pill was approved in 1960, so unless it went off like crazy — and, again, I’m not an expert on the early 1960s, but I assume it wasn’t widespread immediately after being approved — I have a feeling Dion was making lots of little Dions with Rosie and Flo and Mary.

Condom use was less so in the 1960s than it was, post-AIDS outbreaks, so the more likely idea is that Dion was, essentially, a petri dish. Dion is suggesting that he’s sexing up any woman who’ll let him.

And, really, this is the guy who was with “Runaround Sue,” also. So, I have to think she was carrying something. At least herpes.

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