Song Lyric Sunday – One Hit Wonder

Amy, aka E.M., has provided us with the theme for this week’s Song Lyric Sunday, and it is One Hit Wonders. The song I chose for this prompt is ‘Come On Eileen’ by Dexys Midnight Runners. I featured it back in early 2020. Although the band had a subsequent hit song with Geno in the UK, Come on Eileen is the only hit the group had here in the USA.

Our regular host, Jim Adams, is on vacation for a couple of weeks and so Song Lyric Sunday is hosted by our friend and regular participant in SLS, Fandango, from the blog This, That and the Other.

The Song

Written by Dexys lead singer Kevin Rowland, trombone player Jim Paterson and guitarist Al Archer, this song was an enormous hit, going to #1 in America, the UK and Australia.While the song will fit nicely in an ’80s music time capsule, it sounded nothing like the other hits of the era. There are no synthesizers on the song, but there is banjo, accordion, fiddle and saxophone. In a Songfacts interview with Kevin Rowland, he explained how the song came together: “We wanted a good rhythm and we found one. Lots of records we liked had that rhythm: ‘Concrete and Clay,’ ‘It’s Not Unusual’ by Tom Jones. Lots of records we liked had that ‘Bomp ba bomp, bomp ba bomp.’ We felt it was a good rhythm. We came up with the chord sequence ourselves and just started singing melodies over it. I remember thinking, ‘We’re really onto something here.

I came up with that, ‘Too ra loo ra,’ and I remember thinking, ‘Wow, this is sounding really good.’ You get a feeling when you’re writing a song. Something happens. And in the end it kind of finished itself.”

This song is based on a true story. Eileen was a girl that Kevin Rowland grew up with. Their relationship became romantic when the pair were 13, and according to Rowland, it turned sexual a year or two later.Rowland was raised Catholic and served as an altar boy in church. Sex was a taboo subject, and considered “dirty” – something that fascinated him. When he wrote this song, Rowland was expressing the feelings of that adolescent enjoying his first sexual relationship and dreaming of being free from the strictures of a buttoned-down society:

You in that dress
My thoughts I confess
Verge on dirty

The song describes the thin line between love and lust. 

Dexys Midnight Runners had no American distribution for their first album, which did very well in the UK and contained a #1 hit called “Geno.” “Come On Eileen” was their first single issued in US, and was the only American hit for the band – “The Celtic Soul Brothers” was served up as a follow-up single, but petered out at #86. Much of the US success for “Eileen” can be attributed to its video, which got constant airplay on MTV and remains one of the most memorable and beloved clips of the era.Most videos at the time were slick productions featuring impossibly pretty people in unexpected locations, but Dexys’ video was delightfully different, with the overall-clad band acting out the love story on a gritty street. Kevin Rowland doing an earnest jig became a defining image of the early MTV era. When we asked him about shooting it, he told us: “It was one day. We started at 6 in the morning, we finished very late at night. It just kind of worked.”

When this hit #1 in the US, it knocked Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean” off the top spot.

Dexys Midnight Runners released their first album, Searching for the Young Soul Rebels, in 1980. It contained the #1 UK hit “Geno” and earned the band lots of acclaim in their home country of England. For their second album Too-Rye-Ay, the group added fiddles and switched to more of an Irish folk sound. Kevin Rowland changed out every member except for Jim Paterson and also updated their image, going from a stylish, rustic Italian look to a ragged, unkempt appearance.This hillbilly theme was a great complement to their new sound and made for a striking visual. Rowland sold the look by appearing in patched-up denim offstage and insisting that it was not an act. When Smash Hits writer Dave Rimmer broached the subject in 1982, Rowland snapped: “I take deadly serious what I do. It’s very important to me to be an individual. I don’t care if people laugh. That’s what Dexys Midnight Runners is all about: showing your feelings and not giving a damn what other people think.”

The Lyrics

Come on, Eileen
Come on, Eileen

Poor old Johnny Ray sounded sad upon the radio
He moved a million hearts in mono
Our mothers cried
And sang along who'd blame them?

You've grown, so grown
Now I must say more than ever
(Come on, Eileen) Toora Loora Toora Loo-Rye Aye
And we can sing just like our fathers

Come on, Eileen, I swear (well he means)
At this moment, you mean everything
You in that dress, my thoughts I confess
Verge on dirty
Ah come on, Eileen

These people round here, wear beaten down eyes
Sunk in smoke dried faces, so resigned to what their fate is
But not us, no not us, we are far too young and clever
(Remember) Toora Loora Toora Loo-Rye-Aye
Eileen I'll hum this tune forever

Come on, Eileen, I swear, well he means
Ah come on, let's take off everything
Pretty red dress Eileen (Tell him yes)
Ah come on, let's ah come on, Eileen
Pretty red dress Eileen (Tell him yes)
Ah come on, let's, ah come on, Eileen, please

Come on, Eileen taloo-rye-aye
Come on, Eileen taloo-rye-aye
(Now you have grown, now you have shown, oh, Eileen)
Said come on, Eileen taloo-rye-aye
You've grown

So grown (Show, how you feel)
Now I must say more than ever
Things 'round here have changed
I said too-ra-loo-ra-too-ra-loo-rye-aye

Come on, Eileen, I swear (well he means)
At this moment, you mean everything
You in that dress, my thoughts I confess
Verge on dirty
Ah come on, Eileen

Come on, Eileen, I swear (well he means)
At this moment, you mean everything
You in that dress, my thoughts I confess
Well, they're dirty
Come on, Eileen
Come on, Eileen, well he means

  12 comments for “Song Lyric Sunday – One Hit Wonder

  1. July 3, 2022 at 9:46 pm

    Ooooh, thank you for sharing this!

    • Christine Bolton
      July 5, 2022 at 7:37 am

      Happy you liked it ☺️🎼

      • July 6, 2022 at 3:50 pm

        I sure did. It was wonderful.

  2. July 3, 2022 at 5:00 pm

    Such a fun song and a great one-hit wonder selection. 👍

    • Christine Bolton
      July 5, 2022 at 7:36 am

      Thank you! ☺️

  3. July 3, 2022 at 2:36 pm

    Great choice!

    • Christine Bolton
      July 3, 2022 at 3:05 pm

      Thanks Di ☺️💕

  4. July 3, 2022 at 2:22 pm

    Love this one! 🎶💖

    • Christine Bolton
      July 5, 2022 at 7:37 am

      Thanks Paula 🎶☺️

  5. July 3, 2022 at 1:09 pm

    I love this song so much Christine it always makes me dance 💜💜

    • Christine Bolton
      July 3, 2022 at 1:38 pm

      Thanks Willow, me too! Its such a happy sounding song. I must admit i never realized the lyrics were so weird. I just liked the music and the 🎶 🎼 too ra loo ra ley! ☺️💕

      • July 3, 2022 at 1:52 pm

        Yup a strange song 💜

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