Dion Tends to Wander

I’ve long ranted against advertising’s influence on society. In fact, one of my favorite sections in a Mass Media class I taught in high school many years ago was a section on advertising that was inspired by Neil Postman’s The Art of Crap Detection as advocated in his book Teaching as a Subversive Activity. We took commercials and looked at them critically, and once you did so their fallacy immediately became obvious, even to students who had absolutely no interest in being inspired by literature.

Though advertising is relatively easy to see through, I suspect that forms of media that reinforce societal stereotypes are harder to see through. As part of my nostalgia kick inspired by my 50 year high school reunion I bought some of my favorite songs from that era.

Dion was a favorite, particularly,




perhaps because it was my senior year in high school and I was in the process of breaking up with my girlfriend, though not because she was running around with someone else, as far as I knew, at least. The widespread use of this theme in the Blues and Country Western Music suggests that broken hearts are not that uncommon among menfolk. And obviously women must be to blame for that.

Strangely, though, I also bought Dion’s followup hit:


and it wasn’t until recently that I realized the irony in that. Strange that someone who’s so upset with a girl who “runs around with other guys” should take such pride in being the “wanderer.” Not sure how the Wanderer who spouts, “I kiss’em and I love’em ’cause to me they’re all the same” is any different than Runaround Sue.

Even less sure of why I didn’t see this in 1961.

3 thoughts on “Dion Tends to Wander

  1. Something else we have in common besides Scrabble. Runaround Sue is the song I learned to do the twist to and I have loved it ever since. I was in college, though.

  2. Much as I love those old songs from the radio, there is some cognitive dissonance between the exuberance of the music and message in the lyrics, isn’t there? Still, that music brought me much happiness. Made me happy to be alive! I was grateful that my name wasn’t Sue!

    In the summer of 1961, I was 11 years old and listening to Dion and the Belmonts sing “Runaround Sue” on my clock radio as I lay in my bedroom reading (Island of the Blue Dolphin, Leon Uris’ Exodus and the Narnia series come to mind) for a good part of the hot summer days in Northern California near San Francisco. I loved rock and roll music and watched American Bandstand on television. No one ever asked me to dance except the kind boy who lived across the street and who turned out to be gay. I was shy and never had a boyfriend until I met Richard in my senior year in high school.

    I’m sure that “He’s A Rebel” by the Crystals from the early 1960s had a whole lot to do with my initial attraction to Richard when we were both 17. Music is powerful, isn’t it?

  3. YouTube is wonderful. I never saw these bands play when I was listening to them on the radio or my portable phonograph. I’d forgotten how much I loved ‘The Wanderer’. Thanks for the memory.

What do you think?