One Hit Wonders: Dexys Midnight Runners

Come on Eileen by Dexys Midnight Runners

by Robert Mishou

We end the One Hit Wonders mix tape with another international hit – it reached the top ten in no fewer than fifteen countries, including #1 on the AT40 in April of 1983. I will be the first (of what should be many) to admit that I really had no idea what the lyrics to this song were when I was a fourteen. I could understand the first line “Poor old Johnny Ray” (it was written on the video) and the chorus was rather intelligible, but the rest of the song remained a mystery as I sang nonsensical lyrics that sounded close to what I was hearing. Since the invention of the internet and all of this useless information at our fingertips, I have frequently searched for and found the elusive lyrics to this hit (in fact, I am looking at them right now). As the chorus suggests, the song is a plea – a plea for Eileen to “come on” and go along with the song’s speaker. He fully admits to being smitten with Eileen, emotionally, as well as physically, “You in that dress, my thoughts I confess / Verge on dirty.” He later implores her sense of youth and not settling for the mundane as most people do:

These people ‘round here
Wear beat down eyes sunk in smoke dried faces
They’re resigned to what their fate is
But not us (no never), no not us (no never)
We are far too young and clever

He begs and pleads – and we all hope, for him, that he is successful. The video suggests that they are. Despite lyrics that are nearly impossible to discern, this song endures. “Come on Eileen” can be frequently heard on any station that plays ‘80s music. VH1 recognizes the brilliance of this song by ranking it as the #1 greatest One Hit Wonder from the ‘80s – I can’t disagree.

There you have twenty shooting stars – songs that hit and then disappeared – bright lights that quickly faded. Some are still heard on stations that feature ‘80s music and some have been forgotten. Regardless of future successes, the songs by these artists touched us briefly and left an indelible mark on our hearts and ears. These songs may be in the discount bin now, but at one time they ruled the airwaves and I, for one, will never let them go.

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