A Musical Ethics Quiz: “The Wanderer”

Here is Dion’s signature hit, 1961’s “The Wanderer”…

The song is ranked #243 on the Rolling Stone magazine’s list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.The lyrics (the song was written by Ernie Maresca) , for those of you who are lyrically challenged, are as follows…

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

They call me the wanderer
Yeah, the wanderer
I roam around, around, around

Oh well, there’s Flo on my left and then there’s Mary on my right
And Janie is the girl well that I’ll be with tonight
And when she asks me, which one I love the best?
I tear open my shirt and I show “Rosie” on my chest

Cause I’m the wanderer
Yeah, the wanderer
I roam around, around, around

Oh well, I roam from town to town
I go through life without a care
And I’m as happy as a clown
I with my two fists of iron but I’m going nowhere..

Oh yeah, I’m the type of guy that likes to roam around
I’m never in one place, I roam from town to town
And when I find myself a-fallin’ for some girl
Yeah, I hop right into that car of mine and drive around the world

Yeah I’m the wanderer
Yeah, the wanderer
I roam around, around, around

Oh yeah, I’m the type of guy that likes to roam around
I’m never in one place, I roam from town to town
And when I find myself a-fallin’ for some girl
I hop right into that car of mine and drive around the world

Yeah, cause I’m a wanderer
Yeah, a wanderer
I roam around, around, around, around, around, around
Cause I’m a wanderer
Yeah, a wanderer
I roam around, around, around, around, around, around, around
Cause I’m a wanderer
I’m, a wanderer
I roam around, around, around, around..

Dion, needless to say, is a bad boy; in fact, he sound like a pussy-grabber to me. The song is played fairly frequently on oldies channels. Would it be unethical to play it or sing it in a concert today? If so, how is different from current hip-hop lyrics that celebrate similar conduct?

Your musical Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz of the Day is this woke-ness test:

Should “The Wanderer” and similar songs be considered as culturally inappropriate today as minstrel songs?

Here’s a poll:

18 Comments

Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Gender and Sex, History, Romance and Relationships, U.S. Society

18 responses to “A Musical Ethics Quiz: “The Wanderer”

  1. charlesgreen

    Ah ha ha ha this should be good!

    • Do you know that as much as I love Dion, every time I have heard this song, from the very beginning, decades ago, my reaction was “What an asshole!”

      And maybe that was the intent. Dion has said that the song was about the kind of bad boy that women were somehow drawn to—isn’t that a legitimate subject for a song?

      • charlesgreen

        “isn’t that a legitimate subject for a song?”
        I think it is. If it’s not, then wouldn’t it similarly be wrong for an actor to act out a ‘bad boy’ role in the movies?
        A great example of the slippery slope of PC and ethics when it gets applied to art.
        I guess I’m coming down on “it’s a song,” as an answer. Who’s to say you can’t write a song about bad boys? And if it’s said in the first person, well what’s wrong with that mode of story-telling?

    • charlesgreen wrote, “Ah ha ha ha this should be good!”

      I was just about to post the exact same thing!

  2. Chris Marschner

    The lyrics suggest that the females are aware of his behavior and therefore accept it.

    There are many songs with lyrics that can be considered abhorent by the perpetually offended. Nothing in the song suggests that Dion advocates other should behave similarly.

    Where exactly does Van Halen’s Hot for the Teacher fit in to this question – Naked Teacher Principle?

    • ”Where exactly does Van Halen’s Hot for the Teacher fit in to this question”

      Not yet woke?

      Anywho, I’ve had me some real, and reoccurring, “Hot For The Teacher” moments, for which I’ll never apologize.

      Along those lines? Bobby Goldsboro’s “Summer (The First Time)” which debuted the same year I exhausted my HS eligibility.

  3. Joe Fowler

    In all fairness, Dion saw both sides of this:

    Here’s my story, it’s sad but true
    It’s about a girl that I once knew
    She took my love then ran around
    With every single guy in town
    Yeah I should have known it from the very start
    This girl will leave me with a broken heart
    Now listen people what I’m telling you
    A keep away from a Runaround Sue
    I might miss her lips and the smile on her face
    The touch of her hair and this girl’s warm embrace
    So if you don’t want to cry like I do
    A keep away from-a Runaround Sue
    Ah, she likes to travel around
    She’ll love you and she’ll put you down
    Now people let me put you wise
    Sue goes out with other guys
    Here’s the moral and the story from the guy who knows
    I fell in love and my love still grows
    Ask any fool that she ever knew, they’ll say
    Keep away from-a Runaround Sue
    Yeah keep away from this girl
    I don’t know what she’ll doe
    Keep away from Sue
    She likes to travel around
    She’ll love you and she’ll put you down
    Now people let me put you wise
    She goes out with other guys
    Here’s the moral and the story from the guy who knows
    I fell in love and my love still grows
    Ask any fool that she ever knew, they’ll say
    Keep away from a Runaround Sue
    Stay away from that girl
    Don’t you know what she’ll do now

    • charlesgreen

      Reminds me of a gorgeous song by Nils Lofgren, “Baby’s in the Black Books Now,” which was picked up for a Sopranos episode, bemoaning a more modern “runaround Sue.” Similarly anti-today’s-culture, but that would never have occurred to me outside this blog thread.

  4. Isaac

    And then my generation upped the ante and produced Mambo No. 5. But that one’s not in danger of landing on any Top 500 lists.

  5. I admit I had trouble deciding which NO to pick. Mocking PC won.

  6. Steve-O-in-NJ

    How about the ethics of playing WW2 songs? Is it OK to play “Der Fuhrer’s Face” or “We’re Gonna Have to Slap the Dirty Little Jap,” or is it only OK to use them in context of a reenactor event or something like that?

  7. William Gauci

    Coincidentally I stumbled across an article along this theme recently.

    https://spinditty.com/playlists/Popular-Songs-That-Absolutely-Wouldnt-Fly-Today

    There are some real bad ones in there, including John Lennon singing about abusing his partners. Imagine that. (Pun intended.) The Beatles have a number of songs that wouldn’t be acceptable today.

    Oh and who can forget Randy Newman’s greatest hit Short People.

    • Joe Fowler

      Randy Newman’s ability to satirize and skewer is a rare thing indeed.
      Here’s his first verse from “My Life is Good”, which is about some folks he knows in Hollywood:
      A couple weeks ago
      My wife and I
      Took a little trip down to
      Mexico
      Met this young girl there
      We brought her back with us
      Now she lives with us
      In our home
      She cleans the hallway
      She cleans the stair
      She cleans the living room
      She wipes the baby’s ass
      She drives the kids to school
      She does the laundry too
      She wrote this song for me
      Listen
      Yeah

    • luckyesteeyoreman

      Second try…ahhh, nice to know that SOME things NEVER change!

      My poll answer was “Gee, can I sing it to myself, Big Brother?”

      One song I have heard fairly often lately on one radio station is George Thorogood’s “Bad to the Bone.” I enjoy the song, even though it contains the following nonsense (I use ellipses…to try to illustrate the blues-y phrasing…and to highlight the absurdity of the train of thought…):

      I broke a thousand hearts…before I met you…
      I’ll break a thousand more, baby…before I am through…
      I wanna be yours, pretty baby – yours and yours alone…
      I’m here to tell ya honey…that I’m bad to the bone…

      Doesn’t EVERY girl want a guy who talks to her like that?

      The same station plays “Money” by Pink Floyd, and leaves the “shit” out of the “bullshit” at the end of one the song’s phrases, so you just hear “bull…” Annoying! But wait, there’s more: When they play the Eagles’ “Life in the Fast Lane” – “…been up and down this highway, haven’t seen a [cut/silent]-damned thing” (and that, AFTER they play “…lines on the mirror…lines on her face…”). Go figure: Do take the drugs, but don’t curse God. But the most annoying is when the station plays “Money For Nothing” by Dire Straits; “…that little [cut/silent; “f-word” for a homosexual] is a millionaire…” (along with a couple other cuts-to-silence). Despite all that annoyance, I stick with that station, because it plays haunting tunes like this – I dare believe even Jack can relate well with much of this:

  8. PennAgain

    And here’s the girl The Wanderer was looking for – from “T’aint Nobody’s Biz-ness If I Do” first recorded 1922, latest hit on the charts 1990, a few of verses, Bessie Smith version (lyrics now in public domain), fodder for the feminist mob:

    If my man ain’t got no money
    And I say “take all mine, honey”
    ‘t ain’t nobody’s bizness if I do, do, do do
    If I give him my last nickel
    And it leaves me in a pickle
    t’aint . . .
    ———————————–
    I’d rather my man would hit me
    Than to jump right up and quit me
    t’aint . . .
    I swear I won’t call no copper
    If I’m beat up by my poppa
    ‘t’aint . . .

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