Poor old Johnnie Ray

There’s something sad about hearing songs you once knew as a younger person on the “oldies” station. But then again, it can bring back memories that not everyone has. It’s a sign of longevity, even.

I heard Dexy’s Midnight Runners’ “Come on Eileen” on such a station this evening, and a funny thought occurred to me. The song made it all the way to the top of the charts in America, and it has the distinction of being the break in between Michael Jackson’s two huge hits from Thriller: “Billie Jean” preceded it at the top spot, and “Beat It” came after it. It was as if America cleansed its musical palate with a little Celtic ditty, if only for a too brief moment.

People call Dexy’s–which is what they go by nowadays–a one-hit wonder. The Simpsons once took a shot at them, when Homer blurted out “You’ll be hearing a lot more from them!” in an early 80s flashback sequence. Of course, we didn’t hear anything more from them.

But the band has reformed in recent years, and every night, as far as the eye can see, somebody somewhere will come out to hear them perform “Come on Eileen.” And the guy who bookended their lone hit record with two far more popular tunes? The guy who was the biggest force in music, and a global phenomenon like none of us will ever see again?  Where is he playing nowadays? Perhaps this longevity thing isn’t so bad, after all.

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