Monday, May 20, 2013

Come On Eileen by Dexy’s Midnight Runners

The year I was born was a crazy year in music. There was Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’,” “Working for the Weekend” by Loverboy, and Willie Nelson’s “Always On My Mind” (I’ve written about all of these songs, just click on the song title.” These three songs have maintained status in pop culture in film and television commercials (Soprano’s, Zoolander, jeans commercials).

One song that really deserves a resurgence in pop culture is one of my favorite songs from my birth year “Come On Eileen.”

There’s so much that is weird about this song in such an awesome way. First off, Dexy’s Midnight Runners is named after the drug Dexedrine, and midnight running was the idea about dancing all night when using that drug. With this kind of band name you expect some kind of club, synthesized dance music. Instead you get a unique folk-inspired song, full of heart.

This song doesn’t really sound anything like the other songs that came out that I mentioned earlier in this post. Well none of those songs sound at all like each other which is one year 1982 was such an incredible year in music. “Come On Elieen,” has musical allusions throughout its structure from the opening violin playing the irish folk song “Believe Me, If All Those Endearing Young Charms,” to mentioning of Johnnie Ray a 1950s singer-songwriter.

“Come On Eileen” kicks in with a myriad of instrument including a piano, accordion, trombone and saxophones and violins. Nothing about the groove feels like something that would chart on a the U.S. Billboard charts but it became a number 1 hit, sandwiched between “Billie Jean” and “Beat It,” by Michael Jackson.

The lyrics are often misunderstood.  Even when I follow along with them its still hard to understand what is being sung. Basically it’s a reflection on the previous generation and being amazed at how much this girl Eileen has grown up. The chorus, which I grew up thinking, was:
At this moment,
take off everything,
You in that fress
Oh, it falls on your breast,
Oh you’re dirty,
Oh, come on Eileen
Is actually a much sweater sentiment:
At this moment you mean everything,
You in that dress,
My thoughts I confess,
Verge on dirty ,
Oh, come on Eileen
There’s an amazing and sudden change in the groove into the chorus that happens with a shift in the meter dropping two beats that you expect to hear. Then there’s one of the most unusual musical devices in pop music an accelerando. Pop songs rarely speed up and slow down. There’s only a handful of examples when this happens. The moment when “Come On Eileen,” slows down and slowly grinds ups up makes you feel like you are hearing a live recording of the band.

I remember dancing to this song in college, twenty years after it came out and feeling the dance floor slow down and pick up towards the end of this song. It’s really a beautiful musical moment that is rarely experienced in pop music.

“Come On Eileen,” is a beautiful song with so much spirit and heart. There’s a reverence to the past in its words and music and also an innocence that makes this song shine like the  smile of a close friend.

Let’s bring this song back to the center of pop culture. It’s well-deserving of the attention and primed for a new generation to misinterpret the lyrics as they dance along to the sweet sounds of Too-ra-loo-rye-aye.

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