Dexy Midnight Runners – Geno

The only song I knew from Dexy Midnight Runners was Come On Eileen but UK #1s Blog (Check him out if you haven’t already) featured this #1 UK song from 1980. I have been listening to it ever since.

This song is about Geno Washington, a US Soul singer the band admired. Geno Washington was not huge in America but was popular in the UK.

There is a reason that America never heard the single. This was the second Dexys Midnight Runners single released in the UK, and it shot to #1 on the chart, becoming a crowd favorite along the way. They had no distribution in America, so the song wasn’t heard in the US.

They would soon be heard in the US with Come On Eileen. Kevin Archer, Kevin Rowland wrote the song and it peaked at #1 in the UK in 1980.

Dexys frontman Kevin Rowland was originally in a punk band called The Killjoys with guitarist Kevin “Al” Archer. Rowland had an idea to form a big soul band with a brass section and he founded Dexy’s Midnight Runners in 1978 in Birmingham, England with Archer. They took their name from Dexedrine…. a pep pill favored by ’60 mods.

Kevin Rowland : “I saw Geno Washington in 68 at the Railway Hotel in Harrow. I was 15 years old and out with all the older kids – you had to be 18 to get in – short-haired, cool-looking mods-turning-into-skinhead types. Looking back, it’s probably not the best gig I’ve ever been to, but I didn’t have anything to compare it to.”

From Songfacts

As Dexys Midnight Runners were on the upswing, packing club shows and getting positive press, Washington’s career had faded, and the once-revered singer found himself on the cabaret circuit. “Geno,” which was written by Dexys lead singer Kevin Rowland and guitarist Al Archer, is a tribute to Washington and also a look at the cyclical nature of entertainment.

Dexys Midnight Runners made their mark by adding their distinctive Celtic flavor to Soul music. They championed artists like Washington and did covers of songs by Sam And Dave, Aretha Franklin and the lesser-known Zoot Money. “Soul” was part of Rowland’s stage patter (“our hearts are full of soul…”), as he made it clear where their musical roots had grown.

On the band’s second album, they had a hit with a cover of “Jackie Wilson Said,” which was Van Morrison’s tribute to another Soul singer.ne.

Rowland told The Guardian that the lyrics are all true. He recalled: 

The video features plenty of scenes running around alleyways and jumping over railway station ticket barriers. Al Archer told Mojo: “We did all those things. It wasn’t any kind of gimmick, we did actually bunk the trains and all that.”

Geno

Geno, Geno, Geno, Geno, Geno!
Geno, Geno, Geno, Geno, Geno!
Geno, Geno, Geno, Geno, Geno!

Back in ’68 in a sweaty club
(Oh, Geno)
Before Jimmy’s Machine and The Rocksteady Rub
(Oh, Geno)
On a night when flowers didn’t suit my shoes
After a week of flunkin’ and bunkin’ school
The lowest head in the crowd that night
Just practicin’ steps and keepin’ outta the fights

Academic inspiration, you gave me none
But you were Michael the lover
The fighter that won
But now just look at me as I’m looking down at you
No, I’m not bein’ flash, It’s what I’m built to do

That man took the stage, his towel was swingin’ high
(Oh Geno)
This man was my bombers, my Dexy’s, my high
(Oh, Geno)
How the crowd, they all hailed you, and chanted your name
But they never knew like we knew
Me and you were the same
And now you’re all over, your song is so tame, brrr
You fed me, you bred me, I’ll remember your name

Academic inspiration, you gave me none
But you were Michael the lover
The fighter that won
But now just look at me as I’m looking down at you
No, I’m not bein’ flash, It’s what I’m built to do

Oh, Geno
(Oh, Geno)
Oh, Geno
(Oh, Geno)

Dexy’s Midnight Runners – Come On Eileen

This was a very enjoyable song by Dexy’s Midnight Runners. It was very different than what was on the radio at the time. It was released in 1982 and peaked at #1 in the Billboard 100, #1 in the UK Charts, and #2 in Canada. The song was written by lead singer Kevin Rowland.

I really thought this band would score another hit but they ended up a one hit wonder…one thing that didn’t help was when they were opening up for David Bowie in France, Kevin Rowland called Bowie a bad copy of Bryan Ferry and later he told the British press: “We only agreed to the show because France is an important market for us – not because I have any respect for Bowie”… Not a smart thing to do.

From Songfacts.

This song is based on a true story. Eileen was a girl that Kevin Rowland grew up with. Their relationship became romantic when the pair were 13, and according to Rowland, it turned sexual a year or two later.

Rowland was raised Catholic and served as an altar boy in church. Sex was a taboo subject, and considered “dirty” – something that fascinated him. When he wrote this song, Rowland was expressing the feelings of that adolescent enjoying his first sexual relationship and dreaming of being free from the strictures of a buttoned-down society:

You in that dress
My thoughts I confess
Verge on dirty

The song describes the thin line between love and lust.

 

“Come On Eileen”

Come on Eileen

Come on Eileen

Poor old Johnnie Ray
Sounded sad upon the radio
But he moved a million hearts in mono
Our mothers cried
Sang along
Who’d blame them?

You’ve grown (you’re grown up)
So grown (so grown up).
Now I must say more than ever

Come on Eileen

Too-ra-loo-ra, too-ra-loo-rye, aye
And we can sing just like our fathers

Come on Eileen
Oh, I swear (what he means)
At this moment you mean everything
You in that dress
My thoughts I confess
Verge on dirty
Oh, come on Eileen

Come on Eileen

These people ’round here
Wear beaten-down eyes sunk in smoke-dried faces
They’re so resigned to what their fate is

But not us (no, never)
No, not us (no, never)
We are far too young and clever
Remember

Too-ra-loo-ra, too-ra-loo-rye, aye
Eileen I’ll hum this tune forever

Come on Eileen
Oh, I swear what (what he means)
Ah, come on let’s take off everything
Pretty red dress
Eileen (tell him yes)
Ah, come on let’s
Ah, come on Eileen

Pretty red dress
Eileen (tell him yes)
Ah, come on let’s
Ah, come on Eileen, please

Come on Eileen, too-loo-rye-aye
Come on Eileen, too-loo-rye-aye
Now you’re all grown
Now you have shown
Oh, Eileen

Say, come on Eileen
These things they are real
And I know how you feel
Now I must say more than ever
Things ’round here have changed

I say, too-ra-loo-ra, too-ra-loo-rye-aye

Come on Eileen
Oh, I swear (what he means)
At this moment you mean everything
You in that dress,
My thoughts I confess
Verge on dirty
Ah, come on Eileen

Ah, come on Eileen
Oh, I swear (what he means)
At this moment you mean everything
You in that dress,
My thoughts I confess
Well, they’re dirty
Come on Eileen

Come on Eileen