The Wanderer
by Dion

Album: King of the New York Streets (1961)
Charted: 10 2

Songfacts®:

  • In this song Dion is warning Flo, Jane and Mary to stay clear of The Wanderer. Dion told Rolling Stone magazine in 1976: "You say to a chick, 'Stay away from that guy. And she would say, 'What guy?' Chicks loved a rebel."
  • Dion recalled in Mojo magazine March 2008: "I was trying to do what they (his record label) wanted me to do. It was the times, you know? You could say 'The Wanderer' is my little white version of 'I'm A Man.' I saw Bo Diddley do 'I'm A Man' and he had this big belt buckle and I thought, I gotta get a song like that, so I did 'The Wanderer.' But if you listen to the lyric, it's really a sad song, and it actually turns in on itself, because it says 'I roam from town to town/I go through life without a care/I wave my two fists of iron/but I'm goin' nowhere.' You've got a thin veneer of what a man is. The guy's goin' to hell, but he's having a lot of fun doin' it."
  • Dion told Blueswax in 2009: "The other inspiration was a little bit of "Kansas City," because that song was popular at the time and I loved it. The big inspiration was this kid in the neighborhood... I think his name was Jackie Burns. He was a sailor and he had tattoos all over him, like he had 'Flo' on his left arm, 'Mary' on his right. Janie was the girl that he was going to be with the next night and then he put 'Rosie' on his chest and he had it covered up with a battleship. Every time he went out with a girl, he got a new tattoo. So the guy was worth a song!"
  • Among the notable covers are ones by The Beach Boys on Beach Boys Concert in 1964, Donna Summer in 1980 (#3 in the US, #48 in UK), Status Quo in 1984 (#7 in UK), and Eddie Rabbitt in 1988 (#1 in the Hot Country Singles chart).
  • "The Wanderer" featured in the films The Wanderers (1979) and Behind Enemy Lines (2001).
  • Another inspiration was Ruggero Leoncavallo's 1893 opera Pagliacci, which recounts the tragedy of a jealous husband in a commedia dell'arte troupe. Dion told Spinner in a 2012 interview: "It's a deeper song than people think. Those lyrics: '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 and I'm going nowhere.' That's not just some throwaway song. There's a lot more going on than you might think. I used an image from Pagliacci. My grandfather took me to that opera as a kid and that inspired the song."

Comments: 9

  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyPer: http://www.oldiesmusic.com/news.htm {07-17-2017}
    Dion DiMucci filed suit on July 2nd, 2017 against the makers of the video game "Fallout 4" for using his tune "The Wanderer" in ads in violation of their agreement to allow him right of refusal. Dion called the ads "repugnant and morally indefensible" and is seeking that his music be removed and he be awarded one million dollars...
    Dion Francis DiMucci will celebrate his 78th birthday tomorrow on July 18th, 2017.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyPer: http://www.oldiesmusic.com/news.htm
    Songwriter and performer Ernie Maresca passed away Saturday (July 11th, 2015) at the age of 76 at his home in South Florida...
    The Bronx native started out singing baritone in the Regents (before they recorded "Barbara Ann") and came to the attention of Dion DiMucci, who recorded his composition, "No One Knows" (#19-1958) with the Belmonts...
    Dion had heard Ernie's demo of the tune on a local pool room jukebox...
    Ernie continued to write for Dion's solo career, including such hits as "Runaround Sue" (#1-1961-- composed with Dion), "The Wanderer" (#2-1961 though Ernie's original lyrics read "with my two fists of iron and my bottle of beer"), "Lovers Who Wander" (#3-1962) and "Donna The Prima Donna" (#6-1963)... In 1962, Ernie himself was signed to Seville Records, where his composition, "Shout! Shout! (Knock Yourself Out)" reached #6-- his only appearance as a performer on the charts...
    He also composed Bernadette Carroll's "Party Girl" (#47-1964) and Reparata & the Delron's "Whenever A Teenager Cries" (#60-1965). He later handled publishing for Laurie Records and eventually negotiated the sale of the company to Capitol Records...
    May he R.I.P.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn December 4th, 1961 "The Wanderer" by Dion entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart; and on February 18th, 1962 it peaked at #2 (for 1 week) and stayed on the Top 100 for 18 weeks...
    It was kept out of the top spot by "The Duke of Earl" by Gene Chandler...
    On March 31st, 1962 it reached #1 (for 1 week) on the Australian Kent Music Report chart and hit #10 in the United Kingdom...
    Was composed by Ernie Maresca, and in 1962 he also had a Top 10 hit with "Shout! Shout! (Knock Yourself Out)", it reached #6 on May 13th, 1962...
    Dion, born Dion Francis DiMucci, will celebrate his 75th birthday come next July 18th, 2014.
  • Elmer H from Westville, Ok"The Wanderer" was such a big hit in spring 1962 & I still love it. Dion was & still is an incredible star & musician who influenced many other later rock artists by his career. When this hit topped the charts, I was in grade school, but I loved rock & roll and R&B in the early Sixties. Now, I've got one of Dion's hits compilation CDs that shows his incredible talents. Oh yes, I've gotta agree with Bubbles K about Dion's hit "Ruby Baby." It was such a significant hit that SongFacts.com should post a site for it as well. Wasn't it originally an old Drifter's song from The Fifties? It and "The Wanderer" share the same brassy and earthy "attitude."
  • Bubblesk from Memphis, TnI always thought this song was cool and tough back in 1962 when I was in high school. I know it was a big hit for Dion that year. Dion was very big in those times. But I preferred Dion's hit from '63, "Ruby Baby" over all of his hits because it just had a gutsy feeling & arrangement to it. "The Wanderer" was "in your face." Like an anthem for the teens of that time. Then "Ruby Baby" came along & was even more popular. "Ruby Baby" should've been listed in Dion's hits by Song Facts.
  • Dan from Brisbane, AustraliaStatus Quo do a great cover of The Wanderer (Whatever You Want: The Very Best Of Status Quo).
  • Alan from Sault Ste. Marie, OnI believe this song was written by Ernie Maresca. He also recored a great party tune called Shout! Shout! Knock Yourself Out in '61 or '62.
  • Pierre from Chelsea, Quebec, CanadaGreat stuff by an imperishable artist. One of the best, and maybe the last one from his generation.
    Un grand bonhomme, un performer extraordnaire. Je suis encore tout triste d'avoir manqué son spectacle en 1969, à Ottawa, dans une boîte appelée LE HIBOU...
  • Cyberpope from Richmond, CanadaI just rewrote this song as a poker parody, called the Laundereer -- of a guy who's always folding. . .

    Now to find someone with a small band. . .

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