Sunday, February 12, 2012

Songs #117, 118 & 119 of 9999: Let's Catch Up!

Song #117 of 9999                                 Song #118 of 9999                                  Song #119 of 9999
Title: Runaway                                        Title: Runaround Sue                              Title:Travelin' Man
Artist: Del Shannon                                 Artist: Dion                                              Artist: Ricky Nelson
Year: 1961                                               Year: 1961                                              Year: 1961
Album: Runaway                                     Album: Runaround Sue                          Album: Rick is 21

I kind of short-changed 1961 a little bit by having a terribly busy weekend and ignoring my blog for two days. So I decided to end the week with a triple play, featuring three number one singles all dealing with some variation on running in the context of a love song.

"Runaway" by Del Shannon is perhaps the most virtuous of the three as the befuddled protagonist sings of missing his girl while hopelessly trying to figure out what went wrong in their relationship. He even shows concern for where she will be staying! How sweet. I think this song is cool for two reasons: 1) the minor key verse shifts seamlessly to the parallel major for the chorus; and 2) the descending falsetto vocal line ("why why why why why") that mimics crying. Genius.

In "Runaround Sue," Dion unselfishly warns future suitors of Sue (Suetors?) to be careful because Sue is a little bit of a....well, she likes a lot of guys. Yet, his love for her "still grows" so perhaps he has some issues of his own to work out. Most people probably like this song for the singalong backing vocals, but I just really like the rasp in this guys voice. There's a lot of character there.

It is terrible, of course, for a woman to run around with so many guys, but a man? No problem! As long as he is polite enough to keep some distance between them. Ricky Nelson has girls in Mexico, Alaska, Hong Kong, Berlin, Hawaii—the guy's a player. But it's okay because he's a travelin' man and that's what travelin' men do. Travelin' women? Why there's no such thing of course! After all, if women traveled, who would Ricky Nelson f*** when he's in town?

And thus ends 1961. See you tomorrow.

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