The Wanderer (Dion song)

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"The Wanderer"
Single by Dion
from the album Runaround Sue
B-side "The Majestic"
Released November 1961
Genre Rock and roll
Length 2:51
Label Laurie Records 3115
Writer(s) Ernie Maresca
Producer(s) Gene Schwartz
Dion singles chronology
"Runaround Sue"
"The Wanderer"
"Lovers Who Wander"

"The Wanderer" is a song written by Ernie Maresca and originally recorded by Dion. The song, with a 12-bar blues-base verse and an eight-bar bridge, tells the story of a travelling man and his many loves. The song is ranked #239 on the Rolling Stone magazine's list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.


Maresca had co-written Dion's previous # 1 hit, "Runaround Sue", but originally intended "The Wanderer" to be recorded by another group, Nino and the Ebbtides. They passed on it in favour of another Maresca song, so Dion was given it as the B-side of his follow-up single, "The Majestic", a song which his record company had chosen for him. The record was turned over by radio DJs who preferred "The Wanderer", which duly entered the US charts in December 1961 and rose to # 2 in early 1962. It also reached # 10 in the UK and # 1 in Australia.

The song was recorded with an uncredited background vocal group, the Del-Satins, in a rockier style than Dion's earlier hits with the Belmonts. The Del-Satins were an established doo-wop group led by Stan Ziska (later known as Stan Sommers), who at the time were also contracted to Laurie Records, and who later formed the core of Johnny Maestro & the Brooklyn Bridge. Musicians on the original recording included Bobby Gregg, Bucky Pizarelli and Johnny Falbo on guitars, Jerome Richardson on alto sax, Buddy Lucas on tenor sax, and Panama Francis and Sticks Evans on drums.[citation needed]

Dion said of "The Wanderer":[1]

At its roots, it's more than meets the eye. "The Wanderer" is black music filtered through an Italian neighborhood that comes out with an attitude. It's my perception of a lot of songs like "I'm A Man" by Bo Diddley or "Hoochie Coochie Man" by Muddy Waters. But you know, "The Wanderer" is really a sad song. A lot of guys don't understand that. Bruce Springsteen was the only guy who accurately expressed what that song was about. It's "I roam from town to town and go through life without a care, I'm as happy as a clown with my two fists of iron, but I'm going nowhere." In the fifties, you didn't get that dark. It sounds like a lot of fun but it's about going nowhere.

However, on Maresca's original demo of the song, the lyrics were "with my two fists of iron and my bottle of beer", and the change to "with my two fists of iron but I'm going nowhere" in fact seems to have been at the record company's insistence. [2]

Today, "The Wanderer" is part of the Mijac publishing catalog.

Cover versions[edit]

"The Wanderer"
Single by Eddie Rabbitt
from the album I Wanna Dance with You
B-side Workin' Out
Released April 1988
Format 7"
Recorded December 1987
Genre Country
Length 3:22
Label RCA Nashville
Writer(s) Ernie Maresca
Producer(s) Richard Landis
Eddie Rabbitt singles chronology
"I Wanna Dance with You"
"The Wanderer"
"We Must Be Doin' Somethin' Right"

"The Wanderer" has been covered by many other popular singers and bands, including Status Quo, Dee Snider, Gary Glitter, The Beach Boys, Leif Garrett, Alvin and the Chipmunks, Arthur Alexander, Bruce Springsteen, Eddie Rabbitt, Sick City Daggers, Delbert McClinton, Ted Chippington, Dave Edmunds, The Alley Cats, Avenue D, punk rock pioneers The Heimlich Experiment, by My Morning Jacket at Madison Square Garden on 31 December 2008 and more recently by Laurence Collyer/The Diamond Family Archive. Status Quo covered the song twice, once as a complete version, and once again as part of their Anniversary Waltz, Pt. 1. Status Quo's version was a #7 hit in the U.K. in 1984, and Rabbitt's version was a Number One hit on Billboard's Hot Country Singles & Tracks chart in mid-1988. Mel Gibson sings a version in the animation movie Chicken Run.

The Portuguese version by Renato e Seus Blue Caps & Erasmo Carlos was a huge hit in Brazil in the 1960s, changing the title to "O Lobo Mau" (which translates as "The Big Bad Wolf"). The "Big Bad Wolf" in the Portuguese lyrics is somewhat like the wanderer, riding in his car and getting all the girls. Another cover version can be found on Kidsongs video and DVD, "A Day with the Animals".

In addition, the song is played before all Bolton Wanderers and Western Sydney Wanderers home matches.

In Brian Azzarello's Watchmen prequel comic Comedian, "The Wanderer" is featured twice, in small but pivotal scenes.

In the Showcase series Lost Girl, the song features prominently and repeatedly in seasons 3 and 4 as a callout to a character referred to by the same name, including an arrangement performed by merry-go-round instrumentation.

Chart positions[edit]


Chart (1961) Peak
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 2

Eddie Rabbitt[edit]

Chart (1988) Peak
U.S. Billboard Hot Country Singles[1] 1
Canadian RPM Country Tracks 1
Preceded by
"The Bluest Eyes in Texas"
by Restless Heart
Billboard Hot Country Singles
number-one single

August 27, 1988
Succeeded by
"I Couldn't Leave You If I Tried"
by Rodney Crowell
Preceded by
"Don't We All Have the Right"
by Ricky Van Shelton
RPM Country Tracks
number-one single

August 13-August 20, 1988
Succeeded by
"Give a Little Love"
by The Judds

See also[edit]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). The Billboard Book Of Top 40 Country Hits: 1944-2006, Second edition. Record Research. p. 279.