The WANDERER (Dion song)

The Wanderer (Dion song)

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A-side “The Majestic”
Released November 1961
Format 7″ single
Rhythm and blues pop rock and roll
Length 2:51

Songwriter(s) Ernie Maresca
Producer(s) Gene Schwartz

“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 #243 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 Ebb Tides. 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 (behind “Duke of Earl” by Gene Chandler). It also reached # 10 in the UK and # 1 in Australia.

Cover versions

“The Wanderer” has been covered by many other popular singers and bands, including Bad Company (band), Status Quo, Dee Snider, Gary Glitter, The Beach Boys, Leif Garrett (US #49 in 1978), Alvin and the Chipmunks, Arthur Alexander, Bruce Springsteen, Sick City Daggers, Delbert McClinton, Ted Chippington, Dave Edmunds, The Alley Cats, Avenue D, 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 later included on the 2016 reissue of Back to Back, 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 animated movie Chicken Run.