"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.[1]

Contents 1 History 2 Cover versions 3 In popular culture 4 Chart positions 4.1 Dion 4.2 Eddie Rabbitt 5 See also 6 References 7 External links


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":[2]

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.[3]

The song has been categorized as rock and roll, rhythm and blues and pop.[4][5][6] Today, "The Wanderer" is part of the Mijac publishing catalog.

Cover versionsEdit

"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 Records

Writer(s) Ernie Maresca

Producer(s) Richard Landis

Eddie Rabbitt singles chronology

"I Wanna Dance with You"

(1988) "The Wanderer"
(1988) "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, 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 popular cultureEdit

This section does not cite any sources. Please help improve this section by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. (June 2016) (Learn how and when to remove this template message) 

"The Wanderer" is played before all Bolton Wanderers and Western Sydney Wanderers home matches.

Featured prominently in The Wanderers (1979)

NYC Rockabilly band The Stray Cats have used The Wanderer as their live intro music since their initial run in the early 1980s. It is the song usually played loudly over the house PA as the lights dim just before the band appears onstage and begins to play.

In Brian Azzarello's Watchmen prequel comic Comedian, the song is featured twice, in small but pivotal scenes.

The song is featured during a scene in the 2000 stop-motion animated film Chicken Run.

The song was used in a 1995 ad for Black And Decker's "Snake Light"

In the Canadian Showcase series Lost Girl, the song is featured 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.

The song is prominently featured in the October 2015 trailer of the same name for the game Fallout 4 by Bethesda Game Studios, and is included in the game as part of its in-game radio feature.

Chart positionsEdit


Chart (1961)



U.S. Billboard Hot 100 2

Eddie Rabbitt

Chart (1988)



U.S. Billboard Hot Country Singles[7] 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 alsoEdit

Travelin' Man


1.Jump up ^ "Dion, 'The Wanderer'". Rolling Stone. Retrieved September 26, 2015. 2.Jump up ^ "Dion DiMucci", The Pop History Dig. Retrieved 13 July 2015 3.Jump up ^ "The Original Wanderer: Ernie Maresca", Ace Records. Retrieved 13 July 2015 4.Jump up ^ Unterberger, Richie. Dion - The Wanderer at AllMusic. Retrieved September 26, 2015. 5.Jump up ^ David Hatch; Stephen Millward (1 January 1987). From Blues to Rock: An Analytical History of Pop Music. Manchester University Press. p. 94. ISBN 978-0-7190-1489-5. 6.Jump up ^ Brock Helander (1999). Rocking Sixties. Schirmer Books. p. 103. ISBN 978-0-02-864873-6. 7.Jump up ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). The Billboard Book Of Top 40 Country Hits: 1944-2006, Second edition. Record Research. p. 279.

4. Fallout 4 (2015)Diamond City Radio

External linksEdit

Chords and lyrics Lyrics of this song at MetroLyrics