January 4, 2006

"I don't sing black, I don't sing white, I sing Bronx."

Have you ever thought about how great Dion is? He is a brilliant singer, and a completely warm performer, whose patter between songs is as entertaining as a good stand-up comedian's. I saw him in a small club here in Madison in 1990, and I can honestly say it was the most enjoyable concert I've seen in my whole life. I just loved him. He sang his old songs -- even, just to make us happy, "Teenager in Love" -- though he had a new album out, "Yo, Frankie." (A terrific album.) I remember him talking about how "The Wanderer" wasn't really what he was like. It was just an attempt to do a follow up to "Runaround Sue," a male version of the female character who meant a lot to him. He married Sue, he said, and was still married.

Now, he's made a CD of blues songs:
Dion said that despite being urged at various times by Bonnie Raitt, Van Morrison and Steven Van Zandt to make an album of blues, he never seriously considered it until a record producer, Richard Gottehrer, heard him talking about his early influences and performing examples on the National Public Radio program "Fresh Air," and suggested a session on his Dimensional Music Recordings label. And it wasn't until Dion actually began working on the record that he realized how these songs had been "the undercurrent of everything."

"You can't hear me thinking on this record," he said with a laugh. "I guess when you're an adult, things don't affect you like they do when you're 13 and vulnerable, and I didn't realize how much Hank Williams and Jimmy Reed were a part of me. It's all the music that kept me honest through the years. You can learn how to sing rock 'n' roll, but I don't know if you can learn how to sing blues because you have to sing without an agenda to capture it. It's so beautiful; you can express anything. I think it fell out of the sky."
Well, beautiful. A beautiful guy with a beautiful voice.

The new CD is "Bronx in Blue":


David said...

One of my favorites was "Runaround Sue."

Dion di Mucci (I think that was his last name) was as good as Elvis in his own way.

Thanks for the tip about the albums.

Ruth Anne Adams said...

Dion wrote the cover story to Envoy Magazine in its May/June 1999 edition describing his faith journey. [Takes a few moments to load]


AllenS said...

I Googled Dion di Mucci, and found his web site.


I'm 59 years old, and remember all the wonderful rock and roll songs by him and the other musicians of the time. It was a good time to be alive. His web site has good info about his life.

Finn Alexander Kristiansen said...

Oh man oh man, a Dion post!

I love DiMucci, but listened to him mainly off of his religious albums from the mid-eighties (and which Amazon has on sale in a double disk-yes!!!!!), as his better known stuff was a little before my time. But whether it's his secular or religious music, his voice and tone remain unique and...yea, so warm!

Back in my teens I gave those tapes (cassettes actually) away to someone, and only now in the internet age have been able to find what I lost.

Gabe said...

Being from the Bronx, I have his "Abraham, Martin, and John" on vynal. You would be surprised and how good it sounds over a hip-hop beat.

Pooh said...

Has anybody heard the Blues album? Worth the cash?

Gabe, tell me you have a link for that ;)

Mark Daniels said...

They re-ran the 'Fresh Air' interview from 2000 this morning. It was cool listening to Dion talk about his early influences--Hank Williams was the most surprising. Guitar in hand, he was ready to break into song at any moment. His voice is, if anything, better than it was in his teen idol days.

It was also interesting to hear him talk about why he wasn't on the charter plane that crashed with Buddy Holly and Richie Valens on board, although Holly had asked him to consider riding with them.

Mark Daniels