Dexys Midnight Runner ‘Verge on dirty’ in 1982

#1 in the U.K., then in the U.S., toppling "Billie Jean"

From time to time I hear a song on the radio that I’ve heard a thousand times, and still can’t understand the lyrics the singer is singing.

You’d think by this point in my life, I would’ve Googled the song long ago for confirmation. But, I’m usually driving and Googling isn’t any safer than texting when behind the wheel.

Today, I finally dove into the lyrics of Dexys Midnight Runners', “Come On Eileen,” to solve the mystery. Why did I pick today, of all days, to uncover what’s been eluding me since the song came out? Well, today is an important day in the life of “Eileen.”

It was on this date in 1982, the new wave band from Birmingham, England, scored the top spot on the U.K. charts. Then in April, the following year, “Eileen” toppled “Billie Jean,” knocking Michael Jackson off the top of the U.S. charts.

The song was the second release off the band’s album Too-Rye-Ay, and went on to become the 18th ranked song on VH1′s 100 Greatest Songs of the ’80s.

According to the website, the Dexys song is a true to life story. Explaining, “Eileen” was a girl band founder Kevin Rowland knew growing up. According to their story, Rowland and Eileen became romantic when they were both 13 and a year later the relationship became sexual.

To Rowland, a Catholic altar boy, sex was considered a taboo subject and “dirty.” The song was written as an expression of his pent-up feelings and describes the “thin line between love and lust.”

Rowland wrote, “You in that dress, my thoughts I confess, verge on dirty, Ah, come on, Eileen.”

Now that I’ve found the lyrics and listened to the song (several times), it seems clear that either my hearing is going or it’s their accents that threw me off.

“Too ra loo ra too ra loo rye aye.” Seems easy enough to understand, right?

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