“Come on Eileen” must be one of the best songs ever. And, just so you know, it’s about Catholic repression of healthy lust. No, really.
That’s what Kevin Rowland, the Dexy’s Midnight Runners singer and songwriter, told The Guardian it is:
KR For years I told everyone that Eileen was my childhood girlfriend. In fact she was composite, to make a point about Catholic repression. On the Projected Passion Revue tour in 81 there was this girl interviewing us and she was going on about the spiritual nature of this music and I’m thinking to myself: “Right, but that’s not what I’m feeling at this moment …” She was really good looking, and I was reminded of being a teenager, surrounded by Irish Catholic girls you couldn’t touch, but at the same time with these overpowering feelings of lust which you’re not supposed to have.
You can look at the lyrics by yourself; it’s really hard to me to get that message, as opposed to, I don’t know, just non-denominational sexual frustration and repression; or maybe that the singer just wants to hook up with Eileen. But that’s one of the key characteristics of the Bad Propagandist: he must tell you what he means, because otherwise there is no way to know; and because most people don’t care about the artist, in the end his message gets lost in time. I wouldn’t be surprised if this song is still popular 100 years from now. Maybe people will read this blog and wonder: “really, about Catholic repression?”
This video about Rowland, his dictatorial way of running his band and how a combination of talent and inspiration from others led to the creation of his masterpiece is worth a look too: