By Hans Ebert
For some reason, I never warmed to Elvis. No idea why, especially as I was so influenced to and by whatever my older cousin Tony was listening. And being a disc jockey, he was an Elvis fan. Perhaps even some Bobby Rydell. For me, it was the Dave Brubeck Quartet, especially drummer Joe Morello.
I was a weird kid, new to Hong Kong and from Ceylon where my old man had his own radio show. This was when I was introduced at a very young age to the music of Ella, Sarah Vaughan, Dinah Washington, Nat King Cole, June Christie, Julie London, Peggy Lee, Errol Garner and the music of Tin Pan Alley.
Having the Dave Brubeck Quartet come home for a typical Sri Lankan curry and sign a copy of “Dave Digs Disney” and Joe Morello photographed carrying me, well, that made me a fan.
It wasn’t until hearing “Sherry” by the Four Seasons with that powerful intro and then a slew of their hits like “Big Girls Don’t Cry”, Rag Doll”, and around the same time, Dion’s “Runaround Sue”, “The Wanderer”, and especially, “Ruby Baby” that I became a fan of so-called Popular music.
Of course, there was Bobby Darin, another favourite, but there was something very special to me about the Four Seasons and Dion. I wasn’t familiar with the music he had made earlier with the Belmonts.
Who knows why anyone likes any one particular record or artist more than others. But, at least to me, there was nothing at the time like the hits of these two artists.
Being an only child, I would pretend to have my own radio show and would sit down there producing my Top Twenty. No prizes for guessing who topped my charts.
Of course, the Beatles came and changed the course of music, but the Four Seasons, now with Frankie Valli taking centre stage on the brilliant “Let’s Hang On” and “December 1963 (Oh,What A Night”, my past was still my present.
Dion? Well, though having lost track of his career, there was a new musical connection with the singer-songwriter when he returned as Dion DiMucci and his comeback album “Sanctuary”, which coincided with his recording of the still very much relevant “Abraham, Martin and John”.
And then, he was gone again, at least to me, though a few friends had filled me in on his life changes, a project with Phil Spector, a return to a more Blues approach to music, his work with Bruce Springsteen, Paul Simon and Dave Edmunds, and something I was aware of- how, like Scott Engel and Roy Orbison, his cult-like status in the UK.
During these days where so much music is being discovered and rediscovered and shared on Facebook, Dion DiMucci is back.
His new music like “A Song For Sam Cooke” is resonating with fans- some after too long a time. It’s simple honest music that one can embrace without any need for asking questions in these very complicated times.
Though I would love to hear him work on something with James Taylor or Bonnie Raitt and listen to how he might interpret the late Lowell George’s “Roll ‘Um Easy”, it’s good to have The Wanderer back.
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