Memory Songs #2 “Geno” by Dexys Midnight Runners


Back in  ’88, or thereabouts, in a once thriving Scottish coastal town of the sort that they forgot to bomb I stumbled across a second hand record store with my dad.

It was the sort of place that just couldn’t exist now.

Tucked away in a back street, far from the (then) bustling High Street with its John Menzies, Woolworths and proper specialist record store (Sleeves) it existed only because people still cared about, and bought, music in a physical form.


Actually, imagine is all you can do because such stores are few and far between now.

Getting fewer and further between with every breath.

I don’t remember what I bought that day but my dad bought “Searching for the Young Soul Rebels” by Dexys Midnight Runners.

I knew who Dexys Midnight Runners were because even then “Come on Eileen” was a staple of every school disco or wedding dance I had ever attended.

At that point I didn’t realise what a staggering work of genius that record was, I thought it was a novelty record.

Stupid boy.

My dad seemed genuinely excited about having found “Searching…” and I couldn’t really work out why based on my limited knowledge of the band.

Back at home everything was soon to become clear.

“Listen to this.” my dad said before he lifted the needle and dropped it onto the closing track of side one.

By the time “Geno” had finished I felt…different.

It had transported me to a time and a place that I didn’t really know anything about, exposed me to a cast of characters I couldn’t have known and left me with my heart rate increased to dangerous speeds.

My dad was a young soul rebel.

A Mod.

He knew who Geno was.

He had seen him.

Had owned “Hand Clappin’, Foot Stompin’, Funky Butt…Live”.

Loved him.

As Kevin Rowland sang about that sweaty club back in ’68 my dad could have been there…could have been the lowest head in the crowd…been fed…practised his steps…probably joined in with the fights.

He had lived “Geno”.

As I listened I felt like I had lived it too.

I loved it.

I loved his voice…that voice.

I loved the brass…played loud, hard, fast and with passion.

I loved the story.

Not everyone who influences you has to give you academic inspiration, right?

Sometimes you need people, songs, books, things that just make you feel things, that connect you to other people.

“Geno” was probably the first song that thrilled me in that way…that connected with me…that connected me to the singer.

Like most things in life I arrived after the fact.

Years later I stumbled across this footage of the band performing the song on television and I fell even harder, even deeper in love with the whole thing.  Up until this point I had thought that there probably wasn’t a single, universal, definition of “cool”…but I was wrong because here it was.

This was pop music.

This was soul.

This was as close to perfection as anything ever gets.

Kevin Rowland is one of a handful of people in popular music history who genuinely deserves the title of genius…you might argue with that but what you can’t argue with, not successfully, is the fact that he is one of an even smaller number of people in the genre to comfortably be able to carry the title of artist.  He is more than a singer.  He is more than a songwriter.  He is projected passion, the young soul rebel…artist I tells ya, an artist.

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