Dion DiMucci, who performs under the name Dion, is a swaggering Rock and Roll Hall of Famer whose hits include “A Teenager in Love” (recorded with his doo-wop group The Belmonts), “The Wanderer” and “Runaround Sue.” He also is a seriously religious man, who, after becoming a born-again Christian in 1979, released a series of pop-gospel albums.
One of them was 1980’s “Inside Job,” which contains a song, co-written by Dion and Bill Tuohy, titled “New Jersey Wife.” (The song also appeared on his 1997 anthology, “The Best of the Gospel Years”). It’s an earnest mid-tempo song about a harried housewife — or, as we might say now, a soccer mom. “The phone is ringing off the hook/Neighbor’s gossip on the line … You rush Bobby to the soccer game/And then drive Jenny to ballet/You leave the chicken in too long/And now it’s Burger King today,” Dion sings.
In the chorus, he encourages her to find meaning through religion: “Let go, let God take over/He’ll be your own true guiding light.”
Does the song really have anything to do with New Jersey? Very little, I’d say. The “New Jersey” is there, presumably, as a kind of shorthand for “soul-sucking suburbia.” But really, “New Jersey Wife” could be set just about anywhere.
And why is Dion singling out this person for his evangelism? The listener never really gets a answer. It’s almost like he just picked a person, randomly, to focus on — though, in a way, the person then comes to represent everyone, for who doesn’t relate to her in some way?
New Jersey celebrated its 350th birthday in 2014. And in the 350 Jersey Songs series, we marked the occasion by posting 350 songs — one a day, from September 2014 to September 2015 — that have something to do with the state, its musical history, or both. To see the entire list, click here.