Runaround Sue: The Original Slut

Some may argue that sluts have been in existence since the dawn of time/the Bible, but the modern incarnation of the meaning was truly honed by one, Runaround Sue in Dion and the Belmonts’ song of the same name. Sue, with her devil-may-care approach to relationships, treated all men as though they were casual dalliances.

Single cover for "Runaround Sue"
Single cover for “Runaround Sue”
As Dion sings with a combined aura of malice and sadness, we understand that Sue’s desires can’t be quelled by any one man. After all “she likes to travel around” a.k.a. spread her STDs to whoever doesn’t know about her reputation already. The objective of the jilted lover (arguably Dion) is to warn every other man who succumbs to her charms to beware of the fact that “this girl will leave [you] with a broken heart.” And possibly a broken dick.
http://youtu.be/fzO6krwjlIM
Considering this song was released in 1961, just as beatnik culture was becoming more mainstream, it’s easy to understand why Dion and the Belmonts were addressing the topic of promiscuous women. The associated laxity with the beatnik movement applied also to the women who were apart of or privy to it. Though Sue was not necessarily one with the Beat Generation, it makes sense that “Runaround Sue” would come out during a time when women were posing a threat to men with their freer sense of sexuality.
Sue's the type of girl who always has her legs akimbo
Sue’s the type of girl who always has her legs akimbo
While Dion’s message vacillates between heartache and revenge-seeking, it’s clear that, overall, he finds himself superior to her for his ability to remain faithful. Sue, on the other hand, is the one who gets the last laugh as there are plenty of men to go “around” who aren’t yet wise to her sexual appetite–especially if this story is taking place in New York City. Thus, Dion can warn “Ask any fool that she ever knew, they’ll say keep away from a-Runaround Sue” all he wants. But it’s not going to change how high in demand she is, particularly since sluttery was so hard to come by in 1961.