Old Wives' Tales
Radio & TV
Toxin du jour
Claim: The Tommy Tutone song "Jenny (867-5309)" drove the phone companies (and their customers) nuts.
Origins: The 1980s produced a number of one-hit wonders, including the infamous Tommy Tutone and its 1982 hit song "Jenny
In "Jenny," a young man laments not having the courage to dial a number found scribbled on a wall but finds some comfort in the notion that he can someday call this girl and sweep her off her feet. Though not explicitly stated in the lyrics, it's strongly implied the name and number were harvested from a bathroom wall, which also implies "Jenny" is a gal of easy virtue and is to be had for the price of a phone call.
Even as recently as 1999, phone customers unlucky enough to have been assigned an
The biggest complaints about the new phone exchange come from Nina Clemente '03 and Jahanaz Mirza '03, the two students with the telephone number 867-5309.Whether there was a real Jenny with that very phone number is debatable. Those who attempt to dial
"It's so annoying," Nina said. "It's the worst number to have in the world."
The girls receive an average of five "stupid" messages every day on their machine, in addition to a slew of hang-ups.
"It's as if they are really expecting Jenny to pick up the phone," Clemente said.
Unfortunately, the problem is not getting better, and people just keep calling. Some ask for Jenny, some play the Tommy Tutone song on the girls' answering machine, and some males even leave their phone numbers in hopes of finding a date.
The song gave rise to its own lore, which asserted that the "Jenny" in the song was the lead singer's real-life girlfriend (or ex-girlfriend):
[Collected on the Internet, 2000]Other explanations leave off her suing the songwriter but have her becoming angry with him and changing her number (which, ironically, is the one thing the song begged her not to do). In another flavor of the tale, the band is sued by a sheriff who had both a daughter named Jenny and the notorious
I heard a more elaborate story that the number actually belonged to one of the band member's ex-girlfriends (named Jenny, of course) and that he wrote the song to get back at her for dumping him. She supposedly got a restraining order taken out against him and won a court order to have the song pulled from the airwaves for a while, etc. etc.
"Jenny" has had a breath of new life breathed into it by the Goo Goo Dolls, a popular band that debuted in 1987 but only began to hit its stride in 1998. Though it has yet to record a cover of "Jenny," the Goo Goo Dolls have often included a rendition of it in club appearances.
An adjunct to this legend is the rumor that due to the overwhelming number of prank calls now made to
Barbara "jenny, they done dizzied you up" Mikkelson
Sightings: The song "867-5309 (Jenny)" serves as the centerpiece for a 2004 Cingular television ad touting number portability.
Last updated: 27 April 2007
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