“867-5309/Jenny” by Tommy Tutone
Tommy Tutone’s “867-5309/Jenny” is centered on the singer trying to muster up the courage to call the titular “Jenny”. He acquired her number by observing it written on a “wall”, as in someone posting her contact information in a public area.
FYI, such practices are usually reserved to advertise prostitutes. And it would appear that he regards “Jenny” to be someone tantamount to the aforementioned professional, as he drops the line “for a good time call” – a slogan often used by people in this line of work – in relation to his aspirations for an eventual encounter with “Jenny”.
However, Tommy Tutone band member Jim Keller, who co-wrote the track, has stated that “Jenny” is a real person who he got acquainted with via friends who posted her “number on a men’s room wall at a bar” and that she was “a regular girl, not a hooker”. But interestingly enough, to the contrary, the other co-writer of the song, non-band member Alex Call, has recounted that the character is entirely fictitious, and this is a song that he originated “just sitting in (his) backyard”.
Either way, the storyline presented in this song is not hard to follow.The central character is not “Jenny” but rather the singer himself. “Jenny” is just the object of his affection, someone we know nothing about outside of the narrator arbitrarily coming across her phone number. Rather the narrative that comes forefront of this track is his high level of excitement as well as anxiety and expectation when it comes to actually reaching out to her.
Who wrote “867-5309/Jenny”?
As aforementioned, “867-5309/Jenny” was written by Jim Keller and Alex Call, the former being the guitarist of Tommy Tutone.
Meanwhile the track was produced by Chuck Plotkin and Geoff Workman, neither of whom were part of the band.
When was “867-5309/Jenny” released?
This song was initially released by Columbia Records, first as part of the album “Tommy Tutone 2” on 23 September 1981 and then as a single on 16 November of that same year. Since its release, “867-5309/Jenny” has gone on to have an enduring popularity the world over.
“867-5309/Jenny” performed well on the Billboard Hot 100, making to the impressive peak of #4. It also managed to reach number 2 on RPM’s Canada Top Singles.
867-5309 is a real Phone Number
As one can see, there is a seemingly valid, seven-digit phone number in the title of the song. This led to quite a few people, as in tens of thousands, calling “867-5309”, much to the chagrin of some citizens who actually used that telephone number when the song was released.
Interestingly since then, due to the popularity of the number, certain businesses have actively sought to acquire it for their own usage. For instance, a company called Natrient LLC reportedly paid $25 million to acquire 1-800-867-5309 in 2009.
Indeed as of February of that same year DJ Spencer Potter of New Jersey, who owned the telephone number 867-5309 in his own area code, said he received approximately 10,000 calls annually from random people asking for “Jenny”.
It should be noted that Tommy Tutone opted not to use an outright fictitious phone number since they felt it would not make the song sound authentic.
NOTE: In addition to making the titular telephone number popular, girls named Jenny also had to deal with it for a while upon this track’s release.
Karen Elaine Morton plays Jenny
American model and actress Karen Elaine Morton played the character Jenny in the official music video for “867-5309/Jenny”. Her portrayal of Jenny went on to be her most notable role as an actress.
Bruce Springsteen’s “Radio Nowhere” sounds similar to “867-5309/Jenny”?
Iconic American singer and songwriter Bruce Springsteen released a single titled “Radio Nowhere” in 2007. Shortly after “Radio Nowhere” was released, many accused Springsteen of “stealing” and using parts of “867-5309/Jenny” in his new single. But did Springsteen really steal parts of “867-5309/Jenny” for “Radio Nowhere”?
We listened to both songs and couldn’t help but notice that the guitar riffs in “Radio Nowhere” sound very similar to Tommy Tutone’s “867-5309/Jenny”. You can listen to the audio of Springsteen’s “Radio Nowhere” below and be the judge!