During the holidays with friends and family and food around, there should be music to accompany the fun and frolic. While this is background noise to most, now and then a song will come on that makes you stop. It is a ‘special song’ that has a meaning more than just the hooks and lyrics.
Maybe it is that first dance or a movie theme or from frat boys’ party tape but when it plays there is a lump in your throat and a tear in your eye that no one else will understand.
So now all the Halloween candy has been eaten and the silly costumes put away and the you stuff more than the turnkey and before become engulfed by wrapping paper and carols, thing of one song that has a special meaning.
Let me tell you a story of a ‘special song’.
In my town there is a neighborhood called ‘the Fan’. Row houses built in the 1900’s fanning out from the downtown area to what would become the WWII suburbia. A western expansion of the city after the civil war was mostly blue-collar apartments and duplexes until the late 70’s and the 80’s when real estate took off and the renovations took dilapidation to architectural marvels.
The Fan is peppered with seedy bars and restaurants but with the transition, these dives became bistros, cafes, brasseries, and other chic establishments for dining. A few held on to their tradition.
On a side street in the middle of the block next to the alley a house converted into a bar was born. Established in 1952 it was a bit far away from school but became a hangout in the early 80’s. It is a comfortable establishment with a diverse mix of early morning bar hounds, families, students, and couples.
Joe’s Inn has two sides to every story. One is the bar and wooden booths and the other side have the kitchen and tables. Some years ago they did some renovations but this story took place before the removal of the tin ceilings and jukebox.
In each booth, on the bar side, were selectors on the wall. A quarter would give you three choices of whatever the jukebox held to offer. It was first come first serve to get your playlist. There were classics, rock and soul, new wave, and whatever the distributor loaded that week.
Then there was G6.
“867-5309/Jenny” is a 1981 song written by Alex Call and Jim Keller and performed by Tommy Tutone that was released on the album Tommy Tutone 2, on the Columbia Records label. It peaked at #4 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and #16 on the Billboard Top Tracks chart in May 1982.
I liked the hook and the beat and the message and would play G6 whenever I went to Joe’s Inn. After awhile it became a habit and everyone else in the booth would sing along. 8-6-7-5-3-0-9.
Then I met this girl there. Joe’s Inn became our hangout and we’d spend hours drinking pitchers and eating greasy food and lots of laughs in the roar of the crowd. Friends would come and join us and then leave but we would stay for hours. We even had a plaque up on the wall acknowledging our regular attendance.
And every night we sang 8-6-7-5-3-0-9.
On one particular night a large group of us were crammed in a booth and I started plugging the jukebox with quarters. G6, G6, G6. It became a passion to see how many times that song could play. 8-6-7-5-3-0-9.
Other patrons came and went and some stayed the night but they all heard 8-6-7-5-3-0-9 over and over again.
Then something magical happened. When “Jenny, Jenny” came on for the umpteenth time, not only was our booth singing the words but so was the whole bar. The next time it played the other side of Joe’s Inn started chiming in on the chorus and a call and answer was formed between the two sides. Even the harmonies were good. 8-6-7-5-3-0-9.
We were laughing so hard that when the music stopped everyone cheered at the accomplishment with hopes they didn’t have to hear that song ever again.
So that is the story of a ‘special song’. You probably have one too. If you want to sing along to mine…. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6WTdTwcmxyo
If you need to learn the words, play it over and over and over and over again.
Until next time, what was that number?