I was bummed when I heard the news about Phil Everly passing late last week. My parents had a Greatest Hits collection from the Everly Brothers in our car for just about as far back as I can remember. I have plenty of their stuff in my library, but it hasn’t been on my iPod so I haven’t given it as much play in the 6-8 months. So, in looking for an appropriate song to plug tonight, I sat down and cranked up the full catalog.
At first, I thought to plug their version of “Barbara Allen” because–thanks to that tape my parents had,–I was well into my teens before I realized that “Barbara Allen” was a widespread ballad that far pre-dated Don and Phil Everly. But then another song queued up and I was stunned by the images that flooded my mind’s eye from the dusty recesses of my kid-memories. I didn’t just remember the song in relation to a moment, I remembered–with frightening clarity–exactly how my child-mind had imagined the events of the song.
And since the song was “Poor Jenny” it was pretty trippy stuff.
Most people I know think of “Wake Up Little Susie” or “Dream” or “Bye Bye Love” first. “Poor Jenny” doesn’t rise to the top of the list, but trust me, you need to give it a listen. It’s got that fun late-50s, early rock sound going on, in the vein of “Wake Up Little Susie” but with a bit more drive to it.
The slightly amped up drive is appropriate, because Little Susie with her potentially damaged reputation from falling asleep out at the drive in with her boyfriend got off oh-so-much lighter than Poor, Poor Jenny. You see, Jenny goes out to her first party, on a first date with a guy. A party that broke out in a fight. Jenny punched in the face and knocked out. The cops are called. The moron boyfriend (who, incidentally is singing this tragic tale) couldn’t carry her, so he leaves her. Jenny winds up getting tossed in the jail. And plastered on the front page of the paper. And labeled the leader of a teenage gang.
No, seriously. It’s in the song!
And then the asshole has the nerve to go visit her in jail. Needless to say, she wants nothing to do with his lousy ass. And vengeance may yet be hers on some level since her brothers on his trail and her daddy wants to run him “outta town on a rail.” Poor Jenny!
The ghastly image of a black-eye’d Jenny behind bars, looking like total shit that flew into my mind after all these years, I have to wonder if this amusing little ditty didn’t somehow go to work on my childish unconscious resulting in me avoiding the dating scene to this day…