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Jenny (867-5309)

by

Tommy Tutone



Songfacts®:  You can leave comments about the song at the bottom of the page.

This song is about a guy who gets Jenny's number off the bathroom wall. He can't work up the courage to call her, but thinks he can have her if he ever does. Songwriter Alex Call came up with it while sitting under a plum tree. He told us: "Despite all the mythology to the contrary, I actually just came up with the 'Jenny,' and the telephone number and the music and all that just sitting in my backyard. There was no Jenny. I don't know where the number came from, I was just trying to write a 4-chord Rock song and it just kind of came out. This was back in 1981 when I wrote it, and I had at the time a little squirrel-powered 4-track in this industrial yard in California, and I went up there and made a tape of it. I had the guitar lick, I had the name and number, but I didn't know what the song was about. This buddy of mine, Jim Keller, who's the co-writer, was the lead guitar player in Tommy Tutone. He stopped by that afternoon and he said, 'Al, it's a girl's number on a bathroom wall,' and we had a good laugh. I said, 'That's exactly right, that's exactly what it is.' I had the thing recorded. I had the name and number, and they were in the same spots, 'Jenny... 867-5309.' I had all that going, but I had a blind spot in the creative process, I didn't realize it would be a girl's number on a bathroom wall. When Jim showed up, we wrote the verses in 15 or 20 minutes, they were just obvious. It was just a fun thing, we never thought it would get cut. In fact, even after Tommy Tutone made the record and '867-5309' got on the air, it really didn't have a lot of promotion to begin with, but it was one of those songs that got a lot of requests and stayed on the charts. It was on the charts for 40 weeks."
Tommy Tutone is the name of the band, not the lead singer. The group, led by Tommy Heath and Jim Keller, originally called itself Tommy and the Two-Tones. They had a minor hit 2 years earlier with "Angel Say No," which went to #38 in the US.
When a phone number is needed for a movie or TV show, they usually use a fake one starting with 555, which doesn't exist in the real world. The group didn't want to use a fake number for this because it wouldn't sound right. It made the song a lot more intriguing, but made life very difficult for people who had that number. Many of them had to change it because they were flooded with prank calls, usually kids asking for "Jenny."

The next time a real phone number was broadcast so prominently was the 2003 movie Bruce Almighty, which starred Jim Carrey as a regular guy who took the powers of God. When God wanted to contact Carrey, he would page him, and the number that displayed was a real phone number. For the DVD, it was changed to a generic 555 number.
For years, Tommy Tutone has used a story that there was a Jenny and she ran a recording studio. They have also said it was inspired by a real girl who band member Tommy Heath met in a nightclub and 867-5309 was the phone number of her parents. None of this is true, but it got them a lot more media attention, since it made a better story.
This song had a profound effect on anyone who happened to have that phone number, as well as many girls named Jenny. Says Call: "I think a high school in Peduca or Louisville, or somewhere in Kentucky had the number, and they got 50,000 calls in a week - 'Is Jenny there?' A guy came up to me at one of my gigs - his family is from Florida and they had the number. They loved it, and as they've all grown up - it's a big extended family, they all have on their cell phones 5309, no matter what the prefix is, so all you need to know is what cousin Bob's prefix is. A lot of women have told me they use the name and number as a brush off, which I think is really great. A guy wakes up with a hangover, he's been obnoxious to some girl in a bar last night, he opens up a folded piece of paper and it's 'Jenny - 867-5309.' A lot of people who had it were really pissed off about it. I've met a few Jennys who've said, "Oh, you're the guy who ruined my high school years." Most Jennys are happy to have the song."
Before he wrote this, Call was lead singer in a San Francisco band called Clover. Huey Lewis was the harmonica player, and John McFee, who later joined The Doobie Brothers, was the guitar player. They released 4 albums, the last 2 produced Mutt Lange, who went on to produce Shania Twain, AC/DC, Foreigner and Def Leppard. Nick Lowe was one of their mentors, and brought Clover to England, where they played on Elvis Costello's first album, My Aim Is True. The band broke up in 1978.
Alex Call continues to write songs and perform in the Nashville area. Other songs he's written include "Little Too Late" for Pat Benatar and "Perfect World" for Huey Lewis & the News. He later recorded an album under his own name and released a single, "Just Another Saturday Night," complete with an MTV music video. The single flopped in part because the subject matter - drive-by shootings - was a bit dark for the tastes of some radio programers.
In 1999, Brown University put in a campus exchange of "867." The number 867-5309 went to 2 freshman girls, who got about 5 prank calls a day.
In 2004, after laws passed allowing people to keep their phone numbers when they changed carriers, a man in New York tried to sell the number 212-867-5309 on Ebay. He got a lot of media attention and bidding got up to $80,000 before Ebay canceled the auction, since phone numbers are not technically owned by their users. Many businesses were interested in the number because it is so recognizable and easy to remember.
From Alex Call's tell-all biography: "I was looking to f--kin' rock out. I wanted to find something direct, something like the Stones or the Kinks. There was an old Stones song called "Empty Heart" that had a cool four-chord progression. "You Really Got Me" by the Kinks was another old fave, a timeless rocker akin to the archetypal rock-n-roll instrumentals that I dug when I was a kid. I wasn't looking to copy those songs, but I wanted something that had that primordial rock vibe."
Tommy Tutone originally told Alex that they'd only cut the song if he signed over all of his publishing royalties for the song to them. Alex refused.
This famous phone number has been referenced in several video game Easter eggs, including Duke Nukem, Everquest, and Deus Ex.
Alex Call released a live version on his 2004 CD Incredibly Thick Songs With Complicated Chord Progressions, Vague Lyrics, And Melodies Only I Can Sing.
Everclear covered this song at some of their shows. When they performed it, lead singer Art Alexakis would pick out girls from the audience and ask them to come up on stage and dance. (thanks, Jen - Cleveland, OH)
8675309 is a prime number. The chances of choosing a random 7-digit (telephone) number and finding that it is prime is about 13 out of 200 (about 6.5%).
The Goo Goo Dolls often performed a cover of this at their concerts. Everclear also covered the song at some of their shows. When they performed it, lead singer Art Alexakis would pick out girls from the audience and ask them to come up on stage and dance. Cover versions have been recorded by Linkin Park, Motley Crue, and Green Day. Country star Keith Urban has also played this song at his live shows.
Long before he was a governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger used the song on his Workout with Arnold video.
Many women have used the fictional Jenny's telephone digits to brush off unwanted male attention. More than one guy has gotten a girl's digits, only to discover they are 867-5309.
Tommy Tutone
More Tommy Tutone songs
More songs with girls' names in the title
More songs from 1 hit wonders

Comments (45):

Remember the "Klondike 5" number that the Fonz referred to on 'Happy Days?' Same thing.
- esskayess, Dallas, TX
& the reason 555 is used as a fake exchanfge is because there were no cities/exchanges starting with 2 letters of JKL (no such place as KLingon, NJ!)
- Cyberpope, Richmond, Canada
Peter from New York, you obviously never heard the version that the club cover band, One Eyed Jacks, used to do in the Philadelphia suburb area back in the 2000-2003 time frame, because they owned this song. Bassist, Steve Olshevski and drummer, Tim Smith, used to crush the groove you are referring to. The song was rounded out by brilliant lead guitar licks from Bill Sorah, top notch second guitar work from John Leven and virtuoso keyboards from Ed Ward.
Also, in defense of Dan from Sacramento, CA, he claims that his drummer friend, Mickey, played on a demo of this song, not the actually song that was included on the record and ultimately released as the single we know today. He also states that Mickey left the band prior to the song being recorded. There is no way you can claim that he is wrong about that based on the information you have presented. Demos are recorded all the time, often well in advance of songs taking their final shape for the polished record. Demo versions of songs will frequently feature musicians that have long since departed from the band by the time a song is finally recorded and produced in its final format. In fact, my research indicates that the original drummer of Tommy TuTone was a guy by the name of Mickey Shine, and that he also played drums on My Aim Is True, Elvis Costello‘s first album. So that part of Dan’s story synchs up nicely. The story told by Dan from Sacramento, CA might still very well be bulls--t, but not as a result of the shoddily researched facts that you have presented.
- JFV, Philadelphia, PA
This guy Mickey, who claimed he played on the demo of this all-time Classic ("867-5309") is full of crap. The bass player and singer on this genious track was JON LYONS, now know by original name, NATHAN CROW. Since recording "867-5309," Crow has gone on the has his songs recorded by and/or produe Eric Clapton meat Loaf, Brian May from Queen, Toby Keith, and even rap artist Bizzy Bone from Bone Thugs 'N harmony. The drummer on the "867-5309" was Nathan Crow's long-time drummer and partner in several great bands, VICTOR CARBERRY, who Crow invited to join Tommy Tutone with him after Crow was offered the gig. I've never heard a club cover band ever correctly play the driving groove that Crow and Carberry created as part of this timeless record, and which is an often overlooked part of any hit that goes on to span generations, as this record has done. Incidentally and coincidentally, two decades after "867-5309" became the monster hit it was, Nathan Crow and Alex Call met by accident in Nashville and went on to write several great songs together.
- PETER, New York, New York, NY
Back in 1982 when Tommy Tutone released 867-5309/Jenny I was attending Southwest JR.High in Gastonia,N.C and guess what? When people would call the 867-5309 # along with the area code it rang the school's office.Boy did the schools secretary have to feild a slew of calls.Our school had a party because of the song and the record company sent the school a gold record which was placed in the office to remind us of the song that gave my school some noterity of having the same # as 867-5309/Jenny.Right after the schools # was changed.
- RICKEY, GASTONIA, NC
I love this song. My name is Jenny, it came out when I was in High School. In college a friend of mine would always sing to me, "Jenny, Jenny who can I turn to?" and "Jenny Jenny, you're the girl for me!" Love the song, love the memories!~
- Jenny-Jenny, Seattle, WA
Not only is 867-5309 a prime number, but there is more: The band Tommy Tutone is from Willits California. No one knows exactly where the wall was that this number was seen on, but presumably it was in Tommy's home town. The area code of Willits Ca is 707. If Tommy and his band were to take a trip and he were to then get the nerve to actually call Jenny, he would have to dial 1-707-867-5309. This 11 digit number: 17078675309 is also a prime. The probability of both the 7 figit phone number and the associated 11 digit phone plus area code both being prime is quite low. This can not be a coincidence! I think that it was chosen intentionally to send a message. Our job is to determine what the message is.......
- Mark, Shelburne, VT
Ok,ok...... But, my question is.................
Who is the blonde girl...That plays jenny???

Someone had posted somewhere it was karen morton.

But there is no mention of it at all, on her own website.

Anyone?? Any ideas??? Thanks.
- ROGER, CHICAGO, IL
Gets me rockin' every time I hear it! Reminds me of a tavern maid by the same name who I tried to help out but who left town. All the best Jenny girl, wherever you are.
- Paul, Kennewick, WA
well it just so happens that back in 82 when I first heard this song I had just broken up with my girlfriend (Jenny R***er) and it was a painful one at that as she was very special. I eventually got over it but still think of her when I hear this song.
- doug, kansas city, MO
Jenny WAS ALSO SUNG BY DOOK (FROM THE Rock-afire Explosion IN Showbiz Pizza Place), his true voice Duke Chauppetta.
- Annie, Lombard, IL
i tryed calling 832 867 5309 i heard the song play and then it went to voice mail i also tryed 866 it was a plumbing company any ways i have to call every time the song plays also i found this site :www.danstheman.com/Jenny.htm some nerd called every area code and 867 5309 check it out!
- kitty, houston, TX
By the way, who picks up when you call the number?
Or is it a fake number?
- Emily, Around Chicago, IL
When I was about 8 years old we were learning number places in math. The song was on the radio a lot, and I had it stuck in my head. Thinking it funny, when I was supposed to write a number on the board that the teacher orally said to me, I wrote "8,675,309". It turned out to be the correct answer! I love this song-It's so catchy.
- Emily, Around Chicago, IL
I am from Los Angeles. When the song was released I was in the USAF stationed in Hawaii. Coincidentally I was madly in love with a woman named Jenny whom lived next door. Though she was married I was smitten.. I imageined 8675309 was her # as a fantacy. The song was perfect for my feelings. I quit the pursuit of an US by letting THEM be forever in their lives and in my heart.
Jeff
- badger, los angeles, CA
I've played in cover bands forever, and it's always interesting to try and figure out when people ask for a phone number... are they asking for a Wilson Pickett song, or a Tommy Tutone song?
- Mooseboy, Lincoln, NE
I love this song! Everytime I hear it, I have to call the number.
- Katie, Fairfield, OH
I would love to have 867-5309 as my home phone number, but I live outside of the area in which it would normally be in service. Possible answering-machine message: "Hello, you have reached the home of Darrell and Serena. Jenny is not here, nor will she ever be. If you are looking for Jenny, hang up and quit wasting your time."
- Darrell, Eugene
This song clearly stands out for me in March, 1982, which was my senior year of high school. I had just heard the song on the radio days before, and I remember walking in the high school hallway going to my locker when I guy named John H said "hey, I did anybody hear that new song yet called "8675-309?" I thought I was the only one who liked it. 25 years later, still a cool song!
- Lance, Pittsburgh, PA
Who hasn't dialed this number at least once? Classic 80's song!
- Michael, San Diego, CA
I was 11 in 1982 and there was no caller i.d. so my friends and I called 867-5309 in all known area codes and we never did contact Jenny. I still love that song....even though I only hear it once every couple of years. I'm 11 all over again.
- Angie, Ocean Springs, MS
good song. a friend of mnie dialed the # and got someone from missouri
- danny, winsted, CT
At my sister's house she had a list of various real phone numbers written on the kitchen wall next to the phone (remember when the phone was built into the wall?) But mixed in there with names of family, friends and pizza places was "Jenny - 867-5309." It always made me chuckle.
- Dennis, Anchorage, AK
Almost 10 years ago I acquired the phone number 867-5309 in the (313) area code to promote my mobile disc jocky service Rock City Dj's. It has worked out pretty well, I don't need business cards. I still get a bunch of calls from drunks and goof-balls however; it's pretty entertaining.
Maybe I've heard from you, if not I look forward to hearing from you.
- Kerry, Detroit, MI
The Snopes urban legends site has an article on the prank phenomenon surrounding this song. It points out something interesting about the phone number 867-5309: When dialed on a standard touch-tone phone, "this seemingly random combination of seven digits forms a consistent pattern as tapped out on the pad. The upward diagonal of '8-6' is followed by '7-5-3,' the upward diagonal to the left of it, which in turn is followed by '0-9,' yet another upward diagonal, this one to the right of the original starting sequence."
- Joshua, Twin Cities, MN
True Story; I am a bass player who plays in party cover bands in the Sacramento area. We play dance songs, and Jenny is one of our best. People really like to dance to this song. One day I was playing a blues gig in Jackson CA just outside Sacramento. Our drummer's drum teacher sat in with us. His name was Mickey, and he claimed to have played with Huey Lewis. He told us that he was on Elvis Costello's first album. Anyway, later on I asked him to play a local gig at a club with us. He agreed, and then I looked online for his name, and I found out that he was the original drummer for Tommy Tutone, however he had left the group before they recorded Jenny, although he had help record the demo tracks for the song. I asked him if he would like to play Jenny that night but he declined! Too bad, because that would have been a real story!!!
- Dan, Sacramento, CA
Oh, so many rumors around this song, but who cares!!! It always has been a great tune and will contiune to be so along with so many other one-hit wonders from those early MTV days when we still got to see videos.
- Dee, Indianapolis, IN
This is pobably the most prank called number in the nation.
- jackie, chicago, IL
Yes, many people did covers. Uhm, Less than Jake, Blink 182, Bracket, and Rick Springfield. But the origional is the best. I have to afree.
- Savannah, Dearborn, MI
Being that my name is in this song me and my chums always have a good laugh when we listen to it and after hearing all the covers the original is still the best. !!!!!!!
- Jennni, New York, NY
i heard that someone in the groups ex-girlfriends' name was jenny and her number was 867-5309, when they broke up he was bad at her or something like that, so to get back at her, he put her name and number in a song.
- gywn, niskayuna, NY
In addition to Uptown Girl by Billy Joel and Jennifer by Styx, this is another song between me and my girlfriend with the same name (Jenny)
- Mike, Clinton, MA
i love this song, my brother and sister called it from my sister's friend's phone w/o the friend's knowledge (in order 2 avoid any possible long distance charges)and they didn't get an answer, a message said that they needed a proper area code for the call to go through or sumthin.
- Natasha, Chico, CA
Oh my, this is a great great song. I really liked hearing about the connection with Elvis Costello - I could imagine an obsessive Costello singing this one himself back in the day.
- Jon, Roeland Park, KS
Less Than Jake has done a pretty kicking-cover of this song, which is featured in one of the ESPN Summer X-Games video games.
- Steve, Wallingford, PA
in "family guy", stewie thinks this is his home phone number when he calls lois.
- Joe, Los Angeles, CA
I received news that somebody who lives somewhere in Pennsylvania actually had this phone number. However, when a lot of people tried to dial it, the operator would say, "The number you have dialed, 867-5309, has been disconnected. 867-5309, has been disconnected. No further information is available about, 867-5309."
- Annabelle, Eugene, OR
"The true story: Alex Call came up with the digits for the 80s hit. He made it up sitting under a plum tree. Who was Jenny? Nobody. The name just had the right number of syllables."

Nope. Yuo are wrong.
- Jefferson, Nekoosa, WI
i love this song! it's so catchy, although i feel sorry for people who have this phone number
- jme, raleigh, NC
The true story: Alex Call came up with the digits for the 80s hit. He made it up sitting under a plum tree. Who was Jenny? Nobody. The name just had the right number of syllables.
- Shirley, Ocean, NJ
i feel so sorry for people who have this phone number...
- Evan, Acworh, GA
The part about there being a real Jenny is an Urban Legend. Read the recent book As Luck Would Have It by Joshua Piven. He talks about how the song was just a song -- perhaps inspired by an earlier song with a phone number as its title, and the record company made up the story to make it more interesting.
- James, San Bernardino, CA
My sister was named for this song.
- Jade, Sterling Heights, MI
I worked at a radio station in Florida when this song was a hit. A listener in the area had the same phone number and kept calling and threatening to sue us because of all the calls he was receiving. We kept playing it anyways.
- Michael, Akron, OH
Blink 182 did a cover of this song, also.
- Kelsey, Milan, IL
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