Eugene Weekly : Feature : 8.18.11

A Fair to Remember

For a Good Time, Call Tommy Tutone dials up the Lane County Fair

Plug Into EW’s New Community Stage Local musicians rock the fair

Recyclers at the Fair

Snout and Snout The thrill of pig races

Black Sheep of the Family Natural colored fleece at the fair


For a Good Time, Call
Tommy Tutone dials up the Lane County Fair
Rick Levin

There is no shame in being a one-hit wonder. Why should there be? We can’t all be the Beatles or Mariah Carey. And when you take to mind the fact that the vast majority of human beings don’t even record music — much less record a song that charts at #4 on the Billboard Hot 100 — it begins to seem a bit jejune to trash on a band that at least once reached such rarefied heights of mass popularity.

Can you say Muh-muh-muh-muh My Sharona?

In 1982, Tommy Tutone released “867-5309/Jenny,” a terminally catchy pop rocker that continues, nearly three decades on, to inspire snickering knuckleheads to dial out drunkenly and ask for the titular dream girl. When I, snickering, dialed the number with a Eugene area code, I encountered the universal “If you feel you have reached this recording in error” recording, which definitely lowered my excitement to about half-mast.

Jenny, Jenny, who can I turn to?

You give me somethin’ I can hold on to,

I know you think I’m like the others before,

Who saw your name and number on the wall.

The Wikipedia entry for “867-5309/Jenny” is double the length of the Wikipedia entry for the band itself, so I persisted, this time dialing out with a Boston area code. A mellifluous female voice answered, asking me, royally, “How can we make you smile?” But, alas, it wasn’t Jenny. Did she ever get calls for Jenny?

“We get a few,” she said breathily.

How many?

“I have to end this,” she said. “I’m sorry.”

Talk about one hit, right below the belt. Like every other sad sack who’s tried to call Jenny only to have his heart broken and his dreams dashed — and there have been at least 8,675,309 calls since 1982 — I was left with nothing but that chronically singable song and its seven heavenly digits. Oh, but what a song it is.

Tommy Tutone plays 7:30 pm Friday, Aug. 19, at the Lane County Fair; FREE with admission.