“Poor Jenny”

As a regular reader of Sixties Music Secret’s you’re probably aware that many of our posts are inspired after hearing a rare piece of music from the 60’s, which is the inspiration behind this post. Last night, driving thru the streets of “Beautiful Downtown Burbank” we heard a record that literally made us stand to attention ( a very dangerous thing to do while driving in “Beautiful Downtown Burbank) But that’s how powerful this classic is….As we put “Pen to paper” this morning we realize how little time SMS has dedicated to this  duo and yet history has qualified them as the most celebrated, successful, inspirational and influential duet of the 60’s and all time! Their Rock a Billy sound, with two acoustic guitars  and of course the incredible “Chime” of their tight two part harmony that you can only achieve when you share DNA. John and Paul worked their British Butts off to capture the magic as did The Hollies, Crosby Stills and Nash, and dozens more, but no one could truly get that “Vocal Bell” that only  The Everly Brothers could ring

Phil and Don…… The Everly Brothers. You can probably call out a half dozen of their hits just by hearing their name. Which is our point.

Didja know that the Everlys had 35 Hot 100 Billboard hits!  But what galvanized their imprint on music were the 12 top 10 hits they enjoyed. And here’s our favorite stat… Of the 12 Top 10 hits they achieved, half of them included a girls name in the title remember?…” Wake up Little Suzi”, “Claudette”, “Cathy’s Clown”, “Lucille”, Take a Message to Mary” and our favorite “Poor Jenny”…..Poor Jenny, your thinking? I’m not sure I recall?……Probably not it’s a bit obscure, poor Jenny was the B- Side to their first single in 1959″Take a Message to Mary” which it self was a terrible record A boring almost laughable song about a stagecoach robbery gone wrong, with nary an acoustic guitar to be heard, no we’re not joking! But flip it over, as a few D.J’s did and you’ve got “Poor Jenny” with it’s explosive Scratchy, Jangleing “Gibson Everly Bros. Flat top” custom built guitars to the , of course, “bell” like harmonies! Sonically it tore our very young ears off, but at nine years old it was the lyric that really caught our attention…Ya See, “Poor Jenny” is the story of a first date gone very wrong……Our singer takes Jenny to a party, people get a little crazy, a fight breaks out, Jenny jumps in, throws in a few punches, but catches a hook and is  knocked out cold  The cops come, our singer can’t carry Jenny clear, so leaves her and our “Poor Jenny” gets arrested. First thing in the morning Jenny’s on page one, broken nose,  black eye and all as the newspaper continues to report that Jenny “Is the leader of a “TEENAGE GANG” Jenny’s dad and big brother come gunning for our singer….As he sings the final lyrics to this two-minute masterpiece “I hope that I’m around when Jenny gets out of jail, ohh Poor Jenny”…..What a great guy!  So much about this record made me “Stand to attention in 1959, but it was the story that shocked my nine year old ears! This was the first time I heard about “Teen age rebellion!……”Wow, can you say that stuff on the radio? Afterall it’s 1959

The song was written by The Great husband and wife songwriting team of Felice and Boudleaux Bryant who would go on to write over 6000 songs, 200 were recorded, several more for the Everly Bros including “Wake up little Suzie, “a few years later, but yet another song about a “date gone wrong” However the song that opened more doors for them, and The Everly Bros  and turned the world around was the incredibly haunting beautifully romantic “All I Have To Do Is Dream” who of us hasn’t invoked those words to our true love…..Such a far cry from “Jenny” or “Suzie” or even “Bye, Bye Love” Yup, they wrote that one too, as well as “Bird Dog” Their ode to obnoxious guys “Hittin on your chick” another big inspiration for me as a 12-year-old! As a music junkie I followed and bought just about anything Felice and Boudleaux wrote, and they wrote hits for everyone thru the decades….Roy Orbison, Ricky Nelson, Brenda Lee, Tony Bennett, Dean Martin, Linda Ronstadt even Nazzerath…remember “Love Hurts”? Yup Felice and Boudreaux…

Yes, I was a fan boy and as my career in music unfolded I had two opportunities to spend time with the two Greats!

Boudleaux…In the mid Seventies, I received a call in my office,. An unfamiliar voice said I hear you’re a fan of The Everly’s and The Bryant’s?  I of course replied YES The voice then said “This is Boudleaux! Would you like to get together tonight for a drink” ? You know what I said,…We met at The Beverly Wilshire Hotel. Started talking, started drinking, Boudleaux: “Hey Rick I just ordered a bottle of Johnnie Walker Black, uh Oh! We Started laughing started singing and then it started raining, but a kind of rain that you only experience every 100 years in Los Angeles……..As the night “Poured on, outside the room and within’ Beaudeleaux and I were having a party singing his classic Everly Bros. catalog. At one point I said Hey Beaudleaux you sing the harmony I ‘ll sing the melody, that’s when Beaudleaux Bryant said to me “HARMONY ? I’m way to drunk to sing harmony” and the night went on with Beaudleaux insisting I stay until the rain stopped, we sobered up or Sunrise We enjoyed all three! When I left Mr. Bryant gave me a copy of his new book “The Songs of Felice and Boudleaux Bryant! He inscribed it fo me: To Rick, I have enjoyed many great nights in my life, This one I enjoyed more than most”For me, it was the greatest night of a young career! Life couldn’t get better, but it did….

Felice Bryant: In the late 80’s just a couple of years after we lost Boudleaux, I attended a Black Tie Music Awards banquet in Nashville Tennessee. Halfway through the evening, I was finishing my rubber chicken and I got tapped on the shoulder, I stood up to see eye to eye with Felice Bryant, I gasped for air Felice sez: “You look like a nice man, would you dance with me and get me away from my table and the annoying reporter”?……My mind was racing, Wha? Where? Hunh?

Was this Felice Bryant, “The First Lady of songwriting randomly  asking me to dance? YES, indeed it was….I wrapped my arms around Felice and proceeded to attempt my very best “Tennessee Waltz”

At best I was clumsy but I made up for it with enthusiasm…..What a joke, but what a moment! So Felice and I danced and danced around this giant outdoor tent as my friends, colleagues and peers watched in disbelief. As we neared one of the exits I steered us back into the banquet, Felice says “Where are we going “? I reply “Back into the tent for another dance around the banquet”…..Felice sternly responded “The hell we are, I’m getting out of here, thank you sir” All I could say was Yes Ma’am and..”Bye, Bye, Luv”

Poor Ricky…

Here’s “Poor Jenny”





  1. Hi rick, have a boudleaux publishing story for you, in all l.c…heard it from dane bryant, maybe 35 to 40 yrs ago, so may not be totally accurate..george harrison contacted boudleaux, i believe early 70s..said he was recording “dream” to include on next lp,loved the song, bkah blah blah..he then said he had done a bit of rearranging, and created a bit of musical movement that was not part
    of the original song. Would boudleaux agree to giving harrison a co-author or arranger credit, and divide the royalties 50/50? This was at a time when harrisons LPs were huge sellers, or as doug morris would say, “impawtent rekkids!
    Dane said his dad thanked george for the compliments, appreciated how much harrison loved the song, etc. Then told him that as far as he was concerned “dream” was perfectly fine as written, with no need for any embellishment, no matter how well-executed. Said george was welcome to cut the tune, but without any writer/arranger credits at all. And that was that. Needless to say, harrison never made the record he intended.

    Dane was a bit rueful over the lost income, but i could tell he was bursting with admiration for his dad’s integrity and pride..How many writers have you worked with that would be as disinterested in the money, to turn down a beatle-size paycheck to retain their self-esteem?

    I may have missed some details, but the storys pretty clear. It says a lot about Boudleaux, and a bit about Harrison as well. If you talk to Del or Dane they can give you a much better account.
    Everlys were, are and always will be #1 in my heart, thnxx for your interest, mc

    • Hey Mark,
      WHAT A GREAT STORY! It certainly does speak volumes to the character and quality of both Boudleaux and George. Good on Boudleaux for not succumbing to the subduction of a “Beatle” But, sadly it also paints George in a very bad light!
      Really George, YOU need to put YOUR name on one of the great classics of our time?
      Mark, your story simply makes my head explode! And at once amplified my respect for Mr. Bryant and once again re-consider my feelings about George, who is no stranger to song infringement! You of course recall George’s issue regarding “My Sweet Lord” and “He’s So Fine”?
      Thanx Mark, a great 60’s music story! Please keep ‘Em coming!

    • Yep, combine those pure, perfect voices with the scratchy, Jangleing sound of their custom built Gidson flat tops and you’re in music paradise…
      Thanx Joe…

      • Hi Rick. Just wish I could have met them when they played in Manchester.I have two 60s Hofner guitars. One I was told Billy J Cramer owned she he lived in Bootle Liverpool.bought it wfrom my brother in law in the 70sn

          • Hey Joe, sorry you missed them….I got a chance to see them in the early eighties….
            Kinda like seeing God, only with better harmonies!

        • Wow Joe, how very cool…..And yes Billy J. Kramer did live in Liverpool, and as you probably know was managed by Brian Epstein ( the Beatles manager) and Brian had a deal with Hofner…..Paul played Hofner Bass….
          So “Good on ya” Joe!…..Take a Pix of the guitar and post it here at SMS. We’d love to see it….Thanx Joe

    • Yes Joe, we agree, regarding their harmonies, many have tried but no one comes close. Their harmonies were a big part of our original post about “Poor Jenny” ( see above)
      Thanx again Joe…

  2. He again! Poor Jenny is a catchy song. When The Everlys got back together, the song Let It Be Me says it all. It almost brings tears to my eyes.very emotional song. I play it sometimes on my guitar. I’m 74 and have a disability. I also play uke.

    • Hey Joe, great to see you once again! It’s really great to hear from someone who is old enough to have been around when The Everly Bros burst on the music scene back in 1960!
      You make a great point about “Let it be me” That song seems to strike an emotional chord in everyone….
      To this day, my best friend from high school and I get together to sing and “Harmonize” .”Let it be me” We can’t come close to the Everly’s, but we give it hell! As we do with all of their songs, including “Poor Jenny”
      By the way, we’ve always felt that “Poor Jenny” was a really funny song…..YOU.?
      Thank you Joe for your thoughts and story! Never stop playing and keeping the Everly Bros. legacy alive…

        • Yes Joe, sooo catchy, but I just love the irony of their first date, Jenny’s first party and BAM, Jenny ends up in jail…..Yikes!

  3. Hi Rick thanks for memories of your meetings with the Bryant’s. I’m a great fan of The Everly Bros. Try to play their songs on my guitar. Can play a bit. I live in UK. Middlewich Cheshire.

    • Hi Joe,
      First and foremost, welcome to Sixties Music Secrets. It’s great to have you join in the conversation. Furthermore, it’s great to have someone from the U.K. Join in and share their unique point of view and experiences.
      In the 1980’s I was assigned the position of Manageing Director Pro Tem for Universal Music Publishing.
      I spent to better part of the decade working out of their London office, when I fell in love with the city, the countryside and of course The Music…Soooo, we’re looking forward to your thoughts and comments about all things 60’s Music-ish
      Thanx again Joe and we’re looking forward to hearing YOUR version of “Poor Jenny”

      • Hi Rick. I think The Everly Brothers harmonies summed it up.they were the best in their music.

        • Hey Joe, we so agree with you…..We have often said “The Everly Bros. we’re The Beatles before The Beatles!
          And what’s more, even The Beatles said that!
          Thank you Joe, we love and share your enthusiasm

  4. Wow, I remember the song but did not know the back facts of the song itself. Sounds like great memories!

    • Hey Jules…
      We like your point, when you truly break down the lyric to “Poor Jenny” It’s a mini movie! Hell, it’s practically a feature film……And yes, two of my favorite memories. I got drunk with Boudleaux and danced with Felice……Sometimes a guy just gets lucky!
      Thanx Jules for sharing in my memories…

  5. Mr. Shoe ( Gas Eye ) ,
    What a great story and some really interesting facts I did not know about. Sounds like you had some really good memories with these guys. I’m jealous man. Thanks for (your) memories and a good read of the past!!! Groovy and far out man. Sha sha !
    Mr. IS ( worm neck )

    • YES,…Mr. Is Working in the music biz for 40 years I had the opportunity to meet a lot of cool folks! But occasionally I got a chance to hang out with people I idolized and truly shaped the music industry! Such is the case with Felice and Boudleaux Bryant…..They were the voice of The Everly Bros. and for me, The Everly Bros were the coolest act in the music biz…They of course pre dated The Beatles by at least five years. And with the exception of The Beatles they are recognized as Thee most influential act of the decade.
      Glad you enjoyed the article. Sounds like you appreciate the memories as much as I do! Thanx for always weighing in with a kind word and clever twist

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.