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”
Here’s “Poor Jenny”