A Jenny by any other name would be a jacked-up floozy whose father abused her, or so popular music has me believe.
Mediocre girls don’t merit songs. If you find your name rolling off the lips of some guy with a guitar — and later, off those of the drunk guy at the karaoke bar — there’s one of three explanations:
- He wants you and he can’t have you.
- He wants you and he has had you.
- He’s probably had you, but you’re a hot mess and he’s wondering how your life got to be so shitty and writing this song to either let you know he feels bad for you or to question why he ever got involved with you in the first place.
Jennys — with the exception of those from the block — are almost unfailingly “C”s.
While Deliliahs, Eileens, Emilys, Marys, Carolines, Johannas and Barbaras are out inspiring aspiring musicians to pen amorous and randy tributes, Jennys are the muses for songs about women who are loose, victims of abuse and/or have been either on the instigating or receiving end of criminal behavior.
Let’s take a look at the evidence.
1. “Jenny (867-5309)” – Tommy Tutone
Jenny Jenny who can I turn to
You give me something I can hold on to
I know you’ll think I’m like the others before
Who saw your name and number on the wall
Start with the most obvious “Jenny” song. I’m a hooker, right? Or, at the very least, a very loose lady — one who, if the video is to be trusted, also drives men crazy and inspires peeping Toms to spy on my sexual encounters through the bedroom window until the po-po are called.
2. “Jenny Was a Friend of Mind” – The Killers
We took a walk that night, but it wasn’t the same
We had a fight on the promenade out in the rain
She said she loved me, but she had somewhere to go
She couldn’t scream while I held her close
I swore I’d never let her go.
By this point in The Killers’ “murder trilogy,” I’ve already been choked to death by my jealous alcoholic boyfriend, purportedly because I am a filthy cheating whore, holdin’ some other boy’s hand and lying with other people. But we were buds! So you just keep moving right along, coppers.
3. “Photo Jenny” – Belle and Sebastian
You see the boy/girl’s at the bar
Everyone thinks she’s really ugly
But I shut my eyes
And make a film
And the star of it is Photo Jenny
I’m transgendered? A cross-dresser? A transvestite? I can’t be sure, but I’m clearly the fantasy alter-ego of someone uninterested in hormone therapy and who’s fantasizing about him or herself being with everyone at the transvestite bar.
4. “Jenni’s Song” – Matthew Good Band
Jenni killed her dad with her car
And now she’s a millionaire
She got beat on mostly for being at home
So mostly she wasn’t there
Even though I’m pretty crazy and definitely on drugs, I guess I should feel good that my lover is cutting me a little bit of slack here, considering my drunk father regularly beat the spit out of me. Fun fact! The song is based on a real Jenny who, in the end, killed her abusive father by ramming into him with her car.
5. “Cut Me Up, Jenny” – Taking Back Sunday
On a borrowed mattress you were stopping time,
I’ve been watching you,
I’ve been watching you
for hours and hours before you knew.
You are the satin noose,
I’ve been saving up to buy.
Sleeping around and breaking hearts again, this time with a glutton for punishment. He’s the more messed-up one here, but this is far from a love song. I’m a sadist, my presence an instrument of torture and death: a “satin noose” and “the polished-pearl grips of [my] father’s .45.”
BONUS: Janie’s Got a Gun
What did her daddy do?
What did he put you through?
They said when Janie was arrested they found him underneath a train
But man, he had it comin’
Now that Janie’s got a gun she ain’t never gonna be the same.
You’re not a Jenny until an adolescent boy’s inserted your name in this song’s title and laughed hysterically same way he did after giving you the “Me and Jenny was like peas and carrots” line. Even though the name’s an offshoot, the plot’s the same: girl molested by father kills father. *Yawn*