DEAR JERRY: You don't know me yet, but I want to thank you for the nice comments you made about, “442 Glenwood Avenue.”
You see, I am the original writer of this song, recorded on Mercury records in 1963 by the Pixies Three.
I was just 17 or 18 when I came up with “442 Glenwood Avenue,” though my initial composition went through some revisions before it ever got to the Pixies Three.
In the first draft, the story is of a lonely soldier in Viet Nam. He longs to return to the USA, and to his sweetheart who lives at that address.
I am often asked if 442 Glenwood Avenue is an address with some real-life connection. There is none whatsoever. We just picked a generic street, one that might be found in any state.
Producers John Madara and Dave White helped recast the lyrics to what became the hit you now know, turning that address into the location of a party for teens.
A little-known fact about “442 Glenwood Avenue” is that I really had the Temptations in mind when I wrote it. Though an unknown writer at the time, I still tried to reach them at Motown. Never could make the necessary connection.
Of course the Pixies Three did a great job with it. The tune even reached No. 1 in several markets, which was a great thrill.
This year, my attraction to made-up addresses comes full circle. I just produced a hip-hop CD for a young Iraqi boy who lives in Detroit. His name is Raiad Kochi.
The album title and its lead track is “1405 California Drive.”
Gary Brown, Detroit, Mich.
DEAR GARY: Thank you for the factoids, especially the song's original story line and that you wrote it with the Temptations in mind. Great stuff!
I checked my January 1964 Top 40 radio survey archives and quickly found three stations listing “442 Glenwood Avenue” as their area's No. 1 hit: WCAO (Baltimore, Md.), WJDY (Salisbury, Md.), and WSBA (York-Lancaster-Harrisburg, Pa.).
Now I do know you, and let me wish you good luck with your latest address: “1405 California Drive.”
DEAR JERRY: Loved your All in the Family slant on American No. 1 hits, and now I'd like to take things one step further.
Here is an example of three different generations in this case, a father, son and grandchildren hitting No 1: Ozzie Nelson (“And Then Some”); Ricky Nelson (“Poor Little Fool”); and Nelson (“[Can't Live Without Your] Love and Affection).
As you know, Nelson is the duo of Gunnar and Matthew, Rick's twin sons.
Terry Campbell, Ojai, Calif.
DEAR TERRY: Marvelous observation, and a welcome addition to the family stew.
With an abundance of musical talent in the bloodline, it would not surprise me to one day adding a fourth generation Nelson to the list.