Jaded, blasé college junior Neddie Jingo is beginning to come to an understanding that (although he has at the time no way of knowing it) will mark his final passage to adulthood.
He realizes he hates, to the point of loathing, crowded smoky rooms with music so loud that conversation is impossible. When "Rock Lobster" is playing at such volume that one's leather-lunged sallies of seduction fall on unhearing ears and blank face ("Wanna fuck?" "What?" "Let's go upstairs and -- oh never mind." "What?"), one intuits that one's time might be more profitably spent. It will be a long time before this insight will cause him to make the sort of life-altering choices that will eventually land him, decades later, in a clearing in a forest on the side of a mountain in rural Virginia. The impulse is exactly the same -- loud room, loud city. But for our purposes let it suffice that, disenchanted, he leaves the smoky commons and wanders upstairs to the residence to check out the haps.
One room contains a few desultory friends. He goes in, sez howdy, picks up a guitar, slouches into a beanbag chair, begins to plunk aimlessly, dreamily. I-vi-IV-V. IVmaj7-ii-V7-I. I-ii-iii-IV-V7 ("You went to the finest school all right, Miss Lonely...")
He becomes aware of figure on a nearby couch. Smoking. Staring intently.
"You're pretty good," comes from the wreath of smoke.
"Thanks." He's competent. Andy Summers, Django Reinhardt, Danny Gatton, Christopher Parkening. They're good. Neddie's just barely scraping into Doesn't Suck Completely. But it's nice to hear.
"You ever write any of that stuff down?"
"What, what I'm playing?" Hell, this is just improvising. Chord archetypes. All songs are made up of 'em.
"You should write 'em down. Copyright 'em. I did. Got me a trucking business out of it." He stares intently, expecting something from me. Interest. Fascination. Dropping everything and staring, rapt: Oh, do go on! The adult Neddie would have done just that. But not the 20-year-old model. Way too cool for school, that one.
Who the hell is this guy? Townie, seen him around a few times, cadges beer at frat parties and tries to chat up coeds. Mostly harmless. But he makes Neddie nervous, seems far too intent on wrenching away his interest, his cool. A blowhead, a buzzkill. Ned makes his obeisances to the room, sets the guitar down, leaves.
Pierce Dining Hall. Spring 1981.
Some time later, he mentions this encounter to a friend over dinner.
"Oh! You met the 'Yummy, Yummy, Yummy' guy!"
"Yeah! Guy claims to have written 'Yummy, Yummy, Yummy, I've got love in my tummy"! Nobody knows if it's really him, or he just says that to get into girls' pants, but yeah: He comes into town on Saturdays, goes to frat parties, drinks free beer, and tells people he wrote 'Yummy, Yummy, Yummy.'
"Jesus. Some people."
Used Record Store, New York City, Winter 1985.
Copy of The Ohio Express's "Golden Classics" in his hands. Hey! Check out this super-kitschy bubblegum record! Ohmygod, that gay blue-velvet neckpiece that guy's wearing, that double-breasted coat, and that blue ruffled pirate-shirt--"
"Yummy, Yummy, Yummy" guy. Extreme left, yellow cravat. Absolutely no mistaking it: Jeeeeezis Cripness on a toasted motherfuckin' bun, that's the guy! That's old Wreath-of-Smoke, old You're-Pretty-Good, old Got-Me-a-Trucking-Business!
He wasn't lying! He really did exactly what he said he did! And Neddie, complete buffoon, complete skeptical nose-in-the-air standoffish pinhead, the guy he tried to tell to write down and copyright his ideas, the guy he tried to impart some fuckin' wisdom to -- just snickered up his sleeve.
Oh, he hates himself.
But at least he has a story that he can dine out on for a bit. Never hurts to be a little self-deprecating at parties. The chicks love a guy who can laugh at himself.
Joey Levine is a prolific songwriter, producer and performer of pop music starting around 1966. He sang lead vocals on several charted Top-40 pop singles, including "Run Run Run" by The Third Rail (1966), "Yummy Yummy Yummy" by The Ohio Express (1968) and "Life Is A Rock (But The Radio Rolled Me)" by Reunion (1974). He specialized in what was known as "bubblegum pop" music.Now I have no idea who the "Yummy, Yummy, Yummy" guy actually was. He was in the band, and that's how he got his trucking business, and how he came to be photographed in the band. But he did not write "Yummy Yummy Yummy." The same guy who did that went on to write "Life Is A Rock (But The Radio Rolled Me)," and who I have no doubt is rich enough that he doesn't need to cadge free beer at frat parties south of his native Mansfield.
Levine produced records for Super K Productions, run by Jerry Kasenetz and Jeffrey Katz (Kasenetz-Katz), who released many charting single records in the late-1960s for the likes of The Ohio Express...
And that was definitely not old Wreath-of-Smoke. Old You're-Pretty-Good. Old Write-That-Stuff-Down. Old Voice-of-Experience.
Unless he was lying to me.