News & Politics

RIP Art Ehrens, a Top-Tier Jingle Writer

He's the reason you know the Len the Plumber song, among many other Washington-area radio ads.

Art Ehrens. Photo courtesy of Jon Ehrens.

If you hear “we’re good to your car, so your car will be good to you…” play in your head every time you pass a Jiffy Lube, you probably grew up around DC. The catchy jingle is part of a vast repertoire of Washington-area radio ads created by Art Ehrens, who passed away on April 16 at the age of 76, leaving behind an array of ever-remembered earworms.

Ehrens’ son, Jon Ehrens, posted what he described as “a very incomplete collection” of his father’s jingles on the music-sharing website Bandcamp. The list includes 47 ads, including extra-memorable hits created for Jerry’s Subs & Pizza (“Ooh ooh… Jerry’s”), Len the Plumber (“The only way to get a plumber today!”), and Chesapeake Bay Seafood House (“Get all the seafood you can eat every day, only at Chesapeake Bay”).

“I spent one day just going through stacks and stacks,” Jon says. All in all, he says it took him about 10 hours to pull the collection together. “I had to learn how to thread a reel-to-reel machine. There’s so many more of those that I’m definitely going to have a volume two at some point.”

Jon, now a musician in Vermont, says the Ehrens household was always crafting melodic snippets about life’s mundane tasks when he was growing up (he recalls one, which went “don’t… get… mad at the meat, mad at the meat,” about tenderizing meat for dinner). Ehrens used to go on daily bike rides, Jon says, and come back with some of his best ideas for melodies and wordplay-filled lyrics. Jon went on to work with his dad on a number of jingles, including a 2014 spot for Marlo Furniture that he co-wrote and that his sister, Emily Ehrens, sang.

The Bandcamp “album” Jon created includes ads for big-name national brands such as Giant, PetSmart, and Sunbeam Bread, along with some unknown, unnamed spots from the ’70s. Capping the collection is “King of the Mountain,” a super-upbeat original song about skiing that Ehrens wrote in 1982 in response to the Christopher Cross hit “Sailing,” according to its Soundcloud page.

Photo courtesy of Jon Ehrens.

One spot, a WRC-TV ad, features folk-and-country star Mary Chapin Carpenter from before she got famous. Jon says his father liked to help people out, and was able to give several up-and-comers their break throughout his decades of musical work in TV and radio. “No one in the business had anything bad to say. And a lot of people said, ‘I wouldn’t be who I am or where I was; he really believed in me, and gave me my first shot.'”

Kayla Benjamin
Assistant Editor