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Saving Jane - Girl Next Door

In the mid-2000s, a song sprang from WNCI's playlist to listeners across the nation and put a spotlight on a Columbus band: Saving Jane's "Girl Next Door." I remember the first time I heard Taylor Swift’s “You Belong With Me” on the radio. “Is she covering that Saving Jane song?” I thought to myself. It’d been a few years since “Girl Next Door” was released, but I’d heard it enough to remember some lyrics. It was all over Columbus radio before hitting the top 40 and going gold. The songs are different musically, and I suppose young women singing about unrequited love isn’t exactly unusual. But some lyrics have uncanny similarities: “She's a cheerleader, I'm sitting in the stands” (Girl Next Door), “She's cheer captain, and I'm on the bleachers” (You Belong With Me).


Front cover of Saving Jane's Girl Next Door

Taylor Swift's star rose to stratospheric heights, and Saving Jane vocalist Marti Dodson is “just a one hit wonder out here tryin’ to make it two,” as she puts it in her Instagram profile. Still, one hit is something not too many Columbus bands have accomplished and Saving Jane had a pretty amazing ride.

Singer-songwriter Marti Dodson grew up in the tiny Ohio River town of Franklin Furnace before moving to Columbus to attend Ohio State. She met and started writing songs with Columbus native Pat Buzzard. The duo called themselves Partners In Crime but soon realized that they’d need a band to help record songs. Saving Jane began when drummer Dak Goodman of Milkbone Eddie came on board to help record the songs in March 2001. Kris Misevski joined on lead guitar in July 2001 and Jeremy Martin took over bass duties in 2002, forming the original core of Saving Jane.

Although they wrote original songs from the beginning, Saving Jane booked both cover band shows and shows for original material. There are essentially two worlds in the Columbus music scene. The cover band scene, with its bands and clubs, and the original band scene with its bands and clubs. That’s not to say there’s no crossover. Some bands begin with originals and evolve into covers for money/survival. Full-time musicians often play in cover bands as their “day gig,” supplementing their less commercial endeavors, including original music, jazz, etc. It’s much less common for a cover band to transition to a successful career playing original music. Whether it’s because playing covers is less artistic, “easier,” involves more clubs to choose from, draws better, makes more money, etc, than playing original music, there tends to be no love lost between the two worlds.

Cover of Girl Next Door single

Hey cover band, let me see your palms

Your love and life lines never seem to cross

Ain’t nobody gonna come see my new band

Ain’t nobody gonna even clap their hands – Brian Barlup/Silo The Huskie, “DCG

Recording for what would become the Girl Next Door album originally began in March 2003. The initial sessions were scrapped and Saving Jane signed with industry string-puller and Cincinnatian Mark Liggett’s Alert Entertainment management in May 2004. The band wrote some additional songs and started laying down the tracks once again. Girl Next Door was first released independently in August 2004 with a CD release show at the defunct Columbus club On The Rocks.

Musically, the band’s sound was evolving and management was increasingly focusing the band’s marketing around Dodson. As often happens, not everyone in the band was on board with the changes and guitarist Kris Misevski moved on. Mike Unger came on board to fill the guitar slot and Joe Cochran joined on keys in November 2004.

In February 2005, the key turning point in Saving Jane’s career happened when WNCI added "Girl Next Door" to their playlist. Suddenly, Saving Jane was on everyone's radar, and their infectious pop-rock anthem was climbing the charts. Columbus radio is supportive of homegrown talent, but for the number-one pop station to add an independent release from a local band is extremely unusual. Saving Jane was on its way. By the fall of ‘05 independent label Toucan Cove had re-released Girl Next Door, providing a significant step up in distribution. In December, the “Girl Next Door” single hit Billboard’s Pop 100, a rare feat for a small label release.

Now things were starting to move at a breakneck pace for Saving Jane. As the calendar flipped to 2006, the band flew to LA to film a video for “Girl Next Door.” MTV picked the track to serve as the theme song for its Tiara Girls reality show. In February, Saving Jane signed with Universal. They were still touring by van and staying in dive motels, but they’d entered the majors. Not everyone in the band was ready for the implications and guitarist Mike Unger stepped aside, replaced by Brandon Hagan. Universal released “Happy” to radio as the next single in May. It got more than respectable airplay, but never quite picked up steam.

Saving Jane’s ascendence from clubs to a major label deal was quick. There’s some risk to that. There were a lot of eggs in the “Girl Next Door” basket and the band was still building a core fan base while trying to hang on to new fans that might only know a song or two. Things in the music business are never easy, but in 2006 Saving Jane was riding high and getting a taste of life at the top.


Written-By – Jackson Browne

10 Mary

Back cover of Girl Next Door

Companies, etc.



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