Wednesday, 20 February 2013

My Top Ten Telephone Call Songs

You may have spotted a recurring theme over the last few weeks... There were far too many telephone songs for one Top Ten, so I've tried to group them into some more specific categories. (I know, I spend far too much of my life thinking about this, don't I?)

Anyway, here's ten songs that feature actual telephone conversations... mostly.

10. Meri Wilson - Telephone Man

By popular demand... honest.

Look, she's gossiping on the phone in the video. It fits here as well as it would in any of my other phone-based Top Tens. Let's just get it out of the way, shall we?

9. Shelby Lynne - Telephone
I never really thought you would answer.
Now it's a big blown up thing.
I wish you hadn't been at home when the telephone rang.
When the telephone rang.
8. The Wedding Present - It's For You

David Gedge gets well pissed off when his girlfriend's ex keeps calling up...
No, it’s for you but then you didn’t need me to say that
‘Cos you already knew, how many times is it today that
He’s had to call? 

It’s as if you’re still together
I don’t care at all, 

I’m just wondering whether
You think you and he will ever run out
Of things that you have to talk about?
It's for You by The Wedding Present on Grooveshark

7. Jonathan Richman -  I'm Straight

Jonathan has seen the object of his affections hanging round with that loser Hippy Johnny... so he calls her up and offers to take his place. Hippy Johnny's always stoned... but Jonathan's straight. Honest.

6.  The Dead Kennedys - Kinky Sex Makes the World Go Round

In which the US Secretary of War calls up the British PM and outlines his plans for a nice war. This was released in the mid-80s... a decade or so later, Tony Blair took the very same call for real.

5. REM - Star 69

There's a lesson here - don't call Michael Stipe without leaving a message. He'll know it was you... and call back, mad as a box of frogs.
I know all about the warehouse fire
I know squirrelies didn't chew the wires
Three people have my number
The other two were with me.
I don't like to tell-tell but I'm not your patsy.
This time you have gone too far with me.
If you're in the UK and you want to know who just called you, you may try 1471 by Arab Strap. I can't find a link to that though.

Still, having included both *69 and Arab Strap in the same post, I'm bound to get a few more hits...

4. Billy Joel - Sometimes A Fantasy

Haunted by a schizophrenic badboy version of himself, Billy (or is that Sly Stallone?) calls up his girlfriend in the middle of the night... the symbolism suggests a heavy bout of phone sex... but then again, it might all be in his head.

I used to like this song... having now watched the video for the first time, it scares the hell out of me. 

3. Department S - Is Vic There?

No, he's out, sorry.

Call back later.

2. Lou Reed - New York Telephone Conversation

Lou gets woken up by the phone... and a most inane conversation follows.

1. The Big Bopper - Chantilly Lace
"Hellllloooooo, baby!"
The only thing I really knew about the Big Bopper was that he recorded this excellent rock 'n' roll song (used to great effect in Tarantino's True Romance) and that he died in the same plane crash as Buddy Holly and Ritchie Valens. The one thing I didn't know about The Big Bopper was that he was a white guy who looked like Peter Parker's old school bully, Flash Thompson. With a voice like that, I always pictured a black Fats Domino type... and I see from youtube that I wasn't alone in that misapprehension.

I have still got a few telephone songs to feature, but they'll have to wait a while. Meantime, which call would you take... and which one would you let go to the ansaphone?


  1. Kate Bush - All The Love, which features goodbyes from actual phone messages.

  2. My favourite is 'Walkin' In The Rain With The One I Love' by Barry White. The spoken word bit in that makes me laugh every time I hear it. Most of the song consists of some woman singing about how much she loves walkin' in the rain, then towards the end she calls up Barry White and tells him she loves him, and he says something like: 'You been walking in the rain again, baby?'

    1. I forgot that was a phone conversation, but you're right, it's a monumental slice of cheese. Tasty.

  3. Ah. At last I get to justifiably refer the honourable gentleman to Girl On The Phone by The Jam.

    1. I was still saving that for another list, but I'll let you have it here too.

  4. I'm giving up on Abba's Ring Ring now...


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