I'm no big fan of telephones – I can't stand 'em. I'm looking forward to the day when cellphones do something useful, because then I can get one and talk about calling plans with my friends and not feel left out. I too will be able to wag my finger at someone I'm with to shut them up while I answer a call from a complete stranger. I will be able to have the loudest ringtone - I'm thinking I'll buy "America - Fuck Yeah!" - for when I'm in a cinema. And when I'm in a bar with friends, I'll fiddle with the buttons and light up my chin with that eerie telephone glow. And take pictures of cute people of the relevant sex surreptitiously while pretending to call my broker at the gym.
For an instrument of communication, the telephone does seem to inspire a great deal of angst. Do you know any songs featuring telephones where the parties actually make contact? I can only think of songs where the parties are unable to connect.
Hanging on the Telephone – Blondie
I'm in the phone booth, it's the one across the hall
If you don't answer, I'll just ring it off the wall
I know he's there but I just had to call
Memphis, Tennessee – Chuck Berry
Help me, information, more than that I cannot add
Only that I miss her and all the fun we had
But we were pulled apart because her mom did not agree
And tore apart our happy home in Memphis Tennessee
Rikki Don't Lose That Number – Steely Dan
Rikki don't lose that number
You don't wanna call nobody else
Send it off in a letter to yourself
Operator – Jim Croce
Operator, oh could you help me place this call
You see the number on the matchbook is old and faded
She’s livin’ in L.A.
With my best old ex-friend ray
A guy she said she knew well and sometimes hated
The first verse of Operator has me sniffling every time - and I can't stand singer-songwriters.
I think the lack of communication is the key to the songs. The inability to connect makes for conflict and conflict is the soul of drama. That is, if you can get through the whole song without your cellphone ringing.