IGNORED OBSCURED RESTORED
Ever since the telephone became an essential appliance in homes, it has also found a place in music… in the form of songs referencing telephone numbers.
The earliest example I know of is “Pennsylvania 6-5000,” the Glenn Miller Orchestra’s 1940 hit (though I’m sure there are even earlier ones). Does anyone remember the scene form Twin Peaks when Leland Palmer puts it on his Victrola then dances with his murdered daughter Laura’s photograph? Creepy in that Twin Peaks way.
By the mid 1950’s a phone number was used in the Brenda Lee rockabilly hit “Bigelow 6-2000.” Brenda is impatiently sitting by her phone, waiting for her “baby” to dial her number. (If he doesn’t, she’ll call him!)
Motown got into the act in 1962 with the release of “Beechwood 4-5789” by the Marvelettes. In this one the singer wants very badly for a guy she’s eyeing at a dance to take her number and give her a call.
In 1979 The B-52s released “6060-842” on their debut album, a song about a disconnected number. (It starts off the same way Tommy Tutone’s “867-5309” does, with “a number on the wall.”)
“853-5937” was released by Squeeze in the late 80s on their album Babylon and On. It’s about a guy who is frustrated because he gets Angela’s voice message machine every time he calls her. In the end, the jealous and paranoid guy thinks his friend – who also isn’t answering – may be hooking up with Angela.
Of course there are many others including the aforementioned “867-5309,” Wilson Pickett’s soul classic “634-5789,” Etta James’ sweaty R&B on “842-3089 (Call My Name)” and the funky “777-9311” by Morris Day. And these are just examples of songs that have the phone number in the title! There are probably countless others that have a number in the lyrics but not the title. Alicia Key’s “Diary” (489-4608) comes to mind. My daughter informed me that (678) triple 9-8212 is referenced in Soulja Boy’s “Kiss Me Thru the Phone.”
Can you think of any others?
Enjoy… until next week.
London’s burning, dial 99999.
I’m sorry to do this but the Partridge Family’s Echo Valley 2-6809.
Do Operator (The Dead) or Memphis (Berry) count?
Great piece though Tom.