Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Call Me: Hanging On The Telephone (x3)

Blondie: Hanging On The Telephone


The Nerves: Hanging On The Telephone


L7: Hanging On The Telephone


Most folks know where this week's theme title came from. But less seem familiar with Blondie's "other" phone-themed song, an earlier, popular cover of an obscure song by Jack Lee's short-lived US West Coast power pop trio The Nerves, which sped up the song a la punk and gave Blondie their third top 10 song on the UK charts (Trivia note: their first chart-topper, the previous year's Denis, was also a cover). By the time all-American all-girl thrashpunk band L7's even faster cover found it's way to the Jerky Boys Movie soundtrack in 1995, the song was already starting to fade from the national consciousness - tellingly, L7 and The Nerves were both from Los Angeles - and until Cat Power revived the song for a Cingular commercial in 2006, it hadn't really stuck in mine, either.

But despite my affinity for all things sweet, I think sticking with the punk evolution is a better way to appreciate this one, in the end. The opening ring is cute, and the drum-beat rich and just frantic enough in all three versions here today. Blondie's harmonies are sweet, and typical of the sound that brought the American New Wave to the forefront of popular music in my own formative years, and lead singer Debbie Harry has a great tone here. But I mostly like this tune for the room it opens up for the guitars - something you can hear in every incarnation.

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