THE PLAYLIST #2 | Pick Up The Phone

Welcome to THE PLAYLIST, where we pick a theme and, er, make a playlist around it. Sometimes you might get an essay, other times you might get just one sentence as a precursor to the laser-focused audio delights that await below.

Following on from last week’s Britney Spears extravaganza, Justin McDaid takes the reins, punches in some numbers and dials up 20 edgy affairs where the humble telephone plays a killer part…  

‘Hanging On The Telephone’ has to be the most ironic cover of all time. Has anyone ever left Debbie Harry hanging on the telephone? Has there ever been a more inspiring entreaty to pick up the receiver than Blondie’s ‘Call Me’? Go on, give Debbie a ring. What could go wrong? There she is, riffing nonsensically about colour and chatting about her bedsheets; babbling in French and Italian and practically begging you to call her.

Seems like a no-brainer. History, though, has shown us that the telephone is a thing to be handled with caution (see every time you’ve woken up to find an ill-advised 3:30am morning-bomb in your outgoing call list), and every song below is a warning to be taken seriously.


You have Dr Hook on to Sylvia’s mother for at least ten minutes, getting nowhere fast. There’s Suggs on the phone to his missus for an hour and getting nowhere, painfully slow. There’s Olga trying to court Kendra, a heroic but futile endeavour. Heartbreak, stalking, fucking brain tumours (leave it to Super Furries) – these are devices of mishap and misfortune. The well-documented, irrational fear of the Unknown Caller is all the more understandable when you hear of David Berman’s bleak walk to the receiver on Silver Jews’ death ballad ‘Death Of An Heir Of Sorrows’ (a song so good that Spotify can’t even).

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Anyway…Chris Stein didn’t feel the need to call Debbie Harry up way back in ’73. He knew nothing good ever came from a phone call. Instead he joined the band she was singing with, put in the legwork, and off they both went and formed Blondie. Maybe ‘Call Me’ was Blondie’s considered response song to The Nerves’ 1976 tele-neurotic classic. No, really, have a listen…

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