I was up late the other night tossing and turning ruminating wondering about whether I had made the right judgment call on a particular decision earlier that day. I was flipping the channel and cable television was showing the movie by Joel Schumacher, starring Colin Farrell, called Phone Booth.  The gist of the story is that a man is held hostage in a telephone booth by a sniper. Of course, we all laugh at the overall premise in that there are barely any phone booths around anymore. The last time I used a phone booth I was in Italy mistakenly calling some random person in Spain who was severely upset that I was asking for a Maria and how did I know about her?  Awkward.  Anyway, phone booths have been relegated to the recently made useless aisle in antique stores. I stared at the movie wishing I was asleep but wondering when is the last time phones were really phones. I cannot go anywhere without my phone. Absolutely nowhere. Yet, I don’t use it to call anyone for a personal chit-chat. I perhaps hold a total of three phone calls a week and that would be a lot. As I write this I just had my second phone call and am thus nearing my weekly quote. I am not counting work teleconferences. Those are a dime a dozen.  It has gotten to the point that calling someone is seen as quaint.

I believe it was two summers ago, when the song Call me, maybe by Carly Rae Jespen become a national (and international) earworm.  I remember singing it loudly at a nightclub in DC while attending the International AIDS Conference and doing a little step in the shower to the beat. It was not a very deep song. However, how many more songs can we expect with the lyrics or directive to pick up the phone and call me?  I can think of three songs (I am sure there are many more) in which the singer asks to be called and those songs are truly a sign of their times.

In the early ‘70s there was both an album and a song by crooner Al Green with the title of Call Me.  I am really most familiar with his song “Let’s Stay Together” that has been featured in movies like Pulp Fiction and used in Presidential fundraising campaigns. Why I don’t know.  However, his album “Call Me” is has been called one of the best soul albums ever made. The title song is a haunting song, showcasing vulnerability and longing. Some of the lyrics include:

If love is real, come to me

Call me
Call me
Call me
Come back home

The ‘70s were a time of exploration and major upheaval psychically, nationally and economically. Al Green’s song highlighted a bit of that spiritual need for togetherness and tenderness.

While Al Green begged his love to call him in order to come back together, the band Blondie used “Call Me” as a sexual freedom anthem in the early ‘80s. The song also served as the main theme song for the movie American Gigolo.  It has a naughty playfulness vibe to it as did much of anything else that occurred in the ‘80s when “greed was good.”

Call me (call me) my love
Call me, call me any, anytime
Call me (call me) for a ride
Call me, call me for some overtime
Call me (call me) my love
Call me, call me in a sweet design
Call me (call me), call me for your lover’s lover’s alibi
Call me (call me) on the line
Call me, call me any, anytime

 

It seems to me that Blondie’s “Call Me” was the first professed booty call that was put out there for all to hear.  Blondie’s song served as a call to action for all to work on getting those digits.  The song had a sense of urgency, while also conveying ready availability for anytime, anywhere. There was another famous telephone song in the 80’s  called “867-5309” which was really just kind of annoying and stalkerish. In the song Tommy Tutone exclaims: “Jenny, I got your number; I need to make you mine Jenny, don’t change your number.” Yikes. That song may have led to that old function of *69 in which if you miss a call, or receive one from an unknown caller, dialing *69 on your phone will identify the last caller’s number (if possible) and give you the option to call them back.  The group REM sang such a song in the ‘90s exclaiming “I know you called-I know you called-I know you called. I know you called-I know you called-I know you hung up my line. Star 69” when trying to tell the person to stop trying to use him as a patsy and alibi. The phone really started taking on very ominous tones and uses. Calling someone was no longer about longing and connection; it had become about wrongdoing and pain.  What a paranoid society we had become.

Here we are in this century faced with the near extinction of the telephone as an actual talking, let-me-connect with you device.  The song “Call Me” by Carly Rae Jepsen “is so non-threatening that you just bop along to the beat barely registering what you are singing along to other than the main phrase of “hey, I just met you, And this is crazy, But here’s my number, So call me maybe.”   I don’t know what to make of the song. Do young girls still wait for the boys to call? I thought the song had just been referring to call or text me. Eh, what do I know. I only use the phone three times a week. So, call me maybe. But I probably won’t pick up.