Story of the Song: Hanging on the Telephone, Blondie (1978)
Friday 17 September 2010
Stuck on punk's West Coast outpost, The Nerves' fame barely made it out of California. The trio recorded a solitary, self-titled EP in 1976 before breaking up.
By 1978, their primary songwriter, Jack Lee, was facing financial ruin – but one song on that EP was about to change his fortunes. "I remember the day vividly," Lee told Mojo magazine in 2007. "It was a Friday. They were going to cut off our electricity at six o'clock, the phone too."
Before disconnection, that phone rang. It was Debbie Harry asking Lee if she could record "Hanging on the Telephone". Lee agreed, and Blondie rehearsed it before convening to record their third album, the career-defining Parallel Lines. It was produced by Mike Chapman, who described the song as "magic from the beginning". A telephone with a British ring tone was kept as the opener. The song made the top Five in November 1978 and has subsequently been covered by many, including Girls Aloud and Def Leppard. Lee, who went on to pen "Come Back and Stay" for Paul Young, regretted his own version was never a hit, but says he always knew "Hanging on the Telephone" was a special song: "Even people who hated me – and there were plenty – had to admit it was great."
MusicThe band accidentally called Londoners the C-word
Film 'I've never been comfortable on-screen', she says
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Sean Abbott: Messages of support flood in for bowler following death of batsman Phil Hughes
- 2 Exodus Gods and Kings: Ridley Scott never considered casting 'Mohammad so-and-so from such-and-such' in lead role
- 3 This letter from a reader explains why women can’t play football
- 4 'You should come to my house and eat cheeses with me': 4-year-old sends adorable love letter to girl at school
- 5 Scientists predict green energy revolution after incredible new graphene discoveries
I'm A Celebrity 2014: Jungle security stepped up after murder and 'suspicious death' close to camp
This house and dental clinic 'piled up like bricks on the brink of collapsing' is why Japan wins at architecture
'I just want to get home and watch Match of the Day': The Specials frontman Terry Hall admits the agony of being in an aging rock band during gig
Exodus Gods and Kings: Ridley Scott never considered casting 'Mohammad so-and-so from such-and-such' in lead role
Marilyn Manson denies involvement in shocking Lana Del Rey rape video
Ukip says babies born to immigrants in the UK should be classed as migrants – which would include Nigel Farage’s own children
Rochester by-election: Ukip gains second MP as Tory defector Mark Reckless holds seat
'Beast of Bolsover' Dennis Skinner takes Ukip MP Mark Reckless to task moments after he is sworn in
The young are the new poor: Sharp increase in number of under-25s living in poverty, while over-65s are better off than ever
Tamir Rice: 12-year-old boy playing with fake gun dies after being shot by Ohio police
Rochester aftermath: Sacking of Emily Thornberry will make work of Labour MPs '10 times harder'