The tune was the lead-off track on The Nerves's 1976 EP, the group's only release. New wave band Blondie later popularised "Hanging on the Telephone", when it released a cover of the song as the second single off Parallel Lines in both the US and UK. The tune eventually reached number 5 in the UK in November 1978, as well as inspired other cover versions.
Like one of Blondie's subsequent singles, "Sunday Girl", "Hanging on the Telephone" employs a double backbeat rhythm in its drumming pattern. This percussion style also appeared on other power pop singles from the period, like The Romantics' 1978 release "Tell It to Carrie".
A version by Flowers Forever is played in the 2012 movie Electrick Children, in which a young girl believes she has become pregnant through listening to the song on her cassette recorder.
Blondie re-recorded the song for their 2014 compilation album Greatest Hits Deluxe Redux. The compilation was part of a 2-disc set called Blondie 4(0) Ever which included their 10th studio album Ghosts of Download and marked the 40th anniversary of the forming of the band.