Telephone Line (song)
|Single by Electric Light Orchestra|
|from the album A New World Record|
|B-side||"Poor Boy (The Greenwood)" (US)
"Poor Boy (The Greenwood)" and "King of the Universe" (Double B-side UK only)
|Released||21 May 1977 (UK)
May 1977 (US)
|Recorded||1976 at Musicland Studios, Munich|
|Length||4:39 (Album/UK single version)
3:56 (US single edit)
United Artists (US)
|Electric Light Orchestra singles chronology|
|A New World Record track listing|
The song is track two on their 1976 album, A New World Record, and was the final single to be released from the album until September 2006, when "Surrender" was released from the expanded reissue of the album. It became their biggest single success in the US and was their first UK gold award for a single. With ELO's continuing success in America it seemed obvious to Jeff Lynne to use an American ring tone during the song. Writer/guitarist, Lynne explained:
|“||To get the sound on the beginning, you know, the American telephone sound, we phoned from England to America to a number that we know nobody would be at, to just listen to it for a while. On the Moog, we recreated the sound exactly by tuning the oscillators to the same notes as the ringing of the phone.||”|
The song charted in the Top Ten in both the UK and the US, peaking at number 8 in the UK and number 7 in the US. The tune was on the Hot 100 for 23 weeks, nearly a full month longer on that chart than any other ELO tune. Billboard ranked it as the No. 15 song of 1977. In 1977, the song would reach number 1 in New Zealand and Canada. "Telephone Line" and Meri Wilson's "Telephone Man" were back-to-back on Hot 100's top 40 for two non-consecutive weeks in the summer of 1977.
As was the norm, many ELO singles were issued in different colours, but the US version of this single was the only green single ELO issued. It became the band's first single to achieve Gold sales figures.
Covers and other uses
"Telephone Line" is the theme song of the 1977 film Joyride starring Desi Arnaz, Jr., Robert Carradine, Melanie Griffith, and Anne Lockhart, directed by Joseph Ruben. The song is also featured in the movie Billy Madison when Billy (Adam Sandler) phones a former high school classmate, played by Steve Buscemi, to apologize for picking on him.
It was also played in a car during the "Malcolm Holds His Tongue" episode of Malcolm in the Middle.
Duo Jack and White, featuring American Idol finalist Brooke White recorded a cover of "Telephone Line" on their covers EP Undercover, digitally released in 2012. The version also featured guest vocals from Fitz of the band Fitz & The Tantrums.
Weekly singles charts
Jeff Lynne version
|Song by Electric Light Orchestra|
|from the album Mr. Blue Sky: The Very Best of Electric Light Orchestra|
|Released||8 October 2012 (UK)
9 October 2012 (US)
|Recorded||2001–2012 Bungalow Palace|
|Mr. Blue Sky: The Very Best of Electric Light Orchestra track listing|
- Breithaupt, Don; Breithaupt, Jeff (2000), Night Moves: Pop Music in the Late '70s, St. Martin's Press, p. 67, ISBN 978-0-312-19821-3
- Dave Thompson 1000 Songs That Rock Your World: From Rock Classics to One-Hit Wonders 2011- Page 212 "Telephone Line BY THE ELECTRIC LIGHT ORCHESTRA Having already serenaded us with the tones of “Ma Ma Belle,” E.L.O. followed up with a reminder of just how lonely the sound of an unanswered telephone could be."
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